Managing your money is tough, and many people struggle with it to at least some degree. In fact, roughly a third of workers earning $200,000 or more per year say they run out of cash before they receive their next paycheck, according to a survey from Salary Finance.
However, although many people are having a challenging time keeping their finances in check, many of them aren't doing everything possible to better their situation. In fact, there's one money move in particular that can improve every aspect of your financial life -- and not enough people are taking advantage of it.
Knowledge is key to unlocking your financial potential
Typically, the more knowledgeable you are about a subject, the better your decisions will be.
But despite the fact that nearly half of Americans say they're stressed about money, according to the Salary Finance report, only 19% of people say they'd like to better understand financial language. Even among the group of people who are stressed about money, just 23% think that a better grasp of financial language could improve their situation.
No matter how much you already know about how to manage your money, everyone can stand to learn at least a little more. You may already have a solid understanding of many financial concepts, which is a great first step. But if you're stressed about money, taking steps to learn even more about the areas that are worrying you can guide you in the right direction to improve your situation. And even if you're not currently stressed about your finances, learning more about financial topics can ensure you're making the best decisions possible.
For example, if you're having a tough time paying down debt, you may choose to learn more about how to prioritize your different debts. By better understanding what you're paying in interest on each type of debt and then prioritizing those debts accordingly, you can minimize your interest payments and pay off your debt faster. Without a solid repayment strategy, you may unknowingly be paying more in interest than necessary.
In addition, a stronger grasp of even basic financial concepts can help you make smarter money decisions. When you know how to create a budget, for example, you'll have a better chance of spending wisely so you don't run out of cash before your next paycheck arrives. And if you also know how to set spending limits in each area of your budget, you can avoid spending more than you earn -- which will, in turn, help you save more for the future.
Prioritize learning to improve your financial health
The good news is that a wealth of information is available online about any financial topic imaginable. Whether you're struggling with debt, finding it difficult to save, or in need of help managing your money from day to day, there are resources out there to guide you. The first step, though, is simply acknowledging that learning more about finances can improve your situation. Even if you feel confident in your money decisions, it never hurts to learn even more to double-check that you're doing everything possible to put every dollar to good use.
If the idea of spending your free time reading and learning about finance isn't all that appealing, you're not alone. In fact, a quarter of Americans say they'd rather get a cavity filled than prepare a budget, a survey from Capital One found.
If you don't particularly enjoy thinking about money, try instead to think about the positive results you'll see down the road when you make certain financial changes. For instance, try picturing what life will look like if you paid off all your credit card debt. Imagine all the extra cash you'll have, and think about all the stress and sleepless nights you'll be able to avoid. With that in mind, it may be easier to develop an action plan to make that dream a reality.
You can do the same thing for any financial goal you have. If you know you should be saving for retirement, for example, but you feel overwhelmed at the idea of creating a plan and don't know where to start, picture your ideal retirement and let that guide you. Or, on the other hand, it might be helpful to picture a retirement in which you can barely afford to survive because you didn't save enough. That could serve as motivation to start learning as much as you can now so you can achieve your future goals.
Deepening your understanding of finance may not be the most enjoyable way to spend your free time, but the more you know, the better off you'll be. By acknowledging the areas where you struggle financially and then doing your homework to learn as much as you can about those topics, you can learn to make better decisions and improve your entire financial life.