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You Should Understand What Money Really Means

You Should Understand What Money Really Means

“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” Oscar Wilde.

Money is a strange concept: those who do not have it aim for it and those who do have it are full of apprehensions. But really, what is money? It is hard to define money, and agree on one single definition of it. We can make our lives easier if we understood what money really is:

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Money: It’s a need

To be honest, there is little left that you cannot buy with money. Money is essential for survival if not for comfort. The comfort and luxury come only when you have more money than you need for surviving. Who doesn’t want a new car; an air-conditioned well-furnished house; trendy clothes and all the new gadgets and gizmos in town?  Therefore, it is not the cause of everything wrong in our society, but it is a means of staying in society.

Money is all about control

It is easy to lose control whenever and wherever money is involved. Damaging factors such as greed, money lust, power can take control over the sanest of humans; especially, when the line between these factors and factors such as survival, expenses and comfort is thin. People want to match up, or to stay a step ahead of, the current lifestyle of their peers. This makes them lose their focus to fulfilling their hedonistic needs. What they don’t realize is that fulfilling hedonistic need is a trap of consumerism.

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Dreams come true: because of money

Those who dream to make a fuss of money, fame and power need to realize that you can make money only if you have money. You need to be smart about money to reach a certain benchmark, and when you have attained that benchmark you can make your dream into a reality. It is not necessary, though that you dream only of dollars and cents, your dream can be internally rewarding rather than being financially beneficial, such as that of being a writer, artist, blogger and so forth. What you can do is not starve and enjoy such endeavors if you plan them out smartly and have a supplementary income balancing your primary income.

Easy to be a slave to money

It is easy to be a slave to money, especially when it can open gates of luxury and comfort for you. Consumerism is a tricky spider, which can trap you in its web. As I said earlier, money is all about being in control and using that control to make your dreams come true.

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Budget: Track your expenses

You should be aware of how much you make and how much you are spending. You should also be making more than you can spend. Track down your expenses to see where you are spending the most and to cut that expense down, if necessary. The reason behind this is to make sure you have enough cash left over to invest in a nest and/or that you remain debt free.

Create a vision of yourself for yourself

Of course dreams are just dreams, you need them to be realistic enough so that they can be incorporated into a vision that you have built for yourself. The vision will help you set a timer on your activities, so that you can move on to the next step until you ultimately reach a desired state you have been aiming for from the beginning.

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Money or Self-worth: difficult choice to make

If you ask any wise man in your circle, and anyone who has had experience with making money they will claim it is a mutually exclusive decision regarding self-worth and money. You cannot have them both at the same time, but making money is empowering, and therefore, if you make little money, you can be happy because the source of it increases your self-worth.

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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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