Saving the pennies: Smart ways to plan for your financial future

“People suddenly know how to use money when there is none left.”   Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

People say a fool with money is one big endless party till the cash runs out, unless you are El Chapo, the Mexican drug king. But while planning for your future, financially, may sound ridiculous in your 20’s and 30’s, as the years go by, responsibilities and lifestyle habits set in and become harder to break when you really need to. Soon enough, you find out that school fees and pampers are like vacations and weddings, in the sense that they are never on discount.

Currently, it is safe to say that economies across the world are in turmoil. Consumption from China has slowed down and commodity prices are at an all-time low, while emerging economies are finding it difficult to cope. The global economic downturn is leading old enemies to re-establish diplomatic relations and America and Cuba’s renewed friendship is a great example of this, demonstrating that economic uncertainty is the only thing that will be certain.

With this in mind, we are reminded to plan for the winter in the summer as summer is usually the best time of your life. However it will be wise not to let winter catch you off guard.

How do we plan for financial winter?

Always follow the money: Do you know where your money is going? Trickling outflows deplete the purse quickly and suddenly. Ponder about it for a moment; you think more when big sums are involved but forget that the occasional 10k here and there amounts to a tidy sum.

In order to follow the money; have a plan. Plan as much as you can, even your generosity, because a plan mitigates emergencies and impulse spending. Don’t bother with sophisticated software, try using a simple spread-sheet. Create a plan. Execute it. Keep your commitments to your commitments and watch it become a habit.

“If money management isn’t something you enjoy, consider my perspective. I look at managing my money as if it were a part-time job. The time you spend monitoring your finances will pay off. You can make real money by cutting expenses and earning more interest on savings and investments. I’d challenge you to find a part-time job where you could potentially earn as much money for just an hour or two of your time.”  Laura D. Adams, Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Deal with Your Debt

Let the Jones be: Basically, this means you should pay attention to your life alone and live it on your own terms. The ‘legendary philosopher,’ Will Smith also known as the Fresh Prince of Belair once said, “Too many people are buying things they can’t afford, with money that they don’t have; to impress people that they don’t like.” It will be wise to desperately avoid catching that bug.

Invest in the economy: There is never a good time to invest but you have to. Buying assets brings passive income and having multiple streams of income is never a bad idea. Money is always part bread, to be eaten, and part seed, to be sown. Learn the difference and ensure that you are not eating the seed as well as the bread. Plant it, tend to it and watch it grow. Also learn that there will be tough times ahead but it pays off in the end if you stick to it. Gather the wisdom that will allow you tend to your investment properly.

Invest in yourself: Invest in acquiring a skill that you can commercialise. In today’s knowledge-driven economy, you can pick up almost any skill with Youtube videos as your guide, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be one that ends with an official qualification of certificate. Most of the time you find that it is most likely in an area you are passionate about and nobody can take this away from you. Remember that it is your skill to hone and you decide what to do with it.

Be liberal; even to yourself: Always plan to take care of yourself as you are your biggest asset. Save enough to allow you see the world, experience life, fulfil a childhood dream and sleep in the popular luxury hotel, the Waldorf Astoria. Gather experiences and try very hard not to be a Hetty Green. She was a multimillionaire who wouldn’t pay rent and would rather sit outside to conduct her daily business. She is the universal SI unit of being miserly.

Save the pennies and make it habitual so when the headwinds come, you will not be swept away.

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