Now that 2014 is in full swing we’ve put together a 5 Part Blog series that will help you to master your money and greatly improve your financial health this year.
In our opinion there’s no better time like the present to take a long, hard look at your finances, from banking to insurance, investments and anything else that has to do with money. Whether you’re looking to increase your earning power this year, start that emergency savings plan that you’ve been putting off for so long or manage your money more effectively, the 50 Tips that you’ll find in this and the next 5 articles are sure to help you meet your goals and, hopefully, exceed them. Enjoy.
Tip 1: Don’t focus on the how, focus on the why.
We read a very interesting research study recently put out by the University of Delaware. The author, Julia Bayuk, found that when people plan how they will reach a financial goal (like saving more money) they actually have a harder time reaching that goal than if they simply focus on the reason why they want to do it. Her research found that if a person focuses on the motivational factors behind a financial goal rather than the specifics of how to achieve it, their likelihood of success increases greatly. The reason seems to be that it’s a more abstract way of thinking, and most people can deal with any unexpected challenges that pop up more easily when they’re thinking abstractly. (So put that in your thinking cap and think it!)
Tip 2: Change the relationship that you have with money.
Speaking of abstract, one suggestion that we read recently was to think of money as a person rather than as a thing. That suggestion was made by Christine Hassler, a life coach who wrote a book called ‘20 Something, 20 Everything’. Her belief is that most people who have financial problems have a negative history with money of one kind or another, including either growing up poor or, conversely, growing up spoiled. It’s her belief that the first step to fixing any financial problems that you have is to first fix your dysfunctional relationship with money and, by treating it as a person (which, frankly, sounds slightly weird to us), you can start the healing process. (So, if you hear us talking to our friends George, Thomas and Benjamin, don’t be surprised if we’re talking into our wallet.)
Tip 3: Protect your most valuable asset; your privacy.
Simply put, each and every time that you are asked for your social security number, especially the entire number, first question if it’s truly necessary to share it with the person who’s asking. Never (and we do mean NEVER) give your social security number to someone talking to you on the telephone or in an email. When it comes to your credit cards be vigilant and check them at least once a week to make sure that you don’t see any suspicious charges, something that could mean that you’ve been victimized by an identity thief.
Tip 4: Plan your Financial Comeback.
What we are alluding to here is simply that, if you’ve been struggling with your finances over the past several years, 2014 can be the year that you plan to get your financial house back in order. If that means paying down your credit card debt (finally), cutting back on frivolous spending or even taking extra classes to increase your skill set and give yourself the opportunity to earn more, make those your goals and don’t stop until you’ve met them. It might take you longer than 12 months to accomplish what you are setting out to do, but we assure you that the end result is worth the financial blood, sweat and tears.
Tip 5: Visualize what your future financial self will look like.
Research from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business has shown that people who feel a connection to the person they will be in the future are more likely to postpone any instant gratification today. Simply put, if you can see yourself in your mind’s eye 5 years, 10 years or more from now and visualize what your life will be like (or what you want it to be like) it makes making financial decisions today much easier and helps you to make smarter decisions.
Those are the first 5 Tips that we’ve got for you and we think that they should give you a lot of food for thought. Our next 4 Blogs will have 10 to 12 Tips each to help you conquer your finances in the coming months. We hope to see you back here soon and also encourage you to drop us a note if you have any questions about personal finances whatsoever.