Money In Perspective

I had a young man ask my wife me this week how we managed to get to the financial point in life of retiring at an early age and not having to ever worry about money. I told him that it came down to four actions.

1. Live Below Your Means

We are bombarded every day of our lives to strive for more. More money. A bigger house or apartment. A new car. The newest fashion. The latest smartphone. And the list could go on for ever. When you step back and really think about it, everyone wants your money and there’s really little to no narrative about the need to keep some money for yourself. Even worse, the whole credit industry wants you to spend more than what you have.

Allowing yourself to be seduced to always spending more than you can actually pay for at the moment is the culprit that will keep you enslaved to your creditors. We should you work as hard as you do to financially support everyone else. You need to be securing your own financial well-being, not that of everyone else attempting to get every dollar you earn. Your financial stability and well-being are actually quite simple. Spend below your ability to pay. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do you spend on your actual needs and how much do you spend on your wants?
  • Would cutting the spending on your wants in half or more put you in a better financial position every month? Would this allow you to become aggressive at paying down your debts? Would you be able to get serious about saving money for your own financial health?

The ugly truth
In most cases, your current financial position in life is exactly where you planned to be. Your past and recent actions regarding money led you to your current financial standing … good or poor.

The only way you can climb out of the pit of financial hell and to start getting ahead is to live below your means and commit to spending less and saving more.

It sounds easy. In reality, it can be the most difficult task you have ever undertaken.

2. Live a Simple Life

Life is as complex as you make it or allow it. Simple tastes, simple pleasures, and simple living will typically put you in a position of spending your money on the things in life that really matter. Those things that build life-long, cherished memories.

You will have no need or desire to keep up with the latest gadgets, a new car, or a bigger-improved-restyled everything. Contentment will bring peace to your life — not the continual stress of not being happy with what you have and always needing more or something new.

3. Pay Yourself First

The first bill you pay every paycheck is to your savings and/or investment accounts. If you wait until after everything thing else is paid, you’ll never save and invest enough money to attain financial health and independence.

4. Strictly Manage Debt

Depending on where you are in life, an auto loan or a home mortgage may be required. Credit card or personal loan debt should always be avoided. The interest rates on these types of unsecured debts are typically much higher than secured loans. When using a credit card, pay the full balance every month.

Financially successful people understand that interest is something to be earned — not paid.

Conclusion

There is no secret to attaining financial health and well-being. All it takes is:

  • Always be mindful of your money
  • Have a simple lifestyle
  • Manage your expenses
  • Manage your debt
  • Always pay yourself first

This isn’t rocket science, but it does take concentrated effort and commitment.


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Published by W. M. Brown

I am a retired U.S. expat living in Ecuador. I was a business owner for 32 years before retiring in 2012.

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