5 Ideas to Improve your Financial Health

Here are five random ideas to improve your money health. There’s no time like the present to make sure you’ve got some of the basics down.

I really enjoy meeting with people and discussing their money situation. Everyone has different stories, different backgrounds, different personalities and different goals. And what might work for some may not work for others, so it really tests my creativity and knowledge to make sure my clients achieve their short and long term objectives – regardless of what they are trying to accomplish.

Today I want to share some random and unrelated ideas that may improve your money health. You will have heard about some of these before, but others may be new to you.

1. Pay yourself first
A phrase coined by many before me, but one that rings true for millions. The concept is one where a portion of your income is saved for your future. Because you don’t miss what you never see, if the money comes right out of your chequing account automatically on pay day the dollars will grow painlessly. This is a great way to save for your retirement, your next car or your next vacation and yes, even your home – because a mortgage is also a form of paying yourself first.

2. Buy things with cash saved
There is nothing better than paying for things with money saved (see #1). On the other hand, there is nothing worse than paying for things on credit without a plan to pay them off. It’s hard to enjoy the memories of a vacation that you’ll be paying for over several months or years. Arriving home from a vacation without a bill waiting for you helps the good memories last longer. Saving cash for purchases also ensures you can afford the things you buy, another way to know you are living below your means.

3. Get rid of debt – as fast as you can
Members of the Forbes 500 list was asked recently “What is the most important thing you did to generate your wealth?” The answer by 75% of them was this: “Eliminate debt as fast as possible.” Not surprisingly, those who earn interest are far better off than those who pay interest. Some may choose to disagree with this, as a lot of money can be made using leverage (investing other people’s money). However, if you think about it, it’s debt and unexpected negative events that force people into bankruptcy, not a hefty savings account.

4. Teach your children about money
Our personal legacies are what we leave behind – memories, things we stand for and perhaps some financial gifts. If you teach your children what money can do when managed well, what money can do for others, and the power of compound interest your personal legacy will extend to the next generation. If you believe financial literacy is important, don’t wait for the schools to develop curriculum. Talk to your children about giving, saving and spending; teach them about advertising; warn them about salespeople; let them make mistakes with their money. Developing healthy money habits in them will pay dividends for decades and give them a leg up as they begin their working lives.

5. Don’t forget to give
One of the best things about money is what it can do for others. If you believe the old adage ‘Giving is better than receiving’, than try to give ‘off the top’ before the month begins. If you wait until the end of the month, there may be nothing left. There are thousands of wonderful charities – all of which rely to some degree on public support. There are places of worship that need the support of their congregants. There are organizations of all kinds that don’t survive without the generosity of the public, so think about what means something to you and plan on giving regularly. No one regrets a generous act.

I’ll continue with five more ideas next time.

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