We all have to learn about money. Well, it’s not exactly mandatory but here’s the deal: if you choose not to learn, if you remain money illiterate, then financial freedom will remain a fantasy.
Now, I’m not saying you should devote all your spare time to becoming a money expert (besides, that’s what BuddhaMoney is here for!). But I am saying that once you start educating your self, and developing a certain degree of competence regarding all money related issues, only then will it be possible to minimize or, ideally, eliminate financial stressors. Only then will you be walking the path where debt is a distant memory, savings are abundant, and comfortable retirement is an option.
Millennials get what I’m talking about. Still, this gigantic, diverse, flock numbering 83 million plus (25% of the American population) and near 10 million in Canada (27% of the population) seems to be struggling with money issues more than the past few generations.
Hmmm, could be because they’re smarter than Boomers and Generation X and Y folks.
If they’re smarter, then why do they struggle?
North American Millennials (naturally I’m speaking generally here; when you’re describing a 93m strong group, speaking in general terms is about all you can do) do not worship money or make it a first priority. Unlike their parents and grandparents, they do not seek to make as much money as possible while sacrificing other aspects of life; will not take the big salary and perks if it means working for a ‘values deficient’ organization; and do not view the accumulation of assets as defining success.
Boomers, X’ers and Y’ers, may be saying, ‘uh, what exactly is the problem with this newfangled generation? Why don’t they follow our lead?‘
The thing is, Millennials are wiser than their predecessors. They seek a balanced life, prioritizing relationships and health ahead of money. And they define success holistically: being part of a loving family, reaching personal (i.e., non-money) goals, maintaining physical/psychological wellness, and staying true to one’s faith.
A Balanced Life Flows from:
Knowing that Greed is not a virtue.
Knowing to Spend in Moderation, being neither extravagant nor miserly.
Knowing not to live life on borrowed money; not to succumb to seduction by material things; not to buy what cannot be afforded; and to use credit Wisely.
Knowing to assume a Mortgage only if you may afford payments.
Knowing there is no suffering in having ‘things’ but there is Suffering in our Attachment to things.
Adding Money To The Mix
Full disclosure: I’m part of the X’er bunch. But this doesn’t stop me from being a big fan of Millennials. They seem to share a collective wisdom about living life, an entrepreneurial bent, and bounds of positive energy that bodes well for the future of a society that, presently, is wayyyyy too top heavy, with too much money in too few hands, resulting in social discontent and political upheaval. Case in point: the U.K. exiting the Eurozone and Barnum and Bailey’s ringleader elected president of the U.S.A.
Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest financial institution, released a report in 2015 stating that the world’s richest 1% (0.7% of the global adult population) own 45% of the world’s wealth.
And people with a net worth of less than $10,000 account for a whopping 71% of the global adult population.
Listen BuddhaMoneyLama, we’ve heard it all before; the rich get richer. This isn’t exactly breaking news. And complaining is boring and destructive and it doesn’t help anyone.
Definitely! That’s why we’re moving forward. Not getting stuck on what others have, not complaining, coveting, or carping. But encouraging you to accept what is, then adjust focus to your self. Look at ways in which you can bring more money into the mix. Why? Because money smarts reduces money struggles and contributes to the wisdom of living.
Giving thought and strategic planning to earning, saving, and investing dough is what’s needed if your future entails buying (or renting) a home, creating and nurturing a family, eating well … shoot, even paying the monthly $9.99 to Netflix! (for those of you living off the grid, sure you’ll need fewer greenbacks but you still need some). And for those who want to gain entry to the 1%, well, go for it! With the right approach, big time dough is within reach.
So, ummmm, dealing with the here and now … how do you achieve financial stability, build enough wealth to pay off student debt, support a family, pay for a home, check out of the workforce and fund retirement? Begin by learning more about money.
More is Less
The more you know about managing money, the less stress you experience.
More is More
The more you know about managing money, the more peace you experience.
More is The Real Thing
The more you know about managing money, the more assets to your name, the more you are able to contribute time and/or money to making the world a better place.
Where to Start
1. Make a Budget
Oh, the pain of it! The mind numbing monotony!
Uh huh. Try this on for size: the Road to Financial Independence.
Making a budget is the first step, the foundational step, to taking control of your finances and building wealth. So, for the sake of your financial health, here’s what you do:
- Buy in to the idea that drafting a budget is good for you.
- List all sources of regular income.
- List every regular expense so you know monthly household costs. These are fixed expenses.
- Once you’ve paid for the fixed expenses, list your financial priorities such as paying down debt, contributing to your rainy day fund, retirement account, or other savings or investment account. Then determine what percentage of your monthly earnings, if any, you will allocate to each of these priorities.
The amount remaining (after deducting fixed expenses, and contributions to financial priorities) may go toward ‘discretionary’ expenses. In other word, give yourself permission to indulge, to reward your self for your discipline and commitment.
2. Ignore the Jones
Your worth is NOT equal to what you own.
Contrary to claims from Corporate America, you do NOT need a certain toy to be happy or better or good or worthy or noble or likeable. Nor do you need a certain car, house, clothes, perfume, phone, or any other material thing being peddled to you.
So pay little heed to what things your friends and neighbors have. Block out advertising intended to make you feel emotionally insecure; with the solution to your insecurity being to BUY stuff.
Recognize that desire for material things can be harmful, lead you into debt, deplete savings, raise blood pressure and cause general havoc with your well being.
You want early retirement, financial freedom? Stick to your smart, thoughtful, budget.
3. Develop Champion Saving Habits
Regardless of how much earn, some of your earnings should be going into a savings account. If you’re just starting out, and your income is lower, you still want to contribute something to savings. If that means reducing expenses, then bite the bullet and give up some spending.
And when your earnings increase, don’t make the mistake of increasing spending significantly. Sure, indulge a bit more if you like, but only if you’re sticking to budget AND also increasing savings and investment contributions.
4. Take Control of Your Destiny
Plain and simple, like most parts of life, financial success is up to you (still, know that you’re not alone, that BuddhaMoney will happily walk by your side!).
It’s up to you in the sense that you have the choice as to whether or not to take responsibility. No one is forcing you to spend money on anything other than true needs (um, so sorry but bling and the latest tech gadgets are not needs).
Choose not to spend unwisely, Choose to save and invest … this is you taking responsibility, assuming control of your financial life. This is you realizing that life is an opportunity and you’re in charge of deciding how to deal with this amazing opportunity.
I’m not saying it’s easy to give up spending today for some seemingly mythical retirement many years or decades into the future. But if you can tap into a long-term vision of your life, balance out todays wants with caring for your future self, you’ll experience the joy of feeling (and knowing) you’re in charge of your destiny.
And the thing is, us humans, when we feel like someone else is running the show we call “My Life”, when we operate haphazardly, lacking a certain degree of order and structure, then stress, anxiety and frustration levels all increase.
But when we have some measure of influence over “My Life”, when we make money a priority, bringing it into the holistic mix that defines success, then this in itself empowers us to achieve our goals and realize a sense of inner fulfillment, harmony and success.
For those interested in deepening their knowledge of physical fitness, check out this comprehensive, hugely informative guide to getting in excellent condition, i.e., cardio, strength, flexibility, nutrition and lifestyle:
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