I have always felt that how a person manages their finances is a good reflection of their overall life. People who are successful with their money always seem to look for ways to improve everything they do. People who are good at managing their personal finances share a few common traits. Those traits are not the ability to demand an above average market salary, have an above average IQ, or have graduated from a top-20 university. The traits that are required to be wildly successful with your personal finances can easily be looked over.
Tuning Out The Noise
There are ads everywhere. Marketers use TV, radio, print, and digital to push their products and services to the world. People who are in good financial shape are masters of tuning all of that noise out. They can delay gratification. They are conditioned to identify all ads as spam. People who are struggling with their finances always seem to fall into the must-have-it trap. Most people who are doing well financially do not even notice the noise.
They know that spending money on things that are marketed to provide happiness is a lie. The short-term high of buying new stuff wears off quickly. They see the live life for today crowd as being short-sighted. Tomorrow might never come, but if it does, it is better to have the resources to support oneself.
People who are good at managing their personal finances are organized. Obviously, they are good at managing their bank account, paying bills on time, and keeping up with their investments. They are neat, structured, punctual, and live a more orderly life. If someone looks like a wreck, odds are, so do their finances. Sure, there is always the eccentric millionaire, but they tend to exist more in fiction than in reality. People who are organized financially tend to carry that virtue into all of their affairs.
The people who are good at managing their personal finances have diverse interests. They do not waste their time shopping and buying stuff they do not need. When they do spend money, it is about buying quality products or meaningful experiences. They understand the concept of spending a little more for a quality product than spending less on an inferior product that will wear out and have to be replaced. They have developed the knack for when it is the time to be cheap and when it is the time to be frugal.
Sure, people who are getting ahead in this world know how to read financial statements, but they are analytical in everything they do. People who are good at managing their personal finances are intentional. They do not rush to decisions or fly by the seat of their pants. They think before they act. Being analytical does not require the use of advanced statics. Don’t fall victim to analysis paralysis. A simple practice that anyone can apply is to make a pro and con list when it comes to making a financial decision. If the pros outweigh the cons, move forward. If the cons outweigh the pros, hold tight.
There will be many ups and downs in life that can lead people to make poor financial decisions. The focus always needs to be on the big picture. While money is extremely important because it is our life’s energy, it truly is just currency. Most people have many responsibilities in their lives. Health, family, community, and other areas of life are equally important. Yes, we hear about the workaholic who has poor health and family issues. Most of the people who I have met in the financial independence community are masters at living a balanced life. By having a balance in their life they are in harmony with the universe.
I have had sit-down discussions with many people who are in the financial independence community. Some have their own blog and others just participate by being active on different financial forums. While they all come from different backgrounds, they all seem to generally get it. They better understand life, know that money cannot buy happiness, yet understand that many wonderful things come to pass for those who reach financial independence. Their general understanding is that money equals freedom and freedom equals happiness.
This group has broken the chains that bind most people to their poor habits and financial woes. They do not use leverage as a get rich quick scheme nor are they fearful of debt. Their debt ratios are healthy. They also know how to use debt in ways that can be extremely lucrative like credit card churning.
Everyone is on his or her own journey toward financial independence. A person might be fresh out of college and ready to start a rewarding career where they have to manage their own personal finances for the first time. Someone might be at mid-career where they are entering their high earning years and are trying to ramp up savings. Another person might be near retirement or already retired and has to manage their personal finances during the drawdown period.
No matter where you are in life or what your financial situation looks like, always strive to get better. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, or participate in constructive forum topics. Learn from what others have to offer. Create a blog and share how your own struggles were turned into victories. By being active, I learn new ways to increase savings, pay down debt, and to improve earnings almost every day.
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