When it comes to personal finance, I think this is an area in life where people can always improve and there are definitely ways to plan ahead to ensure that you are on a road to a better financial future. I am fortunate in that I had strong parents who taught me very good money lessons at a young age which shaped me into the financially savvy person I am today. I would not say I am an expert but I can provide some basic money principles that work and it is never too late to adapt them into your life no matter what your financial status is right now. With the right practices put into place, you can achieve your money goals and become a financially independent individual along with passing these money principles down to your children and the people you care about most.
I want to start off by saying, this expression is absolutely true when it comes to money–“When you pay, you pay attention.” Meaning that when you have to pay for everything, you do very well pay attention to what you are spending your money on and every little cost along the way. As soon as I could get a job as a teenager, I was held accountable for paying for everything. My parents never paid my cell phone bills, car insurance, clothes, entertainment, etc. Although they were never poor and as an only child, they easily could have covered all these costs–they still refused to pay for these things. Think about it: If they provided me with all these basic necessities, what would be the incentive to go out and get a job? Their attitude from the start was, “If you want something, you need to work for it and figure it out yourself.” Their underlying message was that I had to work for things like everyone else in this world while also instilling their full confidence that I had the capacity to earn it all by myself without relying on their credit cards and bank accounts. Their tough love approach was effective as it provided me with a burning drive at a young age to work hard along with becoming money motivated for not only survival purposes but for everything beyond that. In other words, besides paying bills and basic needs, anything else I wanted that extends beyond that such as a nice vacation, I can create the resources to make it happen. 😉 [Side note: It is for this reason, when people I know tell me their children are spoiled, don’t appreciate anything, and don’t work–my response is to cut them off financially. Sounds harsh but it is the dose of reality and tough love that is needed to build their autonomy, confidence, work ethic, and self worth while also doing them a huge favor in the long run. Trust me.]
My point in sharing this is to show how I became financially savvy at a young age because my parents taught me the value of money by having me always have to work for it. These are principles I have applied since my youth and that I continue to live by to this day.
Spend Less Than You Earn – How often do you see people spend money that they don’t really have? I see people do this all the time where they barely can pay their bills and do not really have a savings in the event that they need it for an emergency (such as the current pandemic) which is why I would rank this as the most important money principle. It is essential to spend under your means in order to prevent sinking into debt and giving yourself the opportunity to bank more money into your savings/investments.
Focus on Excelling in Your Profession – It does not matter what professional field that you chose as there is always room for you to build your career which typically means a higher salary over time. If you are extremely good at what you do, people will want to pay you for it and/or promote you so focusing on your career should be a main focal point for both personal development and financial growth.
Find Multiple Streams of Income – I suppose if you chose a career path that already provided you a hefty salary, there is not as much of a need to find multiple streams of income but I do believe this is something people often overlook and is a missed financial opportunity. Most people are content with just having their weekly job and will call it a day which in certain situations, I understand if the job is incredibly taxing and takes up the majority of your life where there is little room for free time. However, what if you found something that you loved to do and could also make a little extra income? Anyone can turn any small hobby into a few extra dollars or sometimes a ton of money (hey, why limit yourself? 😉 ) and there are always people willing to pay for services that they may not like or have the expertise in but you do.
Save As Much as Possible (Every Penny Counts) – People often underestimate that every little bit saved adds up to a big amount of money over time. For example, if you enjoy getting a cup of coffee everyday, you might think it’s such a small expense, why not treat yourself every morning; however, so much money can be saved just by cutting back the amount of days you go a week or simply by making it yourself at home. My point is, every little bit saved is extra money in your pocket that can be used for bigger and better things for your future.
Make Investments to Grow Your Money Over Time – There are many things one can invest their money in, such as real estate but first and foremost, you absolutely need a retirement fund. I know it is something most people do not really think much about until they are actually getting closer to that stage of their lives but this is where you need to think long term and start investing NOW! I always contributed towards an IRA thanks to having a financially savvy mother who had me open an account when I was 18 years old (all my money of course, not a cent from my parents) but looking back, I wish I was putting in much more as I could be benefiting from all the compound interest. As I mentioned before, the good news is–it is never too late to start investing and now I maximize my IRA every single year because I am more consciously aware of investing and have the money to do so. Even if you are not currently in a position where you can maximize your contributions each year, remember that every little bit you invest now will grow into much more money in your future so anything is always better than nothing. The key is to start a retirement fund if you have not already done so and to consistently add what you can each year.