"Well then, it looks like you'll just have to go hungry!" yelled my mom over the phone 3,000 miles away in sunny California before hanging up the phone. It was my sophomore year of college, and I stood mortified at the Cold Stone cash register having both my campus dining and debit cards rejected. Not only rejected, but immediately followed by a friendly Bank of America text notifying me I'd accumulated $200 in overdraft fees.
Panicked, I called home not realizing it was Mother's day, forgetting to say, "Happy Mother's Day," and instead asked for money. As you might imagine mom was infuriated and being the wonderfully fierce woman I've come to admire she wanted me to suffer the consequences of my stupidity...through starvation.
Bless my dad's soul, however, bless it indeed. An hour later, I get a call letting me know he'd transferred funds into my checking account. "I'll tell you, for being so-called 'smart' that was pretty stupid. Call your mother to apologize, start a budget, and for goodness sake set a calendar reminder!" Wise words. Since then I've learned the following:
- Money is really, really hard to earn.
- The path to wealth is driven by mindsets and habits. Not get-rick-quick strategies.
- Invest for the long run.
- I prefer index funds with really low fees. Read The Intelligent Investor for more.
- Use compound interest to your advantage
- Live below your means
- Make budgeting a habit. I follow a 50/20/30 rule of thumb...
- 50% on essentials (rent, groceries, utilities etc.)
- 20% of financial goals (IRA, emergency fund, student loan repayment, etc.)
- 30% on discretionary (restaurants, movies, shopping, etc.)
- You are broke if every dollar you make is being spent, regardless of income.
- Beware of lifestyle inflation
- Without awareness of how you spend, you'll find you're spending $80,000 at the same rate you spent a $40,000 paycheck.
- Cutting expenses is more powerful than increasing income.
- There is no such thing as good debt.
- Debt will haunt you.
- Prioritize debt repayment. Always pay more than the minimum monthly payment.
- Net worth is the only number that matters.
Money & Happiness
- Money is a thing, that makes possible the acquisition of things. A lot of things, however, are not going to make you happy.
- Money doesn't buy happiness, but a lack of money does guarantee misery.
- Have a lifestyle goal, not just financial goals.
- Financial awareness is spending your hard-earned cash on purchases that add value to your life.
- Spend on experiences.
- Some people are so poor all they have is money.