You might be thinking I’m too young to worry about money. I’ve got plenty of time to worry about this later. Well, if you’re old enough to read this then you’re old enough to start. As a general rule I look at making money similar to a workout program. You can’t work out once a month for six hours and expect to see results. Daily focus on the guidelines listed below will give you a head start to heading in the right direction.
A lot of times we think we can’t save a million dollars so why bother saving anything? The answer is because that’s where it starts.
- Start with Good Habits – There are virtually millions of ways to make money and be successful. Whether you pursue real estate, business, stocks, or a profession, they will all have one thing in common. You will not get good at them overnight. (Unless, you’re just lucky in which case you should just play the Lottery.) Invest some time daily, even if it’s only 15 to 30 minutes per day, learning about investment options. That way you’ll be ready when the time comes. Imagine you’re an athlete and you’re sitting on the bench. When they call you to “get in the game” you’d better show that you’ve been practicing or else it’s back to the bench or even to the locker room, in some cases. Just as with money, those who are “in the game” get most of the attention.
- Keep a Log – Be aware of what you spend. Whether you’re old enough to open a bank account or not. Always keep a spending log of what you spend and how much you have left. Seeing the actual amount spent at the end of the day will curb your spending and hopefully guide you to buying only what you need not what you can use. I always hear that term, “I can use the.” Yes, but do you need it?
- Save – There’s no way around this one. You could be making millions and still come up short if you don’t control your spending.
- Work Hard– I don’t care if you call it an allowance or something else. As long as you learn that hard work equates to being able to get things. Adults should help out with this one. A simple reward system to reinforce their children’s contributions to chores or other tasks will work. If children learn that they can get things without working, they will have a rude awakening later on in life.
- Ask Questions – Who, what, where, why, and how? I don’t care which one it is. Bottom line is, the more you ask the more you learn. The people who are good influences in your life will want to share their knowledge and are not threatened by others. Just keep in mind that you can learn from everyone, whether they are younger or older. Whether it be from their mistakes or their successes.
- Shop Around – Learn the value of saving money by what you do not spend. This is true for any purchase ranging from a candy bar from a vending machine, to groceries and gas. Practice your math skills here by figuring out the unit price for various items. Buying in bulk isn’t always cheaper. So, if you can save money and not sacrifice on quality- great! You can also practice this skill by helping others when they are shopping and showing options where they can get the most bang for their buck.
- Deal with “No” – The reality is that you can’t always get everything you want and when you want it. That’s just life. That’s the easy part of this. The sophisticated investor determines what they have to do (i.e., hard work or save) to get what they want. If I can’t get it now then I’ll make that a goal for the future.
- Set financial Goals – Reward yourself. It’s healthy to want nice things in your life. Just map out a course of how you’re going to allocate your saving to getting there. Also, this can often work as motivation for putting in the extra effort.
- Mt. Everest is climbable – Many times when you’re standing at the beginning of a goal or task, it seems intimidating and unattainable. The bottom line is that any mountain is climbed one step at a time. Many people get so tired and discouraged from the get go that they just avoid the challenge. Finances are the same way. Savings and all money starts with pennies, then dollars, etc… A lot of times we think we can’t save a million dollars so why bother saving pennies? The answer is because that’s where it starts. The hardest part of going for a jog is putting on your shoes. Simply put it is always hard to get started. The earlier you learn that every penny counts the sooner you’ll achieve your financial goals.
- Show Up – If you don’t go to the game you’ll never have a chance to play. I doubt highly they’re going to come to your house, see you sitting on the couch, and say, “would you like to get in the game?” Finances are the same way. Often people are sitting back not even aware of the opportunities around them. Be proactive ad show up for interviews, other financial opportunities and you’ll be surprised. Sometimes you’re the only one there. I have plenty of friends who sit there, while we’re watching a show on TV, and say, “I could have been an actor.” So, I ask, “what have you tried to do?” They respond, “nothing yet but I’m still thinking about it.” In my mind I’m thinking you’re still sitting there on the couch watching these actors who have worked hard and stayed up late hours taking acting classes, trying out for various roles, rehearsing. Then I respond, “Yeah, you could have been a great actor…keep thinking about it.” Many great ideas and goals get buried six feet under.
- Follow the Leader – Pick a topic or field that you like and find someone who’s had some measure of success in it. Then act like a sponge and absorb. You may never have to meet with that individual in person but study and learn from their success and mistakes. Hopefully, you’ll be able to surround yourself with like-minded people who have similar aspirations as yourself. For adults, remember that children will often follow what you do, not what you say. Therefore, it’s important that you set a good example.
- Borrowing Money/Credit Cards – Understand the whole, “nothing is free” concept. Everything has a consequence and every action a reaction. There are a few occasions when this may not apply but generally, this is the rule. If you borrow money from the banks you have to a pay a percentage of interest depending on the terms. Figure out your monthly payment and make sure that you can afford it. If you use a credit card, try to pay off your balance monthly or check into the finance charges, which can be very high. Have someone show you how to use and complete checks as well as how to balance your checkbook.
- Live within your Means – I have friends who have the hottest looking rims on their car but can’t afford to pay for gas. This is flat out absurd unless you want to keep your car in your driveway and hope that passerby’s can admire it from there. Make sure you address your basic needs of food, shelter, and utilities before you focus on having the most expensive ride, pair of jeans in your social group. Set up goals to pursue after those basic needs are met, like paying off debts and furthering your education, so you don’t funnel your money in the wrong direction.
- Good old fashion hard work – There’s a reason why they call it work and not a Play Date. If we could all just sit back and get paid to watch TV or surf the internet, we’d be lucky. The reality is that those jobs are few and far between and most of us have to work pretty hard. I’m not asking you to swallow your pride, as you’d hear others say, but refocus it on the fact that you’re earning an honest living and taking care of your responsibilities. I have friends who tell me that they can’t find a job. When I look and find something for them, they tell me, “I’m worth a lot more than that would pay me.” I respond, “Yes, I agree but until your talents are discovered you have to pay for your basic needs,” Most great performers weren’t discovered on their first performance. They had to work in the trenches and perform for peanuts before they were discovered.
- Be Offensive – There’s nothing more boring than watching a basketball or soccer game where one team is constantly taking all the shots and the other is just blocking shorts and having to play the entire game on the defensive. Two major problems with this are that it would get old quick, and the team on the defensive would never have a chance to win. I see this all the time in everyday life. People are so bombarded with paying their bills that they can’t get ahead in life. You have to make time to take some shots and go on the offensive. It’s going to take a little extra effort at first because you have to run to the other side of the field/court. However, if you put that little extra effort in daily to put money away for an offensive or make plans to developing and taking risks with a business idea you may have it would benefit you psychologically and financially.