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5 Things You Should Know About Personal Finance

5 Things You Should Know About Personal Finance

    Money.  Oh money.  It makes the world go ’round.  It’s one of the biggest reasons for divorce.  It either frees us or enslaves us.  It is the commodity of all commodities.  And yet, as much as many of us make, most of us know so little about how it works.  I blame our parents.  They should have known.  They should have taught us.  Well, either way, I’m about to give you a quick crash course in cash money 101, and how personal finances should work.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.  Hopefully you’ll be enlightened.

    1. How a credit card works

    Credit cards are an interesting commodity.  They can either work for you or against you, depending on how much you know about them and how smart you are with them.  The biggest problem with credit cards, though, is that we gain access to them before we know enough about them.  Your parents should have taught you how they work, but sadly, many adults don’t even know exactly how they work.  This article should help.  Read it.  Then read it again.

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    2. How to create a budget

    Budgeting is something that people either love or hate to do.  Personally I hate it.  But I keep a general budget because it’s important to know where my money is going.  A friend of mine knows where every dollar he spends goes.  I’d rather divide my money into 2 different accounts, business and pleasure.  I give myself an “allowance” to do whatever I want with monthly, and the rest stays in my “business” account for bills and other living expenses.  Need a crash course on building a budget?  Check this out.

    3. The time value of money

    The time value of money is a simple principal to understand:  basically it states that any amount of money is worth more today than the same amount of money in the future due to it’s earning potential.  This means that if you have $100 to invest today, it’s worth more than $100 a year from now, because it could be gaining value through investments for a year.  Let’s assume you average 9% on your investments… Your $100 today will be worth $109 in a year, whereas getting $100 a year from now is only worth about $91, due to the value of money lost in the year.

    This is very important when you consider the next point…

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    4. Start investing early

    Take a look at this chart.  Basically what it states is that when Saver B starts investing earlier on in life, the time value of his money allows for gaining potential so much greater that even though Saver A invested more than 4 times the amount of Saver B, Saver B has gained more than $400k more than Saver A by retirement.

    Moral of the story?  If you start investing now, you’ll have much more than if you wait till you make more money, even if you invested more in the years to come.

    5. Let your money work for you

    We were all taught that it is important to gain a good education and to learn valuable skills to enter the job force and start a good career.  But here’s what few of us have learned:  more important than having a good job is learning how to make your money work for you.  Consider this: if you can save $500k, and you average 10% on your investment portfolio, you will gain $50k annually without doing anything other than having the money.  $2 million will earn you $200k per year (earning 10%).  $10 million will earn $1 million per year.  The more you invest, the more you’ll make, without lifting a finger (well, other than managing your money, of course).

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    Sure it’s important to have a good job.  But it’s even more important to be investing your money, no matter how much you’re making.  If the goal is financial security and freedom, it doesn’t take rocket science; just a little discipline and sacrifice early on.  And what you’ll gain is so much more than what you could buy today.

    One last note:  $1 at age 18 can’t get you more than a coke, or maybe a dollar menu burger.  But $1 at age 18 is worth $54 at age 60 (assuming 10% again).  Keep that in mind the next time you stop at Starbucks.  Your cup of joe is actually taking more than $150 out of your retirement fund.

    Spend wisely.

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    Photo Credit: aresauburn

    More by this author

    Ibrahim Husain

    Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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