When it comes to the topic I write about each week in this column i.e. personal finance, I take much of the advice I give from my daily interactions with people and what they are going through financially, what works best for them, what doesn’t etc.
What I teach and write about is not rocket science, or totally original, or some magical “secret”.
It is a careful compilation of everything I’ve learned from more sources and people than I can remember. I’ve been a prodigious student and still am of the personal finance industry whilst adding what I would like to think of as a few original twists.
I read an awful lot about what is going on in the financial services industry so what I want to share with you this week are some of the advice and insights given from financial experts I respect and admire because they don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.
Many of them are not names you will recognise, but regardless of who they are, their advice is worth taking because what they say is a rock of common sense and is proven to work time and time again.
For most people, wealth is not the result of learning the latest investment technique at an over-priced weekend seminar, discovering unknown secrets, or pursuing other magic formulas.
The truth is wealth doesn’t require genius, special talents, privilege, or luck. Those are all myths.
It also doesn’t require any more work than financial mediocrity. It is not about working harder: it’s about working smarter. It’s about focusing all your efforts in an efficient, logical process to produce results. The way you do that is with a structured financial plan.
We are all given the same 24 hours in a day but we won’t all achieve our financial goals. The difference is our financial plan.
My best tip on personal finance is to spend less than you make. It sounds like a rather simple strategy, but most folks don’t use it. The best way to achieve that goal is to use an online budgeting service.
My best personal finance tip is to use cash and an envelope budget. It may seem old-school, but getting cash and using that for your day to day spending can actually help you gain better control of your finances.
Create envelopes for each category and track your spending by writing it down each time you make a purchase. By doing so, you can not only see where your money goes, you will also know how much you have left to spend. When the money is gone you are done spending. This forces you to be accountable to yourself.
Start paying attention. Self-awareness is the first step when it comes to improving any part of your life, and your finances are no different, whether you want to get out of debt or achieve financial independence. Know your financial net worth, and track your income and spending. Spend some time evaluating your situation and stop ignoring your financial problems.
Don’t fall victim to the “entitlement syndrome.” If you’ve found yourself saying, “I deserve [something] because I did ...,” then most likely, you’re splurging on some big-ticket item you don’t need. Many people do this after a long week at work and then go splurge shopping or dining out with friends. Enjoy the weekend: just don’t overspend to do it.
One of my favourite tips is to simply “take action”. We get so caught up with thinking and researching and deciding on how to better our lives - both financially and otherwise - that often times we end up doing absolutely nothing because of analysis paralysis.
So take a few seconds and decide on something right here and now and then go and get started. You can always tweak things as time goes on. You can’t have a different future if you don’t change something today.
Don’t let your circumstances dictate your financial success. It’s easy to sit back and say you won’t get ahead because your employer rarely gives raises or your expenses are always going to be too high.
People can almost always find ways to spend less and earn more. Think of how you could get a higher-paying job or how you can develop a secondary source of income. Free time doesn’t have to go to watching TV
Humans are irrational. Don’t trust yourself to make the best financial decisions. If you can postpone making a big purchase, do it. Half the time you’ll decide you didn’t need it.
Don’t get greedy. If you’ve been lucky enough to ride this wave up in stocks over the last five years, now is the time to start protecting yourself for a possible correction.
Start investing today. Don’t wait. It’s easy to do, and doesn’t require a lot of money. Even €25 a month invested is a great start.
My wife and I completed our journey to pay off our credit card debt in January of this year. When our finances finally hit a breaking point in 2009, our situation felt hopeless because we didn’t know what options were available to get our lives back on track. The first step to financial recovery is to investigate all the possible debt relief options -- including debt consolidation, debt management, debt settlement, bankruptcy and even the good old-fashioned roll up your sleeves and do it yourself method. Once fully educated on the options, a person can make an informed decision as to what the best course of action is for them.
Fitz Gerard Villafuerte
Wealth and happiness is relative. Never count your achievements against others, and anchor your goals on other people’s measure of success. If you do this, you’ll only be disappointed. Wealth is not a specific number in your bank account; Happiness is not a simple destination; it is a cycle of experiences that you pursue throughout your life. To have both requires using money as a tool - a means that provide the necessary time, resources, mobility and access that allows you to invest in memories and life experiences
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