Being financially savvy will mean different things to different people. But a common trait that the money-smart share is an affinity for long term financial planning and goals. Those who are great at it don't have to make huge sacrifices but still manage to enjoy a high standard of living while travelling and pursuing various hobbies.
To be financially savvy, you should plan for the future and manage your cash flow with a budget. A budget and a long-term plan clarify your goals and guide your day-to-day behaviour, so you can avoid leaving your finances to chance. Whether you are starting out with setting your financial-building goals or trying to get back on track with your finances, the following top tips of the financially savvy are sure to change your life.
Habits of Financially Savvy People
1. Plan and Budget
If you want to achieve your financial and wealth-building goals, you must have a plan and a budget. Your plan encompasses both long and short-term goals, and it includes leisure and purchase goals (such as holidays, a house, and a car), as well as investment goals.
Your plan identifies what you want to achieve and tells you how to get there. On the other hand, your budget sets out the day-to-day things you need to do to accomplish your long-term plans. You can use it to guide your behaviour and make intelligent choices about everyday spending.
Your budget also lets you track, review, and adjust your spending and saving habits. Budgeting doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated, and there are hundreds of apps and free spreadsheet templates that you can use to start budgeting today.
2. Living within Your Means
Related to no. 1 above, this means living within your financial capacity or income. If there are items that you really need to purchase, you can check on other cheaper alternatives or wait until you have more money to make the purchase. As they say, if you can't pay cash, that means you can't afford it.
3. Find Additional Sources of Income
Since we are talking about increasing purchasing power, how about finding more additional income sources? Whether you're working on that e-commerce idea or driving for Uber in your spare time, additional streams of income will see you boosting your savings and wealth by not just cutting back on spending but by maximising your earning power.
The financially savvy aren't just cutting back in small and large ways; they're constantly on the lookout for ways they can generate an extra $500, $1,000, or more each month. Start small by exploring your hobbies and talents. Don't discount things like renting out your spare room or using extra downtime for some freelance work.
While it doesn't sound like much, an additional $500 a month translates to an extra $6,000 over the course of a year. This is extra money you can use to invest in shares, drop into an investment property, or start another side business project.
4. Save a Fixed Percentage of Your Income
Save for a rainy day. The financially savvy are super disciplined at saving, and many pay themselves first by putting away 5%, 10% or more of every pay cheque received. Always pay yourself first, and then save for specific purchase goals (such as a holiday or a new car) on top of your regular savings habit. Given the concept of compound interest, this will have you maximising the power of your money over the long term.
5. Get Advice When You Need It
Financially savvy people also know to get advice when they need it, whether that's consulting a tax expert, accountant, or financial planner. These experts know the latest tax and legal changes, so they can help you with everything from minimising your taxes and maximising super contributions to structuring your wealth-building vehicle for optimal tax outcomes.
Financial experts can also introduce you to investment and savings products you might not be aware of. While you might not need to see an expert right now, keep in mind advice from professionals in the field is "money well spent" and will help you make the right financial decisions in the future.
6. Be Smart When Using Credit and Debt Financing
Credit and debt can be useful tools for short-term needs, and good debt such as mortgages and car financing is used by millions of people to achieve their life goals more quickly.
On the other hand, high-interest debt generators, like credit cards, can impede your wealth-building strategy over the long term. Delays in paying off this type of outstanding debt can seriously increase your interest burden over time.
Always aim to pay high-interest debt first, and avoid living beyond your means by saving up to pay with cash where possible, instead of buying things on credit.
7. Prepare for Risk
This is where your rainy-day fund comes in handy. Financially savvy people plan for the unexpected events in life, to protect themselves and their family. An excellent financial risk management plan should include an emergency fund (which might be equivalent to three to six months worth of living expenses) and possibly taking out income-related insurance.
Your risk management strategy will allow you to recover from setbacks more quickly. It can ensure you keep meeting your financial obligations in the event of sudden illness or unemployment.
8. Plan for Retirement
People who are great with money know that it's never too early to start planning for retirement. You will want to maintain a suitable standard of living when you're no longer earning an income through your salary. So, an early start gives you the best chance to build wealth through incremental contributions to super, tax minimisation, and other wealth-building strategies.
Start putting away money for retirement as early as possible and work with experts to find out what you can do to grow your retirement funds.
9. Keep Emotions Far from Your Money
Money and finances are an emotional topic for most people, and financially savvy people have learned to keep their emotions in check when making financial decisions. This is true whether they decide to buy a new household gadget or make a significant decision such as buying a house or investing in a business.
When you surf online, you may have seen a lot of advertisements related to your interests. These can stir your emotions, especially if it's something you really want to buy. However, financially savvy people know these advertisements are meant to attract you to whip out your credit card and buy.
They are designed to make you confused about which ones are your wants and needs, so beware. If you are an online shopping addict, install adblockers to minimise the number of ads you see online. Keeping your emotions in check also means avoiding the temptation to "keep up with the Joneses" and spending within your means.
10. Apply Money Management Insights
Financially savvy people never stop educating themselves and are constantly investing in their financial education. Staying informed, reading new books on money management strategy and consulting with financial professionals are all ways you can continually learn, apply, review, and adapt to successful wealth building.
In the end, educating yourself means recognising that you are the one responsible for your financial destiny.
11. Not Delaying Maintenance
Maintenance is part of our lives, whether you like it or not. Cars break down, faucets loosen up, aircon filters, ovens and all sorts of household appliances need regular checks and maintenance. Financially savvy people care about their possessions, and if there are things that need to be fixed, they do it immediately. Further delays can often cost more in the long run, so it's best to attend to them as early as possible.
12. Only Insure Important Items
Home, car and life insurance are a must. But getting insurance for household items like TV, laptops, and clothing might not be feasible if you are strapped for cash. Of course, if you can afford contents insurance, by all means, you should have it. But if you are currently overpaying, take the time to think like a financially savvy person and shop around.
13. Don't Lease Cars
Every money-savvy man and woman knows that leasing a car is not a financially sound decision in the long run; after paying all those rental fees, the vehicle is not yours in the end. It is much better to buy a reliable second-hand car instead if you can't afford a new one.
So, that's all for our post about the top habits of financially savvy people that all of us should emulate. It might be hard to apply the discipline at first, but all can be done with hard work and determination to get out of a financial rut.
If you need help with your debt, call Credit Counsellors on 1300 003 328 for a free assessment with one of our friendly debt advisors. Our expert team is here to help get you started on the path to financial freedom. What are you waiting for?