Money = Freedom
Sunday 30 October 2011
There’s no doubt money has a dark side. Considered dirty by many, it causes more problems in relationships than nearly anything else and most sadly, its unequal distribution brings about a lot of inequality in the world. But the great thing about money? If you’re smart with it, it can buy you freedom.
Having recently returned from an overseas holiday with a bank balance in the black I realised how lucky I was to be in such a comfortable position. It also made me think about what a difference having even a little money behind us can make.
Money can magically whisk away at least some of our problems and can give us peace of mind … it’s hard to sleep well if our debt is growing and we have no idea how we’re going to pay it back. If it’s handled right, money can give us choices in life that we’d never have otherwise, from where we live to how often we can afford to take a holiday. Being smart with our finances also affords us the freedom to do what we really want to do—like staying in a rewarding but low-paying job, taking time out of the workplace to have children, or going back to full-time study. Best of all, if we ever do become one of the lucky ones with money to burn there are so many wonderful causes we could support.
Where to start? It’s pretty simply really.
1. Wipe your slate clean. The first and most important thing you can do is to get rid of any bad debt you may have accumulated (that is, money you’ve borrowed to buy things that depreciate—like most of the things you’ll purchase on your credit card). If you’re struggling or just don’t know where to start, speak to a licensed financial adviser as soon as possible.
2. Open an online savings account that offers a competitive interest rate and start saving—think about setting up direct debits from your everyday bank account to your online account straight after every pay, before you can be tempted to spend it. Try to save three months’ worth of living expenses—if you’re not sure how much to save write down everything you spend over a month to give yourself a realistic idea. Call this account something like ‘Emergency Fund’ and don’t touch it (except if there’s an emergency, obviously).
3. Keep going. Once you’ve completed steps one and two give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t stop there. It’s time to start investing, in whatever way appeals to you most. Managed funds are great for people just starting out or for those of us who are time-poor. Shares and property both make great investments over the long-term and you could very well pick up a bargain in either if you’re ready to invest anytime soon. Whatever you do, make a start now—we guarantee you’ll get a kick out of watching your money grow.
Nina (one half of Moneygirl)
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