Let’s not beat around the bush: money is important.
You need money to eat, to put a roof over your head, to be a functional member of society.
For better or worse, this is just how the world was structured.
Now I’m not saying you have to be obscenely wealthy in life, but educating yourself to properly handle money will pay off. Literally.
As an adult, you want to be fully equipped to deal with money–and not have to learn the hard way.
Bottom line: financial independence is empowering.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the key habits one exhibits when they have a healthy relationship with money.
Let’s get to it!
1) You know how to budget
Without budgeting, many of us would be spending recklessly, perhaps even perpetually remaining broke or living paycheck to paycheck.
Systematically budgeting gives you a point of reference about how much you should be spending in a given month.
It’ll help you strategize how to use your money moving forward.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have nice things, or enjoy the occasional night on the town.
But you should allocate funds for specific purposes, and everything–from the Uber to the bar, to the drunken cheeseburger and fries after–should be jotted down.
Once you have an overall awareness of your finances, you’ll naturally start making wiser decisions.
You’ll also start living within your means…
2) You live within your means
The quickest route to debt (and debt-related stress) is overspending, and living beyond your means. I think we’ve all sort of been there at some point.
So if you can regularly resist the temptation of giving into impulse purchases, you’re in good shape.
The next time you’re in the mall, and you get the urge to buy that shirt or bag from Zara, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If not, then keep walking.
The fact is, most material things in life are kind of unnecessary; we might want them at the moment, but they won’t fundamentally change the trajectory of our lives in a positive way.
Sure, companies will try to suck you in, by offering things like low-interest payment plans to sweeten the deal.
But at the end of the day, you’ll still end up on the losing end. Stay vigilant.
3) You’re a saver
I’ve gotten pretty religious about saving the past few years.
In the past, I’d spend like crazy, purely living in the moment, foolishly never considering the future.
I’d essentially blow my paycheck every month without thinking long-term.
Admittedly, this was a juvenile way of going about living.
The things I genuinely wanted out of life, such as traveling the world or making smart investments, were often out of reach for me. I simply couldn’t afford it–something that got very frustrating.
If you consistently save a respectable amount of your income every month, creating an emergency fund for unpredictable expenses, it’s safe to say that you have a healthy relationship with money.
After all, you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to have to borrow money every time something unexpected happens.
Now, you might be thinking, “Saving a few bucks a month won’t get me rich.”
All I have to say to that is, if you’re diligent about saving, you’d be surprised how far this mindset can take you.
4) You manage debts properly
Debt may suck but it is also one of the realities in life. Squid Games, anyone?
Since we’re on the topic of television–have you seen the series Mr. Robot? Well, the main character Elliot’s (Rami Malek) goal is to bring down corporate America by hacking into their systems and erasing everyone’s debts.
As intriguing as this plot may be, it’s unfortunately still a work of fiction.
The reality is, we very much have to live with our debt.
So if you have a tangible plan to pay off your obligations, perhaps by regularly communicating with creditors and agreeing on payment plans, then you’re relationship with money is likely a decent one.
Also, if you minimize credit card use and avoid things like high-interest loans and “fast” cash, this is a big deal.
Don’t let these ruthless banks play you like a fiddle. Remember, your debt is their asset.
You’re better than that.
5) You make sound investments
While your savings should definitely be a priority, you eventually also want to make your money grow and work for you.
Besides, if you leave your funds in the bank for too long, you can risk losing money to inflation.
This is where investing comes in.
If you have made a few smart investments for the future, whether through stocks, real estate, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts or what have you, then your relationship with money is likely quite strong.
Granted, all investments inherently carry some risk.
But you can mitigate that risk by consulting with the professionals and methodically doing your due diligence.
Remember, investing isn’t reserved for the Warren Buffets of the world.
When we have extra funds in the bank (and we all should get to this point), then strategically planting it somewhere is the way to go.
6) You create financial goals
From my experience, having a firm set of goals will give you the extra motivation needed to make smart decisions with money.
Envision the ideal future you want for yourself.
This isn’t just a dream life, you can make it your reality. Take baby steps. Have quarterly or annual goals. Manifest them the right way.
For instance, maybe you want to save for a house and feel discouraged because the contents of your bank account aren’t quite up to par.
So set a goal, something along the lines of: I want to save X amount before I turn 30 (or even 40… age is inconsequential here.)
With a clear direction, you meticulously work towards that, slowly but surely, budgeting your hard-earned cash accordingly.
Once you get to where you want to be, or even make major strides towards your goals, the feeling of accomplishment is unbeatable.
7) You can be generous
Once you get into the habit of being diligent about money, the tendency is to sometimes do a complete 180, and become a bit too careful about how you impart with your funds.
This is a phenomenon sometimes called “being cheap.”
Saving and investing is great, but too much of a good thing can start to have adverse effects.
When you achieve a certain degree of self-sufficiency, don’t just hoard money; share the wealth too.
Suppose you are able to occasionally donate to charitable causes or treat your family or partner to a nice dinner out every now and then. In that case, this indicates a well-balanced relationship with money.
At the end of the day, the point of having money is to ultimately spend it in some form or another–so if this means periodically treating your loved ones to something meaningful, then I’d consider that a sound investment.
So there you have it: invest, save, live within your means, budget. It may sound like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize it’s not all that complicated.
The great thing is that you don’t need a special skill or talent to handle money properly, you just need a bit of discipline.
Once you shift your perspective when it comes to finances, a whole new reality will open up to you.
So keep moving forward, learn from your mistakes, and start making smarter decisions. Financial freedom awaits.