7 Tips for Mastering Personal Finance Basics
As you begin to learn more about financial basics, you will soon see the many ways they can impact your life. This can be through starting a budget, saving for a rainy day or starting a business, getting free from debt or preparing for the future. I think mastering your personal finances is one of the most important things you can do to improve your happiness and quality of life. I grew up thinking financial management is aimed at adults, however, nowadays our youth are getting clued up on finances and are already starting to be business owners, as well as learning and embracing the personal finance aspects.
Here is my list of personal finance skills every thrifty person should master:
1. Its all about budget and balance
Setting and following a budget is probably the most basic personal finance skill, yet very few people actually have a detailed budget. I went for years without a proper budget, but then I just decided to open my eyes and look at what I was working with. I made a budget that included all my sources of income and expenses. A detailed budget is necessary to get a handle on where your money is going, and to decide where you want it to be going. Plus we have technology at our finger tips, there are so many apps which can help you log your spending and work out a detailed budget rather than having to use old school spreadsheets…sorry, those old school spreadsheets still work hey!
This is a skill I am thankful to have mastered because I have come to realize that most people do not like to negotiate. It seems easier to just accept an offer than to negotiate. This skill comes in handy when dealing with salary offers and increases. A point to take on this skill is that negotiators are willing to walk away if they cannot get a good deal. In this way you’ll learn things in deals that don’t work out that help you get a better deal in future.
3. Separating Needs vs. Wants
Do I need a new pair of heels? The advert on my social media says I do…the heels are beautiful though. If I don’t buy them, I save R600 and if I buy them I spend/loose R600. Separating needs from wants is a key personal finance skill. The best way to make spending decisions is to become disciplined at distinguishing needs from wants. Of course its still okay to occasionally give in to the wants and ‘treat yo self’, but learning to distinguish between the two means you will have a better understanding of whether you can afford the want (in this case the beautiful heels) or not.
4. Continuous Investment
People who are financially successful do more than reduce spending and save money. They take the next step and invest money that they free up. Such investment mentality is what allows the money you have saved to grow into real wealth that can create new lifestyle and allow you the freedom to pursue your interests. This requires real discipline to keep investing money for the future rather than spending now.
5. Do it Yourself (DIY)
I have come to notice that whenever you ask someone to do something for you, it seems to come with a charge. I have come to reduce domestic work by doing most of the chores and teaching my children to do basic chores which includes gardening. This has reduced the housekeeping and gardening charges and allocated the savings to a fixed savings. This applies to business practices. When saving money or starting up in a business, learn to do certain things yourself to save and to minimize your budget. When I started my business, I needed a website and I could only afford to pay for the web hosting but the website design quotations used to make me want to drop off my chair. Then I went to YouTube and learned how to create a website for free. I’m not a creative though so I asked a graphic designer to revamp it; because I had done most of the initial work, I was charged close to nothing.
6. Say No
Saying ‘No’ is almost always a time and money saver. Would you like to subscribe to that magazine? The sales pitch is so appalling you feel pressured to say yes. How about ‘No!’. Learning to say ‘no’ and not feel bad about it can save you a lot of time, money and distress.
Contentment is living with a positive attitude and being satisfied with all the things you have achieved, instead of constantly wanting more. Part of being content with what you have is to stop caring about what other people think. This means setting your own standards for happiness. This can be challenging to achieve as you might see photos of luxurious vacations, vehicles etc. on social media and friends buying and achieving. The key is to stay disciplined in your path and not compare yourself to others because you can spend a lot of money trying to keep up with the Joneses.
You basically just need to know how much money is coming in and what you’re spending on. Goal setting is very imperative. Just a little tip, I saved over R1000 during a 2-month period by taking prepared lunch to work, rather than buying it daily. Therefore, it can be done but needs a bit of discipline, passion and motivation. Lastly, vision-boarding works…put those budget and financial goals on your wall. Like they say if you want money, you must see it first.