Other than those days surrounding the holidays, the parking lot of the plaza close by spent most days the last few months being empty. That’s why it was so surprising when I saw people and cars everywhere when I went there last Sunday. It’s only been one day (especially since this is the weekend until the real work week of the year begins) but I’m not sure if I want this to become a trend.
Our economy probably needs us to shop irresponsibly again, but the thought that we might be back to “living beyond our means” is scary. I never understood why, but America is one of the only developed countries where the average resident consumes more than his/her income.
Some people blame the educational system for not having personal finance classes, but there are ways to learn outside of school too. It’s not like my teacher taught me how to use the toilet. I don’t know about you, but I learned because:
- I had to (out of necessity) and was told about this fact
- It never occurred to me that there was an alternative
- I did it enough times so I could do it without thinking
Maybe why I save while most people don’t is simple. I thought I had to save, I didn’t think borrowing was a lasting alternative and once I got used to saving, I just didn’t think about it anymore.
Toilet Training (Personal Finance Style)
If you need to toilet train yourself again, here are some tips that expands from what I talked about above:
The Need to Save Money
In case you are lucky enough to not know the importance of saving money, let this post be the wake up call. You need to save for your own sake. Can you imagine what will happen if you lose your job and can’t find work for 6 months? How will you pay for your rent/mortgage? Do you know what it’s like to live in your car (assuming you own it outright)? Do you know how cold it gets at night if you live off the streets?
Stop Getting Further Into Debt
It’s so strange that so many people just borrow, borrow and borrow. It didn’t matter where either, be it credit cards, home equity line of credit, 401k or others, people just keep taking out money they don’t have. I just don’t get it, but why does it seem like rocket science to buy something only if you have the means?
Do you really need that car, the TV, or even that new pair of shoes? What happened to what you already have?
Knowing What to Do with Money
Without getting into details (this is a family blog after all), you know what to do when you need to go. Money is exactly the same way. Once it becomes second nature to save, you just do it. You don’t think, you don’t regret and you certainly don’t ask why you save.
Getting started is always harder though, so here are some common tips that always works:
- Save up all income/windfall you receive as soon as it gets into your bank accounts
- Treat your savings like a high security vault that requires maximum clearance before you ever withdraw
- And best of all, lay out a logical plan (if you want, consulting with someone else could work too) so you can just follow it.
At first, you might not be perfect but with practice, everyone can become an expert.
Hey, no one is toilet trained when they are born.