These are challenging economic times for many families across the country. And if your children are going to college in the near future, it may be tempting to put your retirement dreams on hold. However, while it’s essential to get through the pandemic with your financial stability intact, you still want to be prepared for the future. Below are some practical budgeting tips that cover both the short-term and long-term—everything from finding debt relief to spending your money wisely to advancing your retirement plans by working with companies like Designed Retirements.

Evaluate your living situation.

When you are quickly approaching an empty nest, it’s the perfect time to reassess your lifestyle. For example, will your house be too big now once your kids are gone? By downsizing to a smaller home, not only can you save money, but you could also cut back on maintenance and enjoy a simpler life overall.

Also, if you are in a tight financial spot, consider whether you could sell your vehicle. This can especially be a smart move if you have a vehicle that you don’t use very often.

Pause discretionary spending.

Another way to improve your financial situation is to cut expenses that aren’t essential to your survival. While it might cause some discomfort, see what subscriptions you can cancel for the time being. If you spend a lot of money dining out, look for creative recipes you can make at home, and only dine out once a week. If you take your pet to a groomer on a regular basis, start bathing them at home.

These are just a few examples of discretionary expenses you can temporarily remove from your budget. Closely review your budget to see what specific comforts you can live without for the coming months.

Secure an emergency fund.

Building an emergency fund is a fundamental element of any healthy personal budget. But in uncertain times like these, it’s even more critical. If you don’t have money set aside for unexpected repair bills, medical expenses, and other such costs, start saving a portion of each paycheck in a designated fund. While the opinions of financial experts vary on how much people should save, most agree that at least three months of expenses is a reasonable goal.

Look at your relief options.

If you have a significant amount of debt, it’s time to make tackling this a priority. Remember, once those debts are paid off, you can funnel that cash into retirement savings. If you need debt relief or consolidation, research all of the options available in your state. Your job status and how much you owe, among other issues, will determine which debt solutions work best for your situation.

Don’t forsake your retirement.

Though it might be tempting to pause your retirement savings right now, don’t do it if you can help it. If your children will be out of the house soon, chances are retirement isn’t far behind. And no one needs to tell you that the more money you have when you retire, the better.

Keep building your 401(k), Roth IRA, mutual fund, and/or other retirement funds, and look for opportunities to invest. For example, if you recently canceled a vacation, you could put that money toward investments. Or if you sell your house or vehicle, that money could also go toward your retirement savings.

Now is the time to see whatever adjustments you need to make to your personal budget and spending. Take the time to reassess your lifestyle, and put certain discretionary spending on hold, as well as pay down debt. Lastly, remember to prioritize your emergency fund and retirement savings. That way, you can put yourself in a stronger financial position for the short-term and long-term.

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