I’m a big believer in putting something away for a rainy day, but there’s more to planning for future financial needs than just having a well-funded emergency fund. In addition to your typical shtick about having 3-months’ salary in a piggy bank somewhere, I’ve found the following bits of advice to be valuable, as well. (All of them require action today in order to cash in later, though.)
1. Plant a tree
Trees are good for so many things. You can hang a tire to swing on, or watch beautiful birds build their nests in them. As far as a great financial move, however, trees help cut energy costs with their shade-bearing ways and are effective against soil erosion. They can increase the value of your property and can provide a more natural privacy option than expensive fencing. Pick a fruit-bearing variety, and you could even see a dent in your food bill within 2-6 years. But be sure to plant now, as they take years to reach maturity.
2. Quit that nasty habit
While we are all guilty of having negative routines, some of our vices are sucking us dry, both in health lost and money spent. If you kick it to the curb today, however, it is possible to see some of the negative effects of addictions wane over time; losing that extra weight or quitting your pack-a-day fix can shave thousands of dollars off future medical bills and add years to your life. So what are you waiting for? Doing it now only ensures that the total saved over a lifetime could be substantial!
3. Teach them well.
They are only kids once. Be sure that the info you give them is accurate and useful to help them to be financially literate adults. Not only will your children have happier lives if they know how to manage their money as grown-ups, you won’t be suckered into co-signing for loans or bailing them out when times get tough. Teach your kids sound money principles now to avoid big money headaches later. (Even as teens, there is still time for them to learn.)
4. Stock Your Toolbox
Not having the right gear for a job can be budget-breaking. The same can be said for not having the right life skills to take care of your everyday belongings. By becoming a self-educated individual in the arts of changing your own oil, unclogging the drain, or even replacing a window, you can gain the satisfaction of having done something for yourself (not to mention avoiding a massive bill from an “expert”.) As we age, it can take longer to acquire these new skills. Pick one a week or so, and expand your knowledge to be able to do expensive tasks for yourself in the coming years. You can even use your new talents to bless those around you.
5. Start a business
I’m not talking about quitting your job and establishing a company with 10 employees, but I am suggesting that you embrace your entrepreneurial spirit (which we all have) and give something you’ve always wanted to try a shot. In 2007, I was bit with the writer’s bug, and ever since then, I’ve committed just a bit more time to polishing my skills, networking, and promotion. I’m glad I took that first step, because I’m now earning a full-time income, free of the difficulties of an hour-long commute and no longer suffering from inflexible work schedules.
Whether you can create, teach, resell, or freelance in your current industry, there is something you could spend just 5 hours a month on to build a business for the future. You may never need to call on it for a full-time income, but you just may find that it inspires a passion for something you’ve dreamed of doing, or can help diversify your income in hard times. (And who knows? It may be the start of something truly successful!)
Beyond the standard personal finance advice, are there things you are doing today to help keep your fiscally sound down the road?