5 Ways to Make Your Own Financial Luck

This St. Patrick's Day, some might hope that the luck of the Irish will yield them a pot of gold...or some other financial windfall.

In reality, however, the best financial outcomes happen when you make your own luck. Here are five ways to do just that.

Do Your Research Before Piling on Student Debt

People with little or no student debt are often considered lucky, but sometimes their "luck" is actually the result of careful planning.

They might have purposely avoided going to an expensive private school in favor of attending a much less expensive, in-state college. They might have applied for every scholarship under the sun, and received a few. They might have taken on part-time work while at school to help pay for their tuition. And if they did take loans, they might have stuck to federal loans, since private loans have higher interest rates than federal loans.

Related: Congrats Grad! Now What About That Student Loan?

Take Full Advantage of Your Company's 401(k) Match

You might think that winning a few bucks from a scratch-off lottery ticket is lucky, but what if you could get "free" money without buying a ticket?

Consider your employer's 401(k) matching program your "free ticket" to extra cash. You should always aim to contribute enough to get your employer's maximum match. Unsure of how to do that? Check with your human resources department. Learn more about 401(k) matches here.

Create a Budget (and Stick to It)

People without credit card debt may be perceived as lucky, but in reality, they might just have a strong budget.

Having a budget is fundamental to your financial health. Those who have one are more likely to spend less than their income, and considerably more likely to have set aside emergency funds. And budgeters who focus on setting long-term financial goals are more likely to have no difficulty making ends meet and to be satisfied with their finances, according to the FINRA Financial Education Foundation’s Financial Capability Survey.

Related: How To Create a Budget and Stick to it in 7 Steps

Take Advantage of Tax-Advantaged Retirement and College Accounts

Is having a relatively low tax bill a "lucky break"? Not if you made it happen by putting your savings into tax-advantaged accounts such as a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA or 529 college savings plan.

Of course, in addition to the tax benefits of such accounts, savers will ultimately reap the benefits of having built up a nest egg—one that may allow their children to attend college with minimal debt or allow them to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Establish a Rainy Day Fund

One of the best ways to make your own good luck is to plan for the possibility of bad luck. A job loss or a sudden health problem could drain your finances if you're not careful.

Establishing a healthy emergency savings fund can help you afford big bills or withstand major hits to your income. Learn more about starting an emergency savings fund here.