Do You Really Want To Improve Your Financial Well-Being?
Year after year millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but why wait until the New Year to begin practicing healthy personal financial habits? Here are six ways to improve your financial well-being.
#1: Practice giving instead of lending. Have family members or friends asked you to borrow money? If you haven’t been given this advice before, let me be the first to suggest that you are more likely to save a relationship with a friend or family member by giving, rather than lending money to them. How many relationships have been ruined as a result of a debt that has gone unpaid? Why not consider giving next time. However, be careful because giving in and of itself can also become a problem for those who don’t know how, why or when to say “No”.
#2: Eliminate an unbridled tendency to spend. A 2012 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances calculated that 48% of American households spend more money than they earn. When asked by a Member of the United States Congress during a Congressional Budget Hearing if he could offer any helpful advice, the late Christian Financial author, Larry Burkett happily replied “the same wise counsel that works for individuals will also work for the State and Federal Government. Spend less than what you earn!”
Wealth is seldom made by consuming possessions. Remember, the saying, “all that glitters isn’t gold!” Therefore, whatever possessions you feel you can’t live without today will probably find itself in a thrift store, or on your front porch as a donated item tomorrow.
#3: Not contributing to IRAs or workplace retirement plans. Despite the many complaints about the low annual contribution limits on 401(k)s and traditional and Roth IRAs, these retirement savings vehicles4 offer you remarkable wealth-building opportunities. The earlier you contribute to them, the better; the more you contribute to them, the more compounding of those invested assets you may potentially realize.
#4: Crown yourself King or Queen of the Coupon. With gas prices approaching $4.00 per gallon, can you really afford NOT to avail yourself of coupons? I am grateful for a wife who is disciplined to clip coupons. I am beyond thrilled whenever she shows me how much money we have saved because she takes time to search through the newspapers and magazines in order to find a coupon that we can use.
#5: Not using cash often enough. Just because the world runs on credit that doesn’t mean you should. Get a debit card and pay with cash as often as you can. Why create unnecessary debit for an item that will quickly be disposed of, or depreciates in value?
#6: Gambling. For those who enjoy going to the casino, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine that you have climbed to the top of a very high mountain. Now, as you stand at the summit with very high winds blowing, your hands are full of one’s, fives, tens, or twenty dollar bills, whatever cash denomination you are willing to spend at the Casino.
Now, picture that your hands are full of cash as you begin to slowly loosen your grasp as you feel the wind gently blowing your hard earned cash right out of your pretty little hands and into the sky all around you and eventually out of sight.
It’s been said that in gambling the odds are always stacked very high against you. Don’t forget, Rule #1: The House always wins! Remember, Rule #2: The House seldom looses! Rule #3…I think you get my point. Stay out of the casinos and don’t play the lottery if you ever want to improve your financial well-being.
You can decide to improve your financial well-being immediately. However, if you want to live a financially healthy life, every day you must commit to destroy any bad financial habits that you may have. Otherwise, those habits can and most likely will wreak havoc on your financial life and peace of mind in the future.
Martin A. Smith is the President of Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc. and a MD Fee-Only Financial Advisor.