As the world continues to recover from the Global Financial Crises, with many people having lost significant income as well as wealth, here are 7 tips of importance in learning how to achieve Financial Freedom. Recovery has been a difficult process and across the world worry about a second, related, financial crisis has many people concerned.
You don’t have to wait for trouble to strike before doing something to protect you and your family. The key is in trying to become financially free. The following 7 tips will give you some ideas that you can use immediately to get some order to your financial chaos – or at least mediocrity.
Tip #1: Habits Matter – Create Good Ones
One of the first things to realize about overcoming entrenched problems is that they didn’t get there by accident. Over a long period of time – possibly years – you may have fallen into bad habits. You likely weren’t even aware that bad habits were overtaking your life.
Bad habits can grow like weeds in your life. Before you realize it you may have a bad habit in almost every area of your life. You stop exercising, eat the wrong food, spend too much time partying, over-spend and stop tracking your budget.
Start good habits now.
Get a good night’s rest so you wake-up with energy and a good, positive attitude for the following day’s work. Eat good wholesome food; plenty of fruit and vegetables and lean meat. Drink a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water per day.
Stop smoking. Reduce alcohol consumption. Stop negative thinking. Learn to focus your thoughts. Practice creative visualization. Meditate. Pray.
Thoughts are powerful. They can create or destroy. If you are in the habit of thinking negatively do something about it because it can impede you from achieving everything you want in life, including your goal to be financially free.
Begin the habit now to track every incoming and outgoing dollar every day. If you don’t respect the honour of having the resources you are entrusted with now, how can you be a good steward of even more resources?
Tip #2: Little Things Matter – Be Aware of the Small Things
Sometimes it is not even the big decisions we mess up. Failing to pay enough attention to the small things that eat into our bottom line is equally as bad. You may be stuck in a habit of buying the things you always buy, when the best approach is to always shop for value.
The family groceries shop is one area that most people can save a ton of money. By all means buy brands if they are the absolute cheapest or the very best value for money. As soon as you realize that brand name shopping comes at a price you will either find the extra to pay for more expensive brands by somehow increasing your income, or if that proves too difficult, you will cut your grocery budget to suit the lifestyle you can actually afford.
The average family spends around $11,000 per year on groceries. With some intelligent choices and discipline it is possible to save each week and give your family a Christmas that’s already paid for thanks to your new clever shopping habits.
It doesn’t hurt to take some pressure off yourself by reducing your living expenses.
Tip #3: Don’t Make Big Decisions Quickly
We all like shiny new toys to show-off to our neighbours, family and friends. It is liberating to have that ‘something’ we have always wanted and felt we never could get. Sales assistants are always so positive about our ability to pay for it too, often reducing payments to a ridiculously small equivalent. For example, they may say, “You can pay for this new television over the next 5 years for less than the price of a cup of coffee each day.”
That kind of statement gets you more excited and on an emotional high. The sales assistant has taken away the guilt by explaining you can afford it. This may be a huge revelation to you since the last time you looked at your budget you were short every quarter for your power bill, but now some genius at an electronics retailer has found you an imaginary source of funds.
It sounds humorous, but it is very true. Once we are emotionally invested in going ahead with a big purchase we have been putting off for a long time it is hard to pull back when we need to. This is especially true when we are encouraged by people who don’t really have our welfare at heart.
Salespeople are so highly trained these days, often being experts in the psychology of how people buy. They know they are more likely to have you sign-up while you are there. If you leave they know there is very little chance of seeing you back. On top of your emotional investment in going ahead salespeople are experts at piling on the pressure to get you to buy. You will hear them say things like, “That price is only available today as they sale ends today,” or, “That price is a one-off!”
This is likely to push you into making a quick decision on-the-spot. That’s the worst kind of decision to make and usually ends-up costing you a whole bundle of cash. Worse than that, you and your family can find yourselves struggling for years because of one quick decision on a big purchase.
Tip #4: Save for Big Ticket Consumer Purchases
Instead of buying a big ticket consumer purchase like a new lounge suite, television, or even a car using credit, save for your purchase instead. Many of you are probably now shaking your head and thinking, “It can’t be done!”
If that’s true can you really afford it? Or, is using credit so embedded into our culture now that to think of buying non-appreciating assets like bedding, furniture, electronic goods and cars using any other type of funding too socially unacceptable.
Think about that! Who is paying for it? You, right? So, if you’re paying for it shouldn’t you be able to do so on terms which are most favourable to you. Those terms would not involve using credit.
The best thing about saving and purchasing, rather than buying now and paying for it out of future earnings that you can’t yet determine, is the great sense of satisfaction when you finally do buy something you have been diligently putting money away for, for a long time. You know you really have earned it!!
If you’re thinking you can’t do this for a car purchase you may be wrong.
