While it may feel as if the only way to achieve financial success—or even stability—is with an advanced degree in mathematics, economics, or investing, the truth is you can master personal finance with these non-financial skills.
Knowing yourself means acknowledging your strengths and your weaknesses when it comes to saving, spending, and investing money. Awareness of motivators, habits, and fears gives you the power to make better decisions. Ask yourself, what triggers an impulse purchase? Why do you do that breaks your budget? Do you have an emotional reaction to advertising or life events that makes you want to spend money?
This is the mental muscle that helps you put an impulse purchase back on the shelf and stick to your budget, so you can achieve your financial goals, whatever they may be. Coupled with self-awareness, self-control enables you to avoid spending temptations and not compromise when it comes to saving for retirement and investing for your future.
Getting creative with ways to save more, spend less, reward yourself, and stay motivated will prevent your budget from feeling like a financial straight jacket. You may even discover new talents and hobbies along the way! Consider growing your own food, repurposing items, making more of the things you want and need, or building a cottage business for additional income. It’s all about using your imagination and thinking outside your wallet to meet your needs and wants.
When you refuse to be rushed, arm yourself with information, and remove the influence of advertising and peer pressure when making a purchase, you might find that being smarter with your money becomes easier. With everything from investments to everyday purchases, take your time, ask questions, and trust that you should be able to understand any financial move and how it benefits you. If you can’t do those three things, consider it an unwise move.
It’s easiest to make small, repeated strategic money decisions when you keep the end goal in mind. The big picture should remind you of what you value most—e.g. being debt-free, being able to travel, affording a graduate degree—and keeping it in mind will allow you to see how you are progressing to achieve it.
If time feels like one of the biggest hurdles to achieving financial security, then think of patience as your secret weapon. Patience allows you to delay gratification to see an end-goal achieved, it allows you to see success in small decisions, and it prevents you from exposing your financial assets to unnecessary risk. Patience means not giving up.
Self-confidence and contentment go hand-in-hand. You’re more likely to make an emotional financial decision when you begin comparing yourself to your peers who may seem to have the latest and greatest of everything and their lives all figured out—on social media, at least. Constant comparison will steal your time, energy, happiness, and money. Instead, cultivate contentment and self-confidence.
It may sound counterintuitive or taboo, but talking openly about finances with partners, peers, and mentors is actually one of the best ways to gain and share knowledge, learn to negotiate with diplomacy, and discover helpful resources.