The path to financial success might seem like it runs right through a minefield, but certain fundamentals can help you get to the other side safely.
1. Know what you are spending
It’s not something most of us like doing, but budgeting is really the only way to take control of your money. However, drawing one up is going to be a work in process for a while.
If you’ve been flying by the seat of your pants from one paycheck to the next, you’ll need time work out exactly what you spend your money on.
Keep a record of every cent you spend and what you spend it on. This way you can get an overall picture of how much you spend on various categories like food, entertainment, schooling, clothing and so on and draw up some kind of projection of what you can expect to spend on them in future. It’ll also tell you where you are overspending.
2. Live within your means
Your budget will end up being the GPS that helps you reach your destination, even if you do have to take a few alternative routes along the way. And, if you want to save money, you’ll even learn to leave some of the roads blocked. Face it, if that dress you have been eyeing isn’t available when the new check is in, you’ll survive, but little Johnny has to go to the doctor if he’s really sick. You’ll learn to balance the budget totals and priorities off against one another and still maybe have some money left over at month end.
Avoid impulse buys by removing the opportunity and the impulse. Think for a while and give your brain a chance to counter the desire with reasons why you shouldn’t buy it. Also, you can’t purchase something if you aren’t there to buy it. So avoid shopping channels and unplanned visits to the store.
3. Keep out of debt
Spending beyond your income results in debt, whether it’s credit cards, overdrafts or unpaid accounts. These land you in the interest trap – and once you are in that trap, it’s very hard to get out. You end up paying interest on interest, and the outstanding balance keeps growing. Debt only helps you out once and leaves you paying for it for a long time.
If you’re already in debt, do everything you can to get out of it. Use any extra money at the end of the month, tax returns, bonuses or any unexpected windfalls (or at least a portion of them) to whittle away at those interest guzzlers. It’s great to save, but servicing your debt costs you far more than you earn on savings, so you’re losing out overall.
Try to avoid keeping all your eggs in one basket. Instead, build up multiple sources of income. You’ll be better equipped to handle it if something happens to your primary income, such as losing your job, if you have a safety net of other types of income in the background. Consider running a business on the side, making income-producing rather than growth-related investments, and broadening your client base if you are self-employed.
5. Keep learning
Keep informed of improvements in your practice or interest areas and learn new things. Take an on-line course or read a book or scour the internet for information. It will keep your mind stimulated and provide you with unforeseen opportunities to improve your current working situation of even start something new on a part-time or full-time basis.
6. Saving early is best, but it’s never too late
Money in the bank is essential for financial success, and obviously, the more, the better. It ensures you won’t go into debt when something important comes up, and that there’ll be something in the kitty when you retire one day. The earlier you start squirreling away some of your earnings each month, the better.
However, it is never too late to start. If you’re older, you are going to have to put away more – say 20 percent of your earnings if you are between 40 and 60. Transfer money automatically to an investment or savings account – what you don’t have, you can’t spend.
7. Make what you have work for you
If you have extra room in your house or a plot of land or a cabin somewhere, consider renting it out. If you have a hobby, or a particular talent or skill, think about how it might earn you some money.
Work after-hours as a freelancer, a coach or tutor, by making how-to videos for the internet, or giving classes. Put the earnings into an emergency fund, or use them to get you out of debt.
8. Believe in yourself and what you are doing
Success requires motivation, commitment, and inspiration. You’re not going to get there if every day’s a real drag and you battle to get out of bed in the morning to face it. If you’re bored with your job and routine, you’re going to need to make a change. You have two options. Find a new career path – and that isn’t that easy these days. Or change how you see the job you have.
Be grateful you have a job from which you can earn a decent amount of money. Believe in yourself and your ability to make even the dullest job more enjoyable. Then do so – be innovative in how you approach it and the people around you. It’ll remove the boredom and might even end up in a promotion or finding a better job.
9. Don’t always believe what you’re told
We often forget that the real “get rich without effort” stories are few and far between. We’re also sometimes too ready to believe our golfing buddies or the people in the lift club about ideas they have for getting rich quickly because they seem to know what they are talking about.
Speak to professionals or do thorough research if you are thinking of getting involved in something or investing in it. A wrong decision that lands you in a Ponzi scheme, pyramid scheme or bad investment could ruin you financially. This becomes particularly important as you get older.
10. Think long term
Whether you’re budgeting, taking a job, saving or investing it’s always better to think in the long-term. In this ever-changing world, we live in, it’s very easy to thinking no further than the next paycheck or the nest vacation, but there’s a whole lifetime ahead.
Have a long-term goal regarding career promotion or running your family finances and expenses. Look at increasing your income steadily over the years, to combat the ever decreasing value of the money you are earning. If it’s hard to get by now, it could get harder down the line.
Also, look at what you hope to achieve and when you hope to make it. Do you want to buy a house, start a business, and be able to travel when you retire? Plan for these things right now.
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