It often seems that the most valuable lessons we learn from our parents and elders come from their unspoken actions. The consistent behaviors and attitudes that permeate their life help shape our early financial framework.
There have definitely been a few nuggets of wisdom I learned from my father. These served me well as I traveled alone, worked for different companies and started a family. To be honest, it wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I really began to understand their impact.
- Do your own research – Everyone wants to sell you something. Everyone wants to get their hand in your pocket. Take time to read the fine print, evaluate your options and get a second opinion.
- Ask yourself: Is this the right option? Is this the right time? Is this the right price point?
- Be financially independent – Regardless of your circumstances, only take on what you can handle. Keep your expenses well within range of what you are capable of paying on your own. That includes taking on loans and using credit cards.
- Ask yourself: Can I pay my bills and still have funds left over? If not, what is my plan to get there?
- Honor your commitments – Pay what you owe when you owe it. If you’re going to fall short, be proactive and reach out to each company as soon as possible to find a solution.
- Ask yourself: Do I pay my bills on time? If not, what are the obstacles? What can I do differently?
- Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up – If you struggle to make ends meet, an emergency or accident could put your plans off course for years or devastate your partner/family. Take the time to purchase insurance to cover the big losses. At the minimum, protect your stuff (renter’s/homeowners and auto) and your final expenses (life insurance).
- Actively track and review your financial accounts – Set up a routine to evaluate on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Compare rates and benefits of your accounts, make necessary changes to get closer to what you want.
Your financial wellbeing is ultimately up to you. Use the same focus and attention as you do on your physical appearance, health and fitness. Unlike your good looks, your finances can actually get better with age. Much better!