Be Money Smart

Financial peace can go a long ways towards finding our everyday happiness. The stress of money and financial issues can weigh us down and control our emotions.

The solution is not simply to have more money. Many a rich person has died penniless. Joe Louis had a 12-year reign as heavyweight champion of the world and earned more than $4.6 million (about $80 million in today’s money) in the 1930s and 1940s. He died broke. Stu Ungar won the World Series of Poker three times and earned more than $30 million during his poker career. He died with no assets to his name.

As Puff Daddy once sang, “Mo Money, Mo Problems”.

The key to financial independence is planning. Regardless of your current money status there are small gestures you can make to ease your financial burden:

Get a $1,000 emergency fund immediately — within 30 days. This is taken directly from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace and it is important. Need some ideas how to get that $1,000. I sold some furniture on craigslist. I had a garage sale. I sold a few items on eBay. It took a little more than 30 days, but I got there.

Plan ahead for Christmas. How much do you want to spend for Christmas this year? How about setting a limit of $500. There are 51 weeks from the the start of the year to Christmas Week. Set a goal to put $10 in box every week from the first of the year to the week before Christmas. That’s $500. If you miss a week or two, don’t fret. Whatever you have at the end of the year is what you can spend on Christmas. You will pay cash for any gifts you purchase, and you won’t feel the pinch on your credit card or paycheck.

A $5 bill here and there. The money saving tip I am using newly this year is the $5 bill. I have an empty cigar box in which I toss every $5 bill I get. If I break a $20 and get a fiver in change, the $5 bill goes in the box. This will motivate you to pay a little more often with cash instead of plastic. You will start craving getting those $5 bills to toss in the box. After six, 12 or 18 months, use the money to make your life a little easier by paying down a debt or taking care of a bill in cash.

Speaking of cash. Cash is king. Use it when you can instead of credit cards. If you can’t afford to buy something with the cash you have on you it may not be a necessity.

Be generous. This may seem to contradict all of the previous advice, but this point is the most important. Generosity is rewarded by karma, by the universe.

Be frugal with your money, but also be generous. Enjoy your life.

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