Today’s post is courtesy of Charles at CreditDonkey, where you can find and compare credit card deals. CreditDonkey’s credit card tips blog writes about how credit impacts our lives and offers tips on managing your personal and small business finances.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably have your concerns about the recent recession and how it affected you. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or have friends or family members that have lost their jobs. You can’t help but notice that the news and people everywhere are talking about how “tough” times are these days.
You should be concerned about your financial future, but not in a fearful way. We should be concerned about increasing our financial health and doing whatever we have to do to be sure that we are set now, and in the future.
Let’s begin living a healthier financial life with 3 key ingredients. They are the salt, pepper and olive oil of your finances:
Ingredient #1 – Written Financial Plan
An amazingly large number of us do not have a written plan for our finances. The majority of those that do say they are better off financially because of their plan, according to a recent Ipsos Reid study. Assuming that you do not have a written plan, the first ingredient for delectable finances is getting one done.
A financial plan comes in many forms, just like pasta. When writing your financial plan, make sure to write a plan that complements your lifestyle and personality. Like pasta, we want to serve angel hair with light, thin sauce, and fettuccine with heavier sauces.
- Type A personality – comprehensive budgeting with tools like Quicken, Mint, or Money.
- Type B personality – list of goals.
While a comprehensive budget might be perfect for a Type A personality who pushes him or herself with deadlines, and hates delays and ambivalence, it might backfire on a Type B personality, who prefers a more relaxed approach. For a Type B personality, having a list of goals will help overcome the occasional lack of a “sense of urgency”.
No matter where you are financially–a student in college, a 28-year old professional, or a 50 year old who has been laid off, write down your financial picture and create some goals. This is one of the best things that you can do to create forward momentum.
Ingredient #2 – Wisdom
The next ingredient toward delectable finances is “Wisdom”. Wisdom is knowledge put into practice. It is not enough just to know “about” financial freedom, you must apply your knowledge each and every day of your life.
Searching for wisdom is like shopping for produce. You’re standing in front of the fruit section at your local supermarket. On one side, you have conventional fruit. On the other side, you have organic fruit. Both fruits offer vitamins, nutrients, and promises a healthy life.
When you search for wisdom, just like fruit, there’s conventional wisdom and then there are extremes. We can aim to save just 5% of our salary or we can save over 95% of our salary. In life, wisdom comes with balance. Just like you should buy fruits “in season”, you can vary your savings rate. As long as you plan in advance, you can save more between Labor Day to Halloween, and less between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Wisdom is useless without action:
- Don’t just agree that credit card purchases are not wise. Do not use them!
- Don’t just agree that overspending on automobiles, vacations, or other recreational things is not wise. Don’t overspend! Create a budget and stick to that budget.
- Don’t just agree that fast food is bad for your health. Requesting a Diet Coke with your Supersized Big Mac with Extra Sauce Meal won’t help.
- Learn the art of delayed gratification and watch your savings account increase and your financial stress decrease.
Ingredient #3 – Time
Lastly, add a good deal of “Time” to your recipe. Nothing of great success or value happens instantly.
It takes time for your vegetable garden to flourish, fruits to ripen, steak to dry age, and our favorite, wine to age. Of course, some will say in finance there are shortcuts, just like in food. Sure, we can pump ethylene to ripen our produce, wet age steak, or Clef du Vin our wine, but there are trade-offs and possible unintended consequences.
Are you always in a rush, trying to accomplish everything at once? We all can get impatient and get frustrated, or even irritated by slight delays. Paying off debt takes time, increasing your savings account takes time, teaching your kids financial disclipine takes time, preparing for retirement takes time, and so on. Don’t grow weary while in route to financial freedom.
Time requires patience. A great byproduct of patience is reduction of stress and anxiety. With less stress and anxiety, you’ll make better financial decisions.
In a rush to break open the piggy bank? Give yourself a delay. Don’t think of it as a month-long delay; ask yourself if you can wait until tomorrow. If you’re still thinking of breaking the piggy bank tomorrow, ask yourself if you can wait another day. Take it one day at a time and, before you know it, the wait will be over.
You can sit down and enjoy hot, delicious, and delectable finances with the right ingredients, so begin today by writing down your financial plan, applying the financial wisdom that you have, and being patient while your financial life prospers each and every day.
Photo by jeffreyw