Personal finance is one of the most difficult things in life. It’s a life long undertaking that involves the management of finances for the improvement of your life. Improvement in personal financial management improves your entire life. Those who have done well in changing their financial fortunes will cite increased options, reduced stress and even peace of mind as outcomes. Personal financial management is not a walk in the park and there are skills you can learn and cultivate to make the journey easier.
You are where you are because of what you know. If you want to go somewhere else, somewhere further you will need new information. You will need to commit to continuous learning to improve your personal finances. There are many ways to commit to continuous learning in the areas of personal finances. This includes books, videos, blogs, podcasts and so much more material. Which is the best? All of them. To get continuous learning right, its best to set your focus on how often you learn new things. For example, if you’re learning something new about finances once a year you should aim to do so more often than that. Applying what you learn is just as, if not more important than learning it.
One of the mistakes I see that hamstrings people a lot when it comes to personal finance is not knowing all the options available. This usually comes as a lack of research. Research is simply the act of asking the right questions and not asking the right questions gives you answers that don’t matter. In many cases, alternatives or options will be dismissed before they are researched. How do you dismiss the option without having complete information on it? Learn to research fully and to research all options, you may find some pleasant surprises.
Research is one thing and shopping is another. This involves finding and negotiating the best deals. One thing you will learn is that things are negotiable even when they seem not to be. I’m not encouraging you to haggle for the price of every single item. Rather learn to look for good deals. One practical way to do this is to learn to delay the purchase and check alternatives while you do so. We’ve all had that moment where we buy something and a week later see it either at a better price or in a better deal. You cannot prevent this entirely but shopping is going to help make this a less frequent occurrence.
I already talked about reading books under continuous learning but there is more to personal finance than reading books. One thing you should definitely learn to read is the fine print. The devil is in the details as they say and when you sign up for anything whether hire purchase, insurance or investment product you should both read and understand the fine print. Couple that with the ability to read between the lines as well. It’s commonplace for you not to have all the information about something at the start. The ability to hear what’s not being said can save you from major financial errors.
I’ve saved the best for last. Discipline is the underlying personal finance skill that guarantees all the other skills are put to use effectively. Personal financial management is not something you do once a month or once a week. It’s an everyday thing. The choices that lead to good personal financial management are made daily. Just as those that lead to poor financial management. Making decisions is easy, living up to those decisions consistently is not as easy a task.
All these considered personal financial management is a journey, not a destination. It’s hard to believe you will ever get to a point where you cannot improve any further. These skills are all about helping you to improve your personal financial management.