It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, there’s no getting away from the fact that all of us rely on money. It’s the means by which we support all the most important elements of our lives – our homes, food, and ability to prepare for our future retirement. Yet all too often, money is considered a taboo topic in polite society and, as a result, many people are simply lacking in the essential money-management skills that we all need. With this in mind, read on to discover the five things that every one of us should know when it comes to money.
Saving is essential, but consider earnings too
There’s no escaping the fact that it’s vitally important to make saving a habit. Having savings is a great cushion of support for that proverbial rainy day (such as unexpected redundancy or a period of poor health which limits your capacity for working). It’s also vital to save for future retirement, and for those big purchases such as a house. However, ultimately your ability to save will be influenced by your earning power. After all, if you are working for minimum wage, it will be considerably harder for you to put money aside each month than it would be if you were earning £100,000 a year. While the latter salary may not be achievable for most of us, be sure to identify opportunities to invest in yourself and your career, increasing your earning potential, and therefore your saving potential, too.
Understand your spending
To keep control of your money, you must know where and how you spend it. You don’t need to keep track of every transaction (noting down every coffee bought soon gets onerous), but look at the overall picture at the end of each month. Identify the approximate proportions of your income that you are spending across a number of broad categories, such as food, entertainment, transport, bills and savings. This is an easy way to identify if any areas of spending are out of proportion, and should be cut back. You might be surprised by what you find. There are many apps available that make money tracking a breeze, and will help you to gradually adjust your spending patterns if necessary.
Value your money – and your time
Of course your money is important, but you should value your time, too. Undervaluing our time is a common attitudinal mistake that many of us are guilty of. Think of times where you might have waited around queuing for a freebie, or special offer, instead of using that time for more useful pursuits. Ultimately, our time is the most finite possession, so don’t throw it away for a saving of a few pounds here and there.
If you are saving part of your monthly income, and spending your disposable income in a sensible, considered manner, you might start to feel that any frivolous purchase or expense is a bad thing. However, consistently denying yourself things that could simply bring you joy (be it a trip away for a few nights with friends or a new pair of trainers) can lead to feelings of deprivation and gloom. This can eventually lead to losing motivation for money-management or, conversely, snowball into unhealthy penny-pinching habits. It’s therefore important to reward yourself every now and again. Choose something that will bring you genuine pleasure, and savour the experience.
Investment in yourself
Finally, your relationship with money will be influenced the most by your own attitude. Investing in improving yourself is always a smart decision, so pursue opportunities for further education or training. Spend money on your health, both physical and mental, and spend money to give you back your valuable time. After all, the ultimate goal of any savvy approach to money-management is to help you have the best possible life.