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7 Things I’m Doing Right Now To Improve My Financial Situation

7 Things I’m Doing Right Now To Improve My Financial Situation

    Just like most folks, I don’t consider my financial situation perfect. I have some debt that I need to pay off and some goals I want to achieve. Moving forward on financial matters can seem so difficult. Saying that ‘I want to get out of debt’ is general — there’s no clear starting point. And that’s just the minor stuff: figuring out taxes can make you wish we all still relied on barter. But setting your financial house in order isn’t impossible. You just need a starting point.

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    These steps are my starting points. Not just any starting points, either: these are my ‘back to basics,’ ‘work on when I have no idea what else to do,’ ‘got to keep with it’ tasks.

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    1. I set goals. My financial goals are very set things, though. They have dollar amounts and due dates, no matter what. After all, my finances are all about numbers. It just makes sense that my financial goals are the same way. I consider something along the lines of ‘I will save $500 by the end of this month for my emergency fund.’ I also think it’s crucial to know from the start what your money is for. Saving for shoes or for getting laid off is easy, but just saving is hard.
    2. I read. I know I don’t know everything there is to know about personal finance. I’m working on correcting that, though. Right now, I’m reading up on stocks — a subject that was not even mentioned during the one semester of financial literacy education my high school provided. Because I’m well aware of the deficiencies of my official personal finance education, I read a lot. I want to know all about different ideas, even if I don’t agree with them.
    3. I take my time. When it comes to a financial decision, including spending relatively large sums of money, I wait. While I might have an instinctive reaction (often along the lines of ‘Buy it! Buy it!’), I’ve found that I save a lot of money by just deciding to come back later. The same holds true on other financial decisions. Before I chose a bank, I take some time and do some research.
    4. I put my money out of reach. I’m lucky — I don’t have a problem resisting the urge to use my credit card. But if I have cash in my pocket, I always have a burning desire to spread the wealth around. I try to head this urge off: I don’t carry much cash. I’ve gone a step beyond that, though. Most of my savings is in an account that, while I can get my money in an emergency, I do have to jump through some hoops to make a withdrawal. Having to go through a few extra steps when I want cash makes me reluctant to spend money when I don’t actually need to.
    5. I improve my income. Passive income is the best thing since sliced bread. Whenever I get the opportunity to set up a passive income stream — even if it’s just a static website with Google AdSense — I do what I can to take full advantage of it. I do what I can to improve my other sources of income, as well. I negotiate for higher pay, take on side projects and generally do whatever I can to increase the amount of money I have coming in.
    6. I run a business. It seems like having a business would be more effort and expense than it would be worth, financially speaking. But you can effectively run a business for free, and it offers several advantages. Consider your ‘business expenses.’ If you run a blog or other computer-based business, that computer you just bought could be tax deductible. You just lowered your tax bill by making a purchase that you probably would anyway.
    7. I do things myself. Some instances of frugality, like making your own soap, may not improve your financial situation. It may not be worth your time to do some things yourself. But I’ve found several things to do myself that have saved me money, liking baking my own bread. Even better, if I’m doing some task I’d normally pay someone else to do, in addition to saving that fee I’m not out spending money on entertainment. Sure, it may not be cheaper for me to grow my own tomatoes, but when I’m gardening, I’m spending only a fraction of what I would at the movie theater.

    There are lots of little things that we can do to tidy up our respective financial situations. It’s important to remember that it’s not an all or nothing proposition you can make progress on your financial goals without committing to complete frugality, massive saving and working every hour in the day. That sort of approach will probably only last you a few days before you break down. But if you work on just a small task or two at a time, you can make a lasting change in your approach to personal finance. Even doing something as simple as eating one extra meal at home each week can make a profound difference in your bank balance.

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    None of the steps I’ve listed before need to be hardcore processes. Even running a business can be something as simple as selling your old stuff on eBay. Each of these steps can be as small — or as big — of a commitment as you would like. Personally, though, I go for the light workload.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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