The average buying cycle for a car, for example, is approximately 5 years. Saving $100 per week for sixty months (5 years) will give you over $25,000 with which to buy a car. If you placed that into an interest-bearing account before you needed to use it you would be in an even better position.
It is possible to get around needing to use credit.
Tip # 5: Don’t Try and Keep Up with the Jones’s
This is probably the worst way to go out in a financial suicide. You see your neighbour with a brand new car so the Green-Eyed Monster tells you to upgrade your car too. Or maybe you have friends who recently built an extension to their house, so you want to keep up with them and add to your home now too.
Before you embark on something that’s going to really cost you, just stop and think, “Do I really need to be doing this?” Or, ask yourself an even more searching question: “Why am I doing this?” It doesn’t hurt to closely examine your motives for buying things you may not really need.
Jealousy and competitiveness can also often lead us to make irrational decisions. If you really knew the true cost your neighbour pays to have that shiny new object in the driveway, you honestly wouldn’t want it.
I’m not talking just about the cost of buying it, paying it off, servicing it, and registering and insuring it. There other costs we don’t get to see, but are no less real and harmful to people.
For instance, more than 60% of divorces are caused by financial problems. Instead of death do us part, it’s more like until mortgage repossession do us part. This is a tragically real social problem that is getting worse. Too often children are collateral damage to adults who couldn’t show restraint.
Extra pressure on your family budget can lead to quarrels with your spouse. With both of you feeling less secure with the budget pressure of an unnecessary large expenditure with future recurring costs, it is not unusual for couples to feel stressed-out.
If the Jones’s have bought something they can’t really afford be glad you are not them!
Tip #6: Keep Fit and Healthy
Quite apart from tip #1 (habits) this tip for achieving financial freedom goes further.
We are sometimes so busy we don’t even notice our health becoming a problem. As we work harder and harder, giving more time to the office and less to home life and much-needed downtime, we lay the foundations for ill-health.
Failure to get adequate rest can take an enormous toll on the body. Over time this can predispose us to high blood pressure and risk of stroke, diabetes, weight gain, insulin resistance, sleep disorders, memory problems, and bacterial and viral infections. By failing to rest properly you are inviting health problems into your life.
Unexpected health issues have a nasty habit of turning up when you are least able to deal with them. This can really cost you!
Imagine needing to be away from work because you physically can’t work. You lose your pay, your lifestyle, and too often your house and everything else. It happens more often than you think.
The best cure for this situation is prevention. If you pay attention to living healthy and having regular check-ups, you can stay vital and productive throughout your middle and senior years. This can have the best effect on your finances of anything else you can do.
Tip #7: Budget and Track Everything
Now that you have the rest of your life managed, it’s time to turn some attention to money management – or more appropriately, money measurement.
An old saying tells us that “We can’t manage something if we can’t measure it.”
This tip is all about measuring and tracking your finances. EVERY ASPECT.
Approach this well and you will know at any moment where your money is at. You will know with pinpoint accuracy where you are heading. You will discover those things that need changing because they will be staring you in the face.
The best way is to find some software or other tools to help you create and manage your budget. There is a ton of budgeting software out there. The basic criteria it needs to meet to be useful for you is: it must allow you to create a budget; then it should allow you to record EVERY transaction and categorize them; ideally it should have an expenditure tracking capability so you can compare actual expenditure to budgeted expenditure; it should allow you to record and track asset valuations; plus, it will be helpful if it has a net worth calculator and debt reduction planner. Bill scheduling and reminders will also help you.
If you can’t get your hands on something like this is for now it will be just fine if you make a start with your budget by using a spreadsheet. On one tab you could have a cashbook with a running balance showing you where your bank balance is now. Other tabs may track asset values, bill payment schedules, a debt reduction plan, and a comparison table with your actual versus budgeted spending.
A good habit to get into is to file everything appropriately. Many times debt counsellors visit to help people with their goals to get out of debt and better handle their finances only to find people don’t have or can’t find documents. Very often just properly filing and making notes of the correspondence you receive is all you may need to do to be better organized and on top of your finances.
Know when the due date is for every bill you pay and track and record your bill payments. Many businesses charge late fees and penalties. This is one category of expenditure that will never be in your budget, so, will often be a real drag on you meeting your financial goals. Have the attitude that you won’t even give them a chance and be on time with every payment.
Plan to save. Set-up an automatic transfer to a separate bank account you don’t touch for day-to-day items. You may even arrange with your pay officer to send an amount of money each week to a second bank account. Whichever way you choose to do it, make sure you are saving money every pay cycle.
Have goals that drive you to keep your budget performing for you. Often targeting a savings amount is one way to keep you on-target. Net worth targets and debt reduction goals can also enliven what is, for many people, a boring subject.
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7 Tips On How To Achieve Financial Freedom