Money Management

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken over the news outlets, TV channels, and pretty much everything in our everyday lives. There is a lot to be said about the whole pandemic, its effects on the population and particularly the economy, but it’s also brought out a lot in human beings both awfully good and horribly bad. I’ve been fortunate enough to remain working during the pandemic as my occupation is considered essential and for that I’m thankful.

One thing that has come out of this strange time in history is that I’ve saved a tremendous amount of money. I’m no millionaire and I don’t own a Ferrari, but I’ve made substantial leaps financially. The most important of those leaps was reading Dave Ramsey’s book The Complete Guide to Money. What I liked about this book was its ability to discuss complex ideas in a simple, easy-to-understand way that allowed the material to stick. I’ve learned a great deal about budgeting, investing, and being smart with my money. For those who’ve read this book or follow Ramsey’s “Baby Steps,” I’m on step two of seven and plan to be done with that by the end of the year.

My “saving” of money comes from not having the option to blow my money on restaurants constantly like I did before and not going out every other weekend. Instead, I’ve been saving that money, bringing my lunch to work each day, and cooking at home more which has allowed me to make significant contributions to paying off my student loans. Ramsey’s book was the class I absolutely needed but had never received from my twenty years of education. I think every adult needs to read this book and every child should be taught the basics from it. I learned that roughly 78% of people in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck. Can you believe that? Now, put that into perspective given the current pandemic. So many people have been laid off or can’t find work because of all the closed businesses and now they could be missing out on not just one but multiple paychecks! The bills keep coming but the paychecks don’t and because of that hardship, I can now see why getting and staying out of any kind of debt is so important.

I’ve had lots of time to read and while Ramsey’s book did a great deal of teaching me the fundamentals of personal finance, it’s made me want to take more control over what I do with my money entirely, from monthly budgeting to retirement planning. I had a few investment accounts set up but I didn’t know much about them other than someone told me they were a good idea. After researching them, I’m starting to get a grasp on the importance of money management and making your money work for you, not just the other way around. Like many people, I contributed to my employer’s retirement option and didn’t think much more beyond that as I figured I’d leave the hard thinking up to them. After piquing my interest, I’ve begun to look into how to invest in mutual funds and how to best set myself up for life after work. TheBalance.com has been an amazing resource to me as has a personal friend of mine whom I bug for financial advice all the time which I’m sure he’s sick of but I love picking his brain.

Dave Ramsey also has a radio show that’s available on YouTube and Spotify. I’d highly recommend checking it out as people call into the show with their financial questions which usually consist of a quick background of their personal finances, their goals, and the obstacles in their way. Dave typically responds by giving them some tough love for being dumb with their money but is quick to provide quality advice to help them get out of debt and despair and onto a path that will lead them toward a life of plenty. I’ve gotten addicted to the show which, after reading his book, made me want to tackle my debt with gazelle-intensity and get where I want to be: debt-free and at financial peace.

I’ve come to find that many people don’t manage their money because they’ve never been taught how to. Your grandfather and possibly your dad both know how to balance their checkbooks. For people born after 1990, balancing a checkbook is foreign to us because it’s something that we were never taught was important. Our parents may have suggested it to us but rarely taught it to us or didn’t make it applicable to our lives. Now, I still don’t know how to balance a checkbook but along the same line is creating a budget. I’d never created a legitimate budget outside of a high school or college math class and I had done it not with my own money but with some fictitious amount in a simulation that I didn’t feel applied to me because it was something from an accounting textbook. Creating a budget has allowed me to know exactly where my money is going, how much I’m spending, and most importantly how much I’m saving. I was always curious how when I got my full-time job when I was making more money than I ever had in my life up to that point but I still had little cash in the bank. It was baffling to me. But after reading Ramsey’s book, creating my own personal budget, and taking control of my finances, I’ve learned what I must do if I want to be free of financial worry and setting myself up to complete my goals.

Personal finance is the most important class that every person needs to take but few either put into practice what they’ve learned or they’ve never learned it to begin with. I had never learned it until I was 26 years old. This book definitely changed my life and I don’t know where I could’ve ended up without it. I put it in my top 5 of the most important books to read in life. I’d taken business classes in high school and college but none of them, including my finance class, provided me with the material to manage MY money. They all had me look at the books of some corporation, real or fictitious, so I was never all that interested. I was bored to tears and didn’t get as much out of that aspect of my education as I would’ve liked. Once I was required to analyze my own finances, something I had 100% control over, I became enlightened, determined, and focused. Now, I find myself genuinely interested in finance, investing, and money management.

Especially in this time of such hardship and uncertainty, take the time you have to better yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially.

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