Financial success is on everyone’s mind. I’m sure like many Americans, you’re constantly worried about money.
It’s the American way, right? Thinking you’re vastly underpaid, always dreaming about the perfect future job, all while bouncing your checking account on a regular basis.
Like you, I too could have built a shed out of the enormous pile of overdrawn checking account slips I received in the mail. At $35 a pop, I was the bank’s favorite customer. This is how banks are making money now – why would they want to me get better?
It doesn’t always have to be like that, living paycheck-to-paycheck. But you need to get a handle on your finances. You need to tell your money where to go, and remind it who’s in charge (that would be you, BTW…)
Luckily, there’s some simple steps for how to achieve financial peace:
Financial Success #1 – Set a Budget
Budgets are no harder than 2nd Grade math, but for whatever reason Americans love to spend money willy-nilly. Like it’s too painful to set boundaries and stick to it.
But you know what? You suck at money and you need some guidelines. So set a budget. It’s incredibly easy.
Telling your money where to go, before you’ve even received it, is incredibly rewarding and life changing. It’s also fun.
My wife and I decided to budget $75/week to dining out. It’s been fun for us to figure ways to stretch our cash and make the most of our weekend plans.
One Saturday we blew our cash at the Cheesecake Factory, which is very easy to do, and delicious. The next week we got a pizza, visited a food truck, and chilled at a brewery.
It’s all possible, and very manageable. It’s doubly rewarding too, knowing that you actually have money to spend. You have a license to spend. You don’t have to worry about spending too much or how many times you’ve ate out that week. Because once the money is gone, it’s gone until next week.
We use physical cash to stay on budget. It sounds so 19th Century, and we get crazy looks everywhere we go with our stack of cash, but it keeps us honest. If we just swipe a credit card at every corner, we’d be toast. We’re not that smart to spend wisely – that’s how we got in trouble in the first place.
Financial Success #2 – Get Rid of Credit Cards
Ouch! “But I need my credit card,” you whine like a 14 year old girl getting her SnapChat privileges revoked.
No, you don’t need a credit card. No one needs a credit card. These are horrible inventions that need to die. Why does every one think it’s ok to purchase all our wants and desires on credit? The only people it makes sense for are the banks who are robbing you blind to begin with.
Get rid of it (all of them… and all those dumb department store ones too).
If you literally don’t have the money, you shouldn’t be spending it. That’s not hard. But we’ve become accustomed to the credit card slaves and ignore the financial ruin we’re putting ourselves in.
Maybe your argument is the credit card is your emergency fund if things go bad. That’s a horrible excuse. Save some money and put it on the side. The only reason things are going bad is because you have a credit card to begin with. So stop lying to yourself.
Financial Success #3 – Become a Saver
It’s incredibly freeing to have money in the bank. When things do go wrong, and they will – the car breaks down, you lose a job – you’ll have your own money to bail yourself out and make decisions.
You have to actively strive to be a saver. You need to stop needing things you can’t afford and get comfortable with the money you make.
If you’re not comfortable it’s your own fault. Stop watching TV commercials and wishing you had a bigger house. No one was ever happy from buying these things. There’s temporary euphoria, and this is the consumer cycle we’re stuck in, but all things fade.
Most importantly live in a house you can afford and drive a car you you’ve paid for.
Financial Success #4 – Drive a Used Car
This step is a must. If you’re not financially free and you’re miserable, you need to drive around a used car for a bit. There’s no other purchase than a new car which will suck the life right out of your checking account.
Granted, a used car comes with some risks and can break down. This is why you now save money and save for emergencies. You’ve been stupid with your money, so this is the punishment you deserve.
But in all reality, driving a used car is great. Once you realize you don’t have a car payment flying out the window every month, and you happened to get let go from a job, you’ll be super thankful you hung onto that used Honda Civic for those 100k+ miles.
Besides, no one should be driving a new car except for people who can afford it – they’ve carefully budgeted and saved for it. New cars are stupid and only dumb people buy them.
Every time I see a new car on the road I smile and think how miserable the person driving it is. But seriously, I wish that person understood this information before hand, and had read an article like this one – so please share it to someone who needs to hear. But some lessons have to be learned firsthand, the hard way, I guess.
Financial Success – Action Plan:
- Set a budget
- No more credit cards
- Save money
- Drive a used car
Do you think about money all the time? Is money making you miserable? Have you tried setting a budget? What budget tricks work for you?