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The 5 Pillars of Financial Health

The 5 Pillars of Financial Health

Getting on your feet financially isn’t rocket science. It’s simple, but it requires a proactive and persevering mindset. Here are five principles that apply to every person on the planet when it comes to their financial health. I call it the BISEED and you’ll see why.

1. Budget

The first step to taking charge of your finances is understanding where your money is coming from and where it’s going. Once you’ve painted this financial landscape of your situation, you’ll be ready to strategically move forward, get out of debt, and go further. The second step of budgeting, has to do with deciding what’s a priority, how you can spend less on expenses, and then plan and project your short and mid-term financial situation. There’s nothing new here. But then again, most people get budgeting right and then just stop. That’s a financially fatal mistake!

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2. Invest

Your budget may not look great. Money-sucking-black-holes (personal loans!), high mortgages and lots of unexpected expenses makes you wonder, “How in the world am I ever going to get out of this!?” Glad you asked: make your money work for you. This is also how you break free from the mentality that money buys you things. Money’s power isn’t in how much it can buy—and really, it can never buy the most important things of life; love, joy and health—but money’s power rests in it’s ability to be multiplied. That’s what investing is: money multiplying.

How do you invest then? You first invest by giving because that breaks the powerful hold of money on you. And then, wherever you are, whatever the economic situation and whatever your budget—invest in any of the millions of ways you can.

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Now, most people just jump in the water without knowing how to swim. Why traumatize yourself? Before you invest, spend time—days, weeks, even months—learning about investing and exploring opportunities that come your way.

3. Save

But never for the long term! Saving cash in an account will always generate a loss—we’re talking years here. But saving is an excellent strategy, not to build wealth, but to reach specific, short and mid-term goals. Saving is also good to smooth out the rough edges of your monthly and yearly budgeting cycle, as life happens and that means many unexpected expenses arise.

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4. Entrepreneurial Endeavors (EEs)

A huge lie many people swallow is the belief that they’re not cut out to start or run a business. They come up with all sorts of excuses to convince themselves this, but the truth is, it’s all about what you are willing to do and learn. Being an entrepreneur is different from being an investor, because you are doing the work that you love, preferably, to earn money. Many times people jump into EEs because they have no other choice, but why wait till the pressure builds like that? (Speaking of which, I highly recommend the great movie Joy!) And why deny yourself the personal rewards of running a business? There are a virtually infinite number of ways you can start engaging in EEs. Whether you start something on the side or even grow further to the point where you quit your day job, dream big, and enjoy the journey!

5. Debt

Debt is last because if you focus on debt, it’s bound to bring you down, down, down. So before you drown, face your dragons head on. Debt is just a number, it’s not who you are. Speaking of dragons, why are you in debt? Because you spend more than you earn. So, the answer is easy, right? Spend less! Not really. Go out there and invest and make business. You’re most powerful weapon is your mind, so exercise and nurture it to grow financially. That said, the real way to get out of debt is to both increase your income (investing and EE’s or even getting a better job) AND spending less.

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BISEED. Buy Seed. That’s what money is. It’s a seed, and like the seeds you sow, when handled correctly, money will multiply.

Here’s to your bright financial future! Cheers.

Featured photo credit: Dogancan Ozturan via unsplash.com

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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