Of course, everybody wants to be rich and have an endless source of money. When most people think about wealth, their immediate thoughts jump to the billionaire lifestyle. You have seen it before the mansions, expensive cars, jets, and the vaults of gold. But this view of finance is unhealthy and can be holding you back from maximizing your wealth.
Expert financial adviser Trent Hamm recently broke down 60 key principles of personal finance. We put together the top 5 rules that can help you overcome some of your financial pitfalls.
Spend less than you earn
If there is a single fundamental rule of personal finance, it’s this. You have to spend less than you earn and put away that difference for the future so that you can still survive and thrive when you’re older and don’t have the opportunities and energy of today. Without your earnings being greater than your expenses, you simply cannot achieve big financial goals without some sort of miracle – and you should never bet your future on a miracle.
Don’t ever let your “future self” take care of your current situation
Do you ever tell yourself that it’s okay to make a bad spending decision right now because you’ll earn more money down the road? That’s a giant mistake, one you’ll almost always regret for a long, long time. Sure, your future self might have more income, but it’s also fairly likely that your future self might have less income and you’ll find yourself in a really bad situation. Even if your future self is doing well, there are probably going to be other big expenses that you’ll want to deal with at that time, like buying a house.
Build a budget, just for the process of building it right
A budget can be a useful tool for keeping your spending on track, but the most valuable part of budgeting is actually the process of building a budget correctly. How does one do it correctly? You build a budget based on looking at your actual spending over the previous few months.
How much do you actually spend a month on food? Entertainment? Utilities? Your car? Get real numbers, not estimates. Dig through your bank statements and credit card statements and figure it out. This process will easily show you the areas where you actually overspend, while just following a “cookie cutter” budget doesn’t show you much of anything. It’s an excellent habit to get into, especially since professional security can be unpredictable, and you may find yourself looking for new employment.
Request rate reductions on your debts, especially credit card debts
If you owe any debts, it never hurts to look into the possibility of reducing your interest rates on those debts. For credit cards, it’s as easy as simply calling up your credit card company and asking for a reduction. For other bills, such as student loans, a consolidation can lower your interest rate. With your mortgage, a refinancing can reduce your rate dramatically.
Lowering interest rates can both reduce your monthly payments and reduce the total amount of interest that you pay over the life of a loan, so any reduction you can get is a good thing for your wallet.
Don’t worry about how other people spend their money, either
If you see someone driving an expensive car, don’t use that as an excuse to feel jealous or to tell yourself that you, too, need an expensive car. You don’t. Just because other people choose to buy things or eat at certain restaurants or whatever else people in your life choose to do with their money does not mean you need to do it too. Make choices and spend money on things that build up the things you care about, not the things other people care about.