If there’s one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed, it’s just how hard it is to make ends meet if you don’t have a financial cushion or emergency fund. As a result, there’s been a resurgence in individuals learning more about how to better their personal finances and better set themselves up for success in the future. If you aren’t quite sure how to go about improving your financial situation, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Build an emergency fund now.

Clearly, the current financial climate has helped to demonstrate why it’s important to build a substantial emergency fund. Your emergency fund should be at least $1,000. It’s crucial that you don’t dip into your emergency fund in order to cover other expenses; an emergency fund is truly for emergencies and not things that you just forgot about saving money to cover the cost of like car maintenance fees. Once you’ve found yourself in a more sustainable financial situation, you’ll likely want to expand your emergency fund to cover a month’s worth of expenses or income, gradually growing it to cover two or even three months.

Become a savvy shopper.

Whether it’s waiting to buy items until they go on sale, using coupons, or buying in bulk, there are plenty of ways to become a smarter shopper. At the heart of all of these strategies is the simple truth that in today’s day and age you really don’t have to pay full price for almost anything.

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Part of being a savvy shopper is making financial decisions that set your future self up for more financial freedom, too. That may include comparing car loan rates before you commit to purchasing a new vehicle. While it’s true that if you’re buying a used car for $10,000, the loan amount you’ll get from lender to lender will be the same if you don’t compare loan rates you may wind up paying more in interest than you’d first accounted for. Comparing car loan rates can help you get a deal that doesn’t wind up requiring you to continue making payments long after you’ve gotten your use from your car.

Make a budget and stick to it.

Regardless of whether your income has decreased or stayed the same because of COVID-19, it’s important that you use a budget if you really want to reach your financial goals. Put in its simplest terms, a budget helps illustrate what your financial priorities are so that you can act accordingly. There are various methods of budgeting to consider when you want to get better with your money, and the most important thing to look at when comparing methods and apps is which one you’ll get the most benefits from. The best budgeting app is the one that you’ll use each and every day, so spend some time researching different options before you decide on one.

Start paying attention to your credit score!

As you start to pay more attention to your finances, it’s just as important to start considering your credit score. Especially if you want to get better loan terms or credit card interest rates or someday buy a house, your credit score is very important. That being said, it can take a lot of work to raise your credit score, especially if you’re facing financial hardships and bad marks on your credit report. This is where a credit repair company could help you improve your score. The best credit repair companies offer you education and insight into how to fix your situation rather than promising to wave a magic wand and improve things instantaneously. By building better financial habits, you can ultimately set yourself up for success in the present and future.

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