We are heading into month four of the new year and more often than naught, our New Year’s resolutions are falling by the way side. In our ongoing series, being a Dapper Gent, we have examined everything from sleep to hydration. However, now we are moving towards the really hard work, the real you. As a man and a dapper gentleman, I must ask a question about your health. Are you financially fit? If you’re like three out of four people, the answer is, “No.”
If you have already filed your income taxes, like many, upon receiving the small windfall you used it to buy something frivolous, and little if any, was placed in savings. If this is the case, then financially, you are unhealthy and you need to look at ways to become financially fit. It is possible to make real headway toward financial security in just a few weeks. Here’s how:
- First: Make concrete goals. Financial planner Tom Corley says a lot of us have vague goals like “I should save more.” But if you make it real, like “I’ll save $100 a week.” Then you can have $100 taken out of your checking and put into your savings automatically.
And that’s better than randomly cutting back because the $20 you save by not going out to dinner may turn into $20 you spend at McDonald’s when you pick the kids up from school. It is also a good idea to determine your financial Kryptonite. If you must have every new pair of Jordan’s that come out, please note, you are not Michael Jordan, and he doesn’t even wear his own shoes every day.
- Another step toward financial fitness: Put more money toward your debt because when you pay only the minimum on your credit cards, it can add years to your debt and cost thousands of extra dollars in interest. But adding even an extra $15 to your minimum credit card payments can cut the total interest you pay in half.
The same can be said about your mortgage, your car payment and your student loans. Putting a little extra in the kitty can make for a happy cat, you. Now you can start saving for that vacation. A real vacation, not going out of town and staying with at Aunt Eloise’s house.
- Finally: Cut off your kids. Research shows that almost half of middle-aged adults provide financial support to their grown kids. And even if that’s not damaging your retirement plans, it’s robbing your kids of the chance to be financially independent. Susan Ende wrote How to Raise Your Adult Children. And she says waiting until your child comes for their next handout to say, “Sorry, Junior!” will only create unnecessary resentment.
Instead, teach them at an early age what money actually is, how it is earned and how much crap you have to put up with on your job just to earn that check! If they want money, the garage needs to be cleaned out, your vehicle washed and the yard raked. Better yet, when was the last time your kid saved some money to take you out to dinner?
Last year, I accepted a cash only challenge from a friend Hasheem Francis of Built to Prosper Companies. For 90 days, I lived a cash only life, and it may have saved mine. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was walk around for 30 days with a $100 in my wallet. I never thought I would have made it, but I did, and it taught me a very valuable lesson.
I spend money on things I want, not on what I need.
In order to be financially fit, it is like that hamburger, it taste great going in, but once inside, you know you should have made a better choice. Being a dapper man is all about making better choices.
Here is to your health.