According to American financial adviser and author Suze Orman, today’s generation are “YF&B”: young, fabulous, and broke.
They weren’t born broke. But they matured into their working years just as real estate prices shot to an all-time high, starting salaries dropped through the floor, and bank interest rates dipped to a new low.
Given the situation, Orman explains, current financial advice should be very different from advice given years ago. And as we enter a new year, it’s always a good idea to take stock of your personal financial health and assess which practices to continue, begin, or—most importantly—stop. These are the habits that you should learn to break.
Ignoring Your Debt
The best investment anyone can make if they’re planning to start a good financial regimen is to eliminate debt, whether it’s from credit card bills or personal loans. With debt comes interest rates that you need to pay on top of the amount you already owe.
Strive to pay off the full amount every month, not just the minimum, to avoid additional charges. You may not notice it, but all those additional payments add up to a significant chunk of change that could be better used (or saved) elsewhere. The money you’ll save on charges can be used to add to your budget or be the start of an investment.
Not Tracking Your Spending
The first step towards financial competence is knowing how much you’ve been spending and are currently making. And while there’s nothing more boring and mind-numbing than writing down your expenses and tracking your money, it’s absolutely essential.
There is a multitude of free money tracking applications that actually make the process seamless and fun. Try it out for a week and see for yourself. Once you see how you’re spending your money, it’s easier to say no to impulse transactions and be more inclined to save.
Putting off Investing
Ask anyone what their financial goal is, and they’ll most probably say to invest. Ask them when they intend to do it, and you won’t probably receive a concrete answer. But contrary to what many people say, right now is actually the best time to start a sound investment plan, because you want to keep it for as long as possible, and start as early as possible. (Yesterday would have been better – but now’s just as good a time to start.)
You don’t need to wait until you have six figures in your bank account—not even five. There are countless investment options to choose from to suit a variety of budgets. Whether it’s stocks or mutual funds from your bank, or some condos that are for sale in BGC, these investments are available for your consideration.
Saving Less, Spending More
We’ve all heard the golden rule of saving at least 10 percent of your monthly income. But times are changing; that number is now obsolete. With interest rates so low and inflation rates rising, one should save at least 30 percent. But all that will also be for naught if you don’t rein in your spending either.
The goal is to have a positive deficit whereupon assessment—perhaps at the end of the month—after tracking your spending (see ‘Not Tracking Your Spending’ above), you have saved more than you’ve spent (excluding the basic necessities like living expenses, of course).
Impulse Online Shopping
The convenience of shopping and e-commerce apps has, unfortunately, also inconvenienced many people’s wallets in the process. It’s time to reel yourself in. Take away the temptation by deleting those shopping apps on your phone and removing them from your browser bookmarks.
And if you do find yourself browsing, avoid being sucked into the retail vortex by being a more prudent consumer: Is it something you really need or simply want? Can it wait or do you need to have it immediately? Limit your impulse purchases and you’ll find that you’re a lot stronger than you think.