So, you’ve organized your closet. And your basement storage area. Maybe even your pantry. Is it time to organize your finances?
The idea for getting ahead is simple, really: Spend less. Save more. Decide what your priorities are.
You know who shops at thrift stores? Everyone. It’s not just people down on their luck, looking for a bargain. Wealthy people shop at thrift stores, too. They know that if they spend $5 on a pair of jeans that originally cost $125, they’re getting the same pair of jeans and leaving $120 in the bank to appreciate.
My kids wear mostly hand-me-down and thrift-shop clothes. They have since they were babies. Sure, I occasionally pop into Kohl’s for a button-down shirt or hop on Amazon for some new underwear or socks. But the athletic pants and t-shirts? Those are second-hand.
Same with phones and cars and other big-ticket items. Do you need brand-new and high-end? According to a recent study, 61 percent of people making more than $250,000 annually drive Fords, Toyotas and Hondas. Many got wealthy by being thrifty; old habits die hard.
Speaking of cars, I was talking to a financial advisor friend just today. She said she had chatted not long ago with a 19-year-old who was living at home, working and trying to save money to move out on her own.
She works about 20 hours a week, bringing in about $900 per month. Her car payment is $600. My friend asked what she did with the rest of her earnings. She said she shops on Amazon.
She’s not going to get out of her parents’ house quickly at that rate.
To get ahead, she needs to save more. Sometimes, it’s not easy or fun. She might need to sell her car and buy one that’s less expensive. Or work more hours. Or not shop on Amazon during her off hours.
Hers is a stark example, but we all face decisions like this every day, right? Going out to eat. Shopping online. Buying big-ticket items that we technically could wait on.
Everyone has different priorities. Some people travel. Others are movie aficionados or foodies who love to eat out. Yet others enjoy entertaining at their homes.
Usually one of these things on its own isn’t much of a problem. But trying to do all of these things will drain a bank account quickly. It’s all a matter of choices. What is most important to you right now? Can you live with the dead pixels in your television screen for awhile in exchange for a weeklong camping trip?
Decide what your priorities are and create a budget that will help you accomplish them – one at a time.
The goal here is to organize your money in a way that doesn’t just keep you out of trouble, but actually allows you to put money in the bank or in an investment account to grow. The earlier you start, the easier it is, but it’s never too late!
I’m not a financial advisor, but I’ve done well over the years at saving, and it had little to do with how much I was earning. Even when I was earning minimum wage, I was putting away a chunk of it. I was investing in my future and now that I’m in my 50s, I’m saying a big thanks to my younger self.