When you scroll through social media and see pictures of people buying their dreams homes, picking up a luxury vehicle from the car lot, or spending money on a lavish international vacation it’s easy to feel like you’re behind. That’s one of the downsides of social media - we can feel like we’re not doing enough when in reality, even the small things are major.
Saving your first $1,000. Having enough discipline to save up $1,000 isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never had a consistent saving habit before. And when you consider that 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 in the bank, you’re doing pretty good to get your savings account up to four figures. Pat yourself on the back and get started on your next goal.
Going six months or more without paying an overdraft fee. Americans paid $54 billion in overdraft fees last year. If you’ve over drafted once, you’re more likely to overdraft again. Getting the hang of managing your money and avoiding overdraft fees is worth celebrating.
Gaining credit score points. Raising your credit score is hard work. It takes patience, time, and dedication. It’s a good feeling seeing your credit score going up. Even if your credit score goes from 535 to 570, you’re still making progress. Keep up the good work and you’ll have more credit score gains to celebrate.
Paying off a credit card. When you pay just the minimum on your credit card, your balance will barely budge. You have to pay a large lump sum to your credit card each month to see real progress on your credit card balance. If you’ve been making sacrifices to pay more on your credit card and finally see zero balance, congratulations are in order.
Doing a full credit report check. You can keep up with most of your credit information by using an app like Credit Karma. Still, it doesn’t give you the full picture. At least once a year, you should order all three of your full credit reports and review each item to make sure all the information is accurate. You can get one free copy each year through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Buying your first stock. Millions of Americans aren’t investing in the stock market and young adults are less likely to invest in stocks. Microinvesting apps like Acorns and Robinhood make it easier than ever to invest in stocks at a low cost. There’s risk involved in any investment, stocks included. If you’ve read up on the stock market, decided you want to invest, and finally chosen a stock you think will do well, kudos to you. Investing in your first stock is a huge step.
Staying in your car after it’s paid off. Paying off your car loan is a major step. Many people go right out and buy another new car and never miss the money since they were used to a car payment anyway. If you can hold off on buying a new car for another year or two, you can put the amount of your car payment toward another goal like paying off other debt or saving money.
Making your own coffee, taking your own lunch, or eating leftovers. Eating out is one the biggest expenses for many people. Whether it’s Starbucks or a local coffee shop, that morning coffee just feels so good, but you save so much money by making your own coffee at home. Even if it means investing in an automatic coffee maker. Choosing to save money over convenience is a major step in financial maturity.
Keeping your credit card balance low. The temptation to run up a big credit card balance is too real. But, having a high credit card balance can hurt your credit score and can be tough to pay off. For a good credit score, it’s best to keep your credit card balance below 30% of the credit limit. That’s a $300 balance on a credit card with a $1,000 limit. Having enough self-control to keep a low credit card balance is a major win.
Reading a book on money. You don’t have to stop reading just because you’re no longer in school. If you want a good lesson on finances, pick up a personal finance book. They’re not always the most exciting to read, but you’ll learn a lot about managing money and can start to undo some of the bad financial habits you picked up over the years.
Being good with money isn’t about one big accomplishment, it’s about all the small decisions that you make everyday. Those good choices add up in major ways.