Reader Response Blog: Financial IQ

MONEY! WEALTH! RICH! POOR! SAVINGS! BUDGET! DEBT! SPENDING! INVESTMENTS! LIABILITIES! ASSETS!

Financial literacy. What is it?

Most people know what money, rich, poor and debt is. The other words above are used regularly, but probably are not best understood at all times. The power of money is all around us at all times. We use it for just about anything in life. Nothing is truly free…unless we technical. The most important necessities in life cost money.

Food. Water. Shelter. Clothing.

Each of those costs money in some form or fashion.

Not to be fooled here with being money hungry or money is the root of all evil talk. The love of money is not evil, the desire and envy for money is evil. It is not bad to love money. Heck, we all want more of it in order to support our desires in life.

This is where the problem lies. DESIRES! Not all are good and not all are bad. I will not get into that because people have different opinions on that.

I’d like to focus on some key aspects of financial literacy. Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser or professional money guru. I have spent the past year learning how money actually works and trying to discover ways to better my family and myself in the game of life.

For myself, it all boils down to a few key concepts of money management and financial literacy.

  1. Saving – Goal is to save more than you spend = save majority of income
  2. Spending – Goal is to spend less than you save = Income – spending < Savings…you get the point
  3. Debt – is the single worst thing a person can put on their back in life…it will weigh you down as long as it is there.
  4. Investing – Goal is to invest in yourself. Would you rather rely on another person, another entity to build you wealth or would you rather go out and accumulate the necessary skills to build a better version of yourself in order to achieve greater gains in your very own wealth building (better paying job, more friends with more to share with).

SAVING + SPENDING:

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Take a look at what you have in savings versus what you have spent money on. I bet it doesn’t come close to matching up. Most people spend > save. My biggest concern here come from my personal thoughts: i do not want to spend most of my life working (even if it is something I truly enjoy); I would like to retire sooner than later of what is typically expected of people; I do not want to be a slave to the system that is good a good education so you can get a job, make a lot of money and retire at 63.

No offense to anyone who believes in what is the lie of work and retirement, but if I were to start working at the age of 18 (part-time while in college) and retire at age 63 (assuming the average here) I would have spent 45 years of my life working. Not sure about many other people, but that sounds ridiculous considering the average lifespan of males is like 78-80. That is over half of my life dedicated to work.

Why is this the norm? Number one reason is financial literacy is not taught or acquired by the masses. This is not the point I would like to get into though because I was not taught this and I had to acquire the knowledge myself.

We spend mindlessly on useless material objects and quick entertainment options. We think it is necessary to have the same brand new truck as the next door neighbor or the brand new cell phone that comes out every single year. It is like we are competing with other to see who has nicest, newest, biggest and best material possessions.

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Do not get me wrong, I have my material possessions too. However, last time i checked we cannot take any of them with us when we die. Which in turn, if you get down to it makes them useless. My goal now is to create memories, but not just any memory. Sure the newest movie is cool and all, but what happens when it is over? You move on to the next one. What happens after you climb over 14,000 ft. to the summit of Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains? Well for me, I will remember that forever and look forward to trying it again someday. My goal is to create lasting memories. I’d rather spend my money traveling the world…or simply sitting on the back porch watching the kids grow up than stock up on materialistic possessions.

The point is this, if we would stop mindlessly buying useless crap daily and start saving more and more money then maybe we would not have to work for 45 years straight. Simply put, imagine how much money you would have saved up if you didn’t order that Starbucks coffee daily, or bought a slightly used F250 instead of brand new right off the showroom floor. There are plenty of ways to enjoy life, purchase materials and goods you desire and still save up plenty of money for an early retirement.

Sacrifices must be made for this to happen of course. You might have to turn down and tell yourself NO repeatedly in the younger years of life, but I truly believe the payoff in the end is worth. Depending on when you get started in life on the way to financial literacy will determine when you are able to retire or work part time when you feel like and start enjoying life your way. Do not judge me, I enjoy my life. However, I’d enjoy it much more if I didn’t have to get up and work most days.

