No one likes talking about money – especially bachelors who are running low. Awareness, however, is a key component to claiming your happiness and working toward your personal definition of success. With that in mind we turned to personal finance expert and founder of Money School with Jane, Jane Hwangbo, who promises that by following her tips we can all go light speed down the road to money maturity.
Here’s a look at her seven kernels of financial wisdom.
1. Define your goal
What are you saving and organizing your money for? We live in a consumer-driven society, so we’ve learned to define ourselves by the brands we own. But any Jedi will tell you that you’ve got it backwards because until you’ve decided what your unique awesomeness will be, creating a personal financial map is a futile exercise. Get a life goal, and THEN use money management as a tool to achieve it.
2. Evaluate your current financial state
Commit to being aware of what you’re doing with your money. Set an alert to open your credit card and bank accounts every week (same time, same place) and see what’s really going on, no matter how brutal the pain. In return, you’ll gain a new level of understanding of real vs. you-wish financial status, and where you need to go.
3. Measure your money
In order to stay afloat, we have to pay for fixed expenses (e.g. rent, utilities, or car payments). Use tools such as an Excel spreadsheet or a free finance app (Google “free finance apps”) to add and measure all of your funds in one place. Once you see your comprehensive picture, you’ll notice which categories of expenses you’re regularly bombing every month. If your spending is measured, it can be improved.
4. Map out your route to reach your financial goal
Now that you have a Point A, your current financial status, and a Point B, your future financial status, you can determine the best route. What does your overall financial plan look like? Is the route something you can go alone, or will you need the help of someone who is more financially trained?
5. Understand financial risk
Life is a trade-off, and so are your decisions in personal finance. If your friends are telling you about a no-miss investment, be wise enough to know that there’s no such thing. An expensive four-year college is not a prerequisite for making it in life, and no 401(k) account is guaranteed to make you wealthy. The only sure things in life are death and taxes.
6. Avoid “Keeping Up with the Joneses”
It’s a false promise of success. No matter how much money you make, you may be surprised to find that it’s still not good enough for the rank and file of the Imperial Senate. The only person who can validate who you are and your worth is you.
7. Get out of your comfort zone
Expect uncomfortable moments. The most successful people push themselves through challenging times to reduce uncertainty. Most stress comes from uncertainty, and everything begins to feel easier once you’ve spotted the specific roadblocks.