The most important thing that anyone can do when it comes to personal finance is to take control of their money. Being in charge of your finances is all about telling your money what to do instead of letting your finances dictate what you do. If you are in debt up over your head, the odds are that you will have very little freedom – and you will be forced to do things based on money. Whether that is staying in a job that you hate or giving up on your childhood dream. But if you stay on top of your finances, you will not only have more freedom, but also peace of mind.
I have never had too much trouble when it comes to managing my personal finances. I learned from a young age the importance of saving in order to buy what is really important to you. What started with saving to buy the next popular video game has now translated into money management skills. Getting through college put my money management skills to the test. I was determined not to go into debt to pay for school, but I also didn’t have very much money. I cut all unnecessary expenses and worked my butt off, but I did it. I graduated debt free.
I became so accustomed to living with so little that when my wife and I finally started making enough money to have some cushion, I didn’t know what to do with it. We created a fun budget to limit our expenses, but I often found myself wondering what to do with extra money. Instead of putting my money to good use, it was just sitting there, burning a hole in my pocket. Contrary to popular belief, making too much money without having the skills to manage it is sometimes worse than just making enough.
Why Making More Money Can Be a Curse
This type of experience happens to many young adults. After graduating from college and getting their first job that pays more than they’ve ever made before, they don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know the importance of saving for retirement or prioritizing their finances over their wants and desires. So, what do they do? They splurge.
You can’t blame young people for wanting to enjoy the finer things in life. We all enjoy these things. The consequence of this act of splurging isn’t just a smaller balance in their bank account. Unfortunately, it means an acclimatization to this type of lifestyle. Spending money (and perhaps even spending more than you make) on things that you want becomes the norm.
Once this happens, it’s hard to put a stop to it. It’s difficult to give up eating out at your favorite restaurant. It’s challenging to give up driving a new car or traveling to exotic places. It’s very similar to the Pringles’ commercials popular saying, “Once you pop, you just can’t stop.”
Why You Need Financial Goals
Despite my temporary lapse, I didn’t go off the deep end with my finances. What ended up saving me from throwing all of my hard-earned money down the toilet were my financial goals. I had originally established short term financial goals this past fall. Somewhere in the busyness of life, I forgot them. I knew they existed, but they were no longer a priority. Instead of putting money towards reaching my goals, I instead wanted to splurge or waste my money away.
I decided to re-visit my goals to refresh my memory and I was instantly challenged. For those who know me, there is something about a challenge that really gets me motivated. If someone challenges me to make $30,000 on the side in one year, I will dedicate my spare hours to make it happen. When I re-read the goals that I had set months ago, I was determined to reach my goals.
Setting financial goals is a great idea for anyone. It not only helps you prioritize your long-term goals, but it helps you understand what it takes to get there. For example, one of my goals is to pay for my wife’s graduate studies in cash. She is now taking 18 credits each calendar year, so I know that comes out to approximately $10,800 each year, paid in part at three times each year. While we have an emergency fund, I prefer to keep that just for emergencies. So, a couple months before each payment is due, I make sure to set aside the amount necessary for the upcoming bill.
The best part that I have found with setting and accomplishing financial goals is that it doesn’t end there. When you successfully accomplish your financial goals, you then start asking yourself what else you can accomplish. With the right goals, you can effectively trick yourself into making your future financial security a priority over a few luxury items now. If you have the right amount of determination and extra money, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish with financial goals.
What are your financial goals? Are you the type of person that rises to the challenge?
This post was written by Corey, a staff writer from 20’s Finances.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.