Money might not buy happiness, but you need it to operate in the world. We all have different relationships with money: some are good with it, others get by, and some require a lot of help.
Whatever your current relationship with money, there is always room for improvement. Remember: it’s not about how much you have, but about what you do with what you have.
In that spirit, let’s look at seven personal finance tips that will change your money mentality.
1. Understand Credit Card Interest
Credit cards are a double-edged sword. They can be extremely handy and often very necessary, but they carry interest rates that can cause your payments to soar and negatively affect your credit score. One of the most important financial tips, especially for young people, is to understand how credit card interest works.
Firstly, credit cards have some of the highest interest rates around. The rates can be much higher than those associated with personal or other types of loans. For that reason, credit cards are good for making purchases that can be paid off quickly.
Credit card interest can become a monster when your balance owed is very high, especially because it becomes harder to provide any more than the minimum monthly payment. Unfortunately, another problem with credit cards is that only paying the bare minimum every month can negatively affect your credit score.
For those operating on limited budgets, credit cards are best reserved for emergency and urgent payments only. Don’t use all your credit just because you can, and try as hard as possible to pay more than the minimum due as often as possible.
2. Make Saving a Habit
We live in an expensive world, and the more things cost, the harder it is to make ends meet, never mind save money. One fascinating thing about human nature is summed up well in an old saying: “Out of sight, out of mind.”
In other words, the key to creating a money-saving habit is to automatically put some money aside every month. It doesn’t have to be a lot – whatever you can afford. Ideally, it should be an automatic debit order that puts the money aside every month so that you don’t even see it.
Another advanced saving trick is to place it directly into a fixed deposit account that you can’t access instantly.
You may be surprised how quickly you can adjust to a smaller budget, finding ways to save on unnecessary expenditures. Sound too good to be true? Try it for six months, and you may find that your saving concerns are out of sight and out of mind.
3. Learn to Budget
Budgeting is one of the most important financial skills to learn and master throughout your life. Create your budget in an actual document to stay organized and on track: Excel is excellent for this, but there are many financial software options.
Secondly, your budget should separate wants and needs, a differentiation that forms the basis for financial discipline. Of course, the obvious needs are a roof over your head, food, utilities, transportation, and financial obligations.
Your wants are a whole different ball game: these include all the non-essential things that make life a little better. Nobody says you need to live without simple pleasures like dinners with friends, but you need to decipher between wants and needs and indicate them separately on your budget.
4. Harness The Strength of Compound Interest
Compound interest is essentially earning interest on your interest. When you save money, you earn interest. If you allow that interest to accumulate, you earn a compounded interest on the interest, which exponentially grows your investment.
The power of compound interest is something everyone can harness, no matter how little you’re able to save each month. Once you understand how it works and use discipline, you’ll reap the benefits in the future.
Remember that you don’t have to start big: save what you can and ensure that your dollars are going into a high-yielding investment that forces you to leave it alone for fixed periods. Then, once you start earning more, add even more to the pot each paycheck, and soon compounding interest will begin working its magic.
5. Use Credit To Your Advantage
You’ll often hear people tell you to avoid credit – that it’s a trap. While credit requires discipline and savvy, having appropriately managed credit may make better financial sense than not having it at all.
Firstly, you need to build a strong credit profile and a high credit score by taking on credit and paying it off quickly. The more credit you take out, and the quicker you pay it back, the stronger your credit score will be.
A strong credit score means you can invest in property, have enough for emergency purchases, and most importantly, receive a much lower interest rate on loans and other forms of credit.
6. Invest in the Stock Market
Many people are afraid of the stock market; it seems like a complex and risky world only navigable by professional traders. This simply isn’t true.
If you have a pension fund, 401K, or any other savings policy, your money is already growing from stock market investments, so most of you are already involved. As such, the stock market makes the financial world turn, and you can earn a great return by investing wisely.
You can achieve this by educating yourself and finding your feet with just a little bit of money. You can also work with an investment firm that will walk you through the process and help you pick the most productive stocks to include in your portfolio. You can choose your risk levels and the amounts you want to invest, making your entry into the space relatively certain.
7. Create a Side Hustle
Last but certainly not least, one of the best ways to improve your finances and grow as a person at the same time is to create a side hustle. Most of us have a 9-5 or a regular gig that pays the bills. But as the cost of living soars, we could all do with a bit of extra cash.
Starting your own little business, learning a new skill, or using your existing skills to earn extra money are all great ways to pump some extra cash into your budget. But, remember, first use any extra income to pay off debt and then reinvest into your side hustle to grow and expand your opportunities.
You don’t have to incorporate all seven personal finance tips at once. Even starting small is a good way to improve your personal finance and develop a positive and prosperous money mentality. There’s no better time than the present to start improving your relationship with money.