Front load the necessary sacrifices in life so that you may reap the benefits later…hopefully sooner though. I cannot imagine hitting 55 and still not knowing if any sort of retirement is in sight because I didn’t make the necessary sacrifices in my youth and educate myself properly. I am on the strong road to proper education and am putting down the platform needed to save and spend wisely so I can retire way sooner than normal.

The process is quite simple. Stop spending on items that provide no value or return on investment (ROI). Save most of your income, especially once you get out of debt. Pay in cash. Live modestly. Retire early.

DEBT:

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Debt is the worst thing an individual can put on their selves in life. It will beat you down and keep you there if you let it. It does not matter the size of the debt incurred, debt is all the same. Fact, about 99 % will have to borrow money (loan) at some point in life. House, car, school, business load…whatever, they are all the same. It may be necessary and the only option at the time. That is perfectly fine.

The problem occurs when the debt adds up and continues to climb. Compounding the debt with more and more loans is absolutely terrifying. Why anyone would do that or why is that expected today is beside me. There is a short story/quote that resonates with me regarding debt.

“When purchasing something requires you to change something in your normal life routine, you probably cannot afford it. If purchasing that brand new car requires you take on extra work or sell off some other possessions, you can’t afford it. If buying that new phone forces you to put it on a credit card instead of pay in cash, you can’t afford it. Anytime you sacrifice something else for another thing…or rack up credit, you CAN’T AFFORD IT.”

It may be nearly impossible to live by that quote in some situations (house; college), but if when purchasing a new Iphone forces you pick up an extra shift for two weekends…YOU CANNOT AFFORD IT. Debt continues to compound. Or a the very least your saving account is stagnant because all your money is in possessions or cheap entertainment.

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Debt isn’t all that bad though, considering you just told me everyone has to borrow money at some point in life. Maybe! In my own experience, debt has delayed major life stages and prohibited me from doing some things I really want to. Of course, some of this was do to being financially illiterate in my younger days. My wife and I have delayed having children and purchasing land and going on vacations because we owe debt. Moral of this story is, make sure what you are getting into is worth the money and time it will take to pay it off.

Goal: Get out of debt. Save more MONEY than I SPEND. Pay in CASH for materials and entertainment without changing my daily routine…because I CAN afford it.

INVESTING:

invest-in-yourself

Invest in yourself first. It is the safest way to ensure your own wealth. If you rely on the housing market for disposable income and the stock market to make you a million, you might be waiting a while. Don’t get me wrong, that is surely possible and plenty of people are doing it. My argument is the majority of people will not be so lucky are able to make it that way. If the stock and housing market become flooded, then no one will make it big because every one is playing and winning (what little there would be to win).

The safest be is to invest in yourself. Become a BETTER Y-O-U. Invest in your skills that will help you rise to the top. Invest in the skills that will make you coveted and marketable in the arena of whatever business field you are in. If you are still betting on the stock and housing markets, invest in the knowledge and education that will make you a better player in the market. Acquire the skills needed to that require you to be needed. After all, this is the only investment that you have complete control over. You have complete control over your efforts and attitudes you will put into investing in yourself.

The key is to invest in your own financial literacy. Learn how money works and how to manage it. Then you might find yourself in great shape and set for life well before the typical retirement age.

WRAPPING IT UP:

My goal is get out of the debt my wife and I are currently in. We plan to spend wisely while enjoying ourselves. We plan to sacrifice and say NO to things we really do not need or want. It will not be easy, but I have set a goal for myself. My wife may share the same goal because she loves her job right now (that may change), but I want to retire and be set before the age of 50. I have plenty of time given my current to put in the work now so that I can be free later.

Why? Honestly, there is not a job in the world that I would be happy to wake up each do and do. The simple idea of work and having to do it (even if I am on my own time and schedule) does not sit well with me. There is no true freedom in having to work, even in the slightest degree. Life is too short to work that much.

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