The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.
“I should’ve consumed more water last night. I feel horrible today.” — most of us at some point in college after a wild night
There’s also a more respectable way to put this:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Popular Chinese Proverb
What I’m getting to is that the best time to do the right thing was always in the past. The second best time is now. I want you to start today so that your future self will thank you for the moves that you made.
There are a few financial moves that you can make today that will save you tomorrow.
There are many aspects to personal finance. There will be times where we have to focus on making more money. Then there will be times where we have to get aggressive with our debt. The goal post will always be moving.
Today we’re going to look at financial moves that you can make today to save you big money in the future when you’re first starting out with money management.
What are financial moves that you should make today to prepare yourself for the future?
Always put aside money for a rainy day.
“What’s the point of saving all of this money?”
I asked my cousin this when I was 15 because I couldn’t believe that he was so focused on saving money. He didn’t want to spend a penny. He just wanted to save and save. This was mind-boggling to me at this point in my life. I only wanted to make money so that I could spend it. I couldn’t see the logic in actually holding on to your money when there’s so much that you could buy out there.
Then he informed me that it was always good to save money for a rainy day. He was saving money just in case. He figured that the good times wouldn’t last forever. He wanted to save up for the future. I couldn’t fathom this until I got older.
Unfortunately, a rainy day can happen when you least expect it to. You’re on a roll and suddenly life hits you hard.
What are examples of a rainy day?
- Your car breaks down.
- You get hit with a medical bill.
- You lose your job.
- You break up with your partner and have to move out.
- Your laptop gets damaged and you have to replace it.
- Your phone eventually dies on you and you’re not eligible for a free upgrade.
- Your pet gets sick and needs surgery.
Regarding that last point, I was dating someone once and she almost had her cat pass away in front of her. She rushed the cat to the vet and a life-saving surgery was required. The surgery would cost $1,600 and she didn’t have this money. That’s a lot of money to have to come up with unexpectedly. She had to scramble to get the money together.
As we’ve all learned lately, life can throw a curveball at you. How you react to the obstacle is often more important than the actual obstacle. I want you to be prepared financially.
What could go wrong with a “rainy day” situation when it comes to your finances?
- You have to use your credit card to cover this expense. Your credit card balance along with the interest will feel like it’s never going to go away.
- You have to borrow money from friends and family, which will put you into debt.
- You have to deal with falling behind on bills.
- You panic and make poor decisions in the short-term. This is how people get caught up in schemes
Once you fall behind, it can feel almost impossible to catch up. This is why many financial experts suggest that you save up to 3 months worth of expenses in an emergency fund.
When something happens, you may be without an income for a long time. This year has taught has that you can have a rainy year.
How do you save up for a rainy day or for any emergency situation?
- Create a new account or a sub-account where you transfer money into.
- Don’t touch this money unless it’s an absolute emergency. It’s on you to determine what qualifies as an emergency and what’s just a want.
- Fund this account from every paycheck. Put money aside. Your future self will thank you for this.
- Save any “extra” money. There will be times where you may find money (tax refund, winning a bet, or you get an unexpected bonus at work). Take a few bucks for fun and try to save the rest.
Believe me, I would’ve laughed at you if you told me to save for a rainy day when I was having some of the best financial years. I can assure you that the good times don’t always last. I wish that they would; that life was always getting better. Unfortunately, things happen and we experience setbacks when we least expect them.
I’ve been hit with random expenses like an unexpected tax bill, vehicle damage, and a broken laptop. It always burns to have to spend money. It eases your mind a little bit to know that you’re not going into debt for this situation.
Get the right insurance on your side.
“I don’t need insurance. I’m just renting.”
I can’t believe that I’m going to do this, but I’m here to sell you on property insurance and the idea of insurance.
What kind of insurance do you need?
- Property insurance. It doesn’t matter if you own or rent, you need to protect yourself and your belongings.
- Auto insurance. One auto collision could set you back thousands of dollars.
- Life insurance. It’s never too early to start thinking about life insurance and planning for the unexpected.
I don’t want to be the old guy lecturing you about home insurance. When your place floods, you have no choice but to feel morally obligated to write about this.
Why do you need insurance?
You never know when something can happen to you, your personal belongings, or your home. Nobody wants their place to get damaged or burglarized, but life happens. Property insurance could bail you out and cover the damages that occur from something out of your control.
For example, my rental property was flooded and damaged through no fault of my own. The condo corporation was doing work on the unit above and one little leak almost ruined the entire condo. The sewage water went everywhere and the place had to be gutted.
You’re probably getting annoyed with me at this point, but I’m also going to show you how to save money here on this expense.
How do you save money on insurance?
- Shop around for quotes. You don’t have to go with the first insurance company that you find.
- Customize your quotes. You can customize every aspect of insurance so that it suits your lifestyle and budget.
- Bundle your policies. You can simplify your life by bundling your insurance policies.
Let’s look at the last option for money moves that you should be making today.
Investing in yourself.
They say that the best investment will be in yourself. I can’t argue with this. Every investment that you make in yourself could help you become a better person in the future. Your goal should be to always upgrade your skills. The more that you learn, the more that you earn.
How do you invest in yourself?
- Upgrade your skills. Can you take a certificate or course? Can you learn a new skill? Would your employer pay for a new type of training?
- Read more books. The easiest win in this area is to spend $20 on a book and to learn about a new topic.
- Take successful people out for lunch. Do you know anyone who’s doing what you want to do? Offer to take them out for coffee or lunch. Ask them out and listen. Do your homework on that person. Learn from them.
What if you don’t have that much money to invest in yourself?
It’s okay. Start with what you have. Most of us are regular people who are just trying to figure things out as we go.
There are many free options for investing in yourself. If you have any free time, you can use this to learn something new.
Here are a few examples of how to invest in yourself when you don’t have that much money:
- Learn a new skill on YouTube. I’ve used this platform for cooking and language lessons. You can pretty much learn anything on YouTube these days.
- Take advantage of free courses. Many colleges have offered free courses since the start of the pandemic.
- Borrow books. I’ll say this again. Everything has been documented. You don’t have to guess. It’s all mapped out for us now.
For the record, I’m not suggesting you have to work 24/7. I’m just giving ideas for how to make the most of your free time so that you can work on improving your situation.
Those are 3 financial moves that will help you prepare for tomorrow. Believe me, I know that we all want instant results. I’m as impatient as they come. Here’s the thing though, the time will pass regardless. You might as well be doing things that your future self will thank you for.