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18 Things Financially Mature People Don’t Do

18 Things Financially Mature People Don’t Do

Jaws dropped during that classic scene in the 1995 movie Sabrina. Sabrina’s father is revealed to be more than just a quiet chauffeur with a passion for good books. He’s shockingly a millionaire! How did he accrue such wealth on a presumably modest salary? By imitating the investing habits of his prosperous employer. You too can learn from financially mature people. You can avoid costly mistakes by watching what they do – and perhaps more importantly, what they don’t do.

1. They don’t spend more than they make

A recent Yahoo Finance study found that “fewer than half of Americans are spending less than they earn.” This problem is compounded by high credit card interest rates. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to a budget, try switching to cash as your currency. This will quickly stop the bleeding because once cash is gone the spending has to stop.

2. They don’t wait until the end of the month to see how their money is doing

Credit card bills should be formalities, not surprises. Expense tracking apps (or a pen and paper) help you stay on top of your money.

3. They don’t pay for subscriptions they aren’t using

Gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, and season tickets to your favorite team’s games are great – if you actually use them. Spend some time going through your credit card statement and cancel a few forgotten subscriptions. Chances are, you won’t miss them.

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4. They don’t overlook small expenses

Small expenses add up. Look for opportunities to reduce them. Relax the air conditioning when you leave the house, turn off the lights in an empty room, use a refillable water bottle instead of buying a new case every week.

5. They don’t automatically spend “surprise money”

Tax returns and birthday money don’t have to be spent the day they’re received. Put some in savings, or use it to pay off debt.

6. They don’t use shopping to help them feel better

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary argues that “retail therapy” should be avoided altogether. But come on now. We’re the species that invented sugarless candy – surely we can redeem the post-break up shopping spree? Here’s an idea: When heartbreak or frustration beckons you to the mall, think of one item you actually need. Maybe it’s a new pair of work shoes or a birthday gift for a friend. Set a “budget” for yourself and take only the CASH for that item. Then, enjoy a little shopping.

7. They don’t gift shop at the last minute

It happens to the best of us. We remember a birthday or anniversary with mere hours to spare. Then we’re off the nearest store in search of a last-minute gift and in our panic, we buy something expensive to hide the fact that we don’t have a card and the gift isn’t wrapped. Gifts are given to express love and affection. Shopping a little sooner can help you find a thoughtful, less expensive gift that shows how much you care. 

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8. They don’t eat out every meal

A recent experiment conducted by the Boston Globe found one home cooked meal cost half the price of a comparable restaurant meal.

9. They don’t waste leftovers

One of the easiest ways to make eating out more affordable is to simply save your leftovers. You can turn one meal into two.

10. They don’t let purchased food expire

Throwing away food is throwing away money. If you struggle with stinky fridge syndrome, try making more frequent trips to the grocery store. Buy exactly what you’ll need for the next 2 or 3 days, instead of “stocking up” for the week or the month.

11. They don’t spend money without stopping to think

Have you ever examined an old purchase and wondered, “What was I thinking?” Financially mature people ask the right question: “Do I absolutely love this?” Skip this step, and you’ll find yourself in need of a garage sale.

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12. They don’t buy clothes they won’t wear regularly

Closet full of clothes yet “nothing to wear”? Save space and money by searching for versatile pieces you can’t wait to show off. Here’s a minimalist who’s happy to show you how (with photos).

13. They don’t buy something just because it’s a discount

An old episode of The Lucy Show poked fun at this common mistake. Lucy chided her friend for buying a 50lb bag of dog food. Her friend defended herself saying “that was half price.” To which Lucy hilariously replied, “You don’t have a dog!” If you find yourself thinking “These shoes are half off, and they’re not that bad,” take the money and buy a pair of shoes you actually like. You’re more likely to get some use out of them.

14. They don’t buy anything without asking the price

It’s an old trick. Selling stuff without ever mentioning the price and it works, because we’re often too embarrassed to ask how much something costs. We don’t want anyone thinking we’re poor, but we have it backwards. Poor is what you’ll be if you don’t ask the hard questions.

15. They don’t avoid expenses that save them trouble and money in the future

Getting the oil changed may be annoying, but it’s cheaper than a new car. Getting your teeth cleaned may be uncomfortable, but would you rather have a root canal? When you’re trying to cut back on spending, trim from the fat, not the essentials.

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16. They don’t buy into get rich quick schemes

When people really do strike proverbial gold, they probably don’t tell the world about it in a “business opportunity” seminar. Financially mature people know that wealth comes through hard work and good choices over time.

17. They don’t forget to set financial goals

Without a clear goal and a doable plan, people tend to stay right where they are. Good goals illuminate the path between where you are and where you want to be.

18. They don’t let past mistakes keep them from improving

Peek at the statistics and you’ll quickly learn most of us aren’t very good with money. With practice, patience, and persistence, you can grow into financial maturity. You just have to get started. There’s an old saying. If you want a big oak tree in your backyard, the best time to plant it was 20 years ago. The second best time? Right now. Use these tips to start imitating the financially mature. Because let’s face it. Life’s more fun when there’s some money in the bank.

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Kyle Young

Operations Manager, GoinsWriter

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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