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Ask Dr. C: Are You ‘Buck’ Wild? These 5 Tips Are For You!

I learned about money management late in life, I think.

I was never taught (nor did I make any effort myself to learn) about simple financial facts. My first job was an office job – what would now the be equivalent of data entry. My first few dozen paychecks were spent on clothes. Totally. I would take out money to give for charity (I guess my selfishness wasn’t totally complete), but I had given no thought to saving a portion of any of my checks. It’s amazing how fast money disappears when you aren’t making any effort to watch it go. Going ‘buck wild’ had new meaning for me. I was spending every ‘buck’ as soon as I earned it. My wardrobe was stunning (for a college girl), but my bank account was usually overdrawn.

At first, while in college, I was still living at home and didn’t have to pay rent. I just had to maintain my grades (stay on the Dean’s List) and be a useful member of our family when I was at home. Done and done. But, when I got my second job (it seemed I was suited for office work right from the start), I was planning to get an apartment and needed to get serious about putting money aside. Sure enough, I would take out my rent money and spend every penny of the rest of it. I didn’t know or care to learn anything about the wonderful world of finance. I thought an asset was something I sat very prettily on in class. You can see that money is still not something I get serious about. BUT, I know that one of the more effective ways to show you are an adult in this world is by developing the ability to manage your money and establishing a mindset of building wealth for your future.

Let’s look at 5 ‘dollar sense’ tips:

1. LEARN THE WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH MONEY.

Maybe check out Finances for Dummies, or something light if you don’t want to get an accounting book. But learning the meaning of the financial words that are being bantered about, is quite necessary. For example, I know that assets are things that put $ in my pocket and liabilities are things that take $ out of my pocket. That’s good to know. Find out what credit card interest is, etc.

2. CREATE A BUDGET.

Almost everyone knows this. If it seems to take all the fun out of earning money, I sympathize. But you should write down every penny that comes in and write down where every penny goes out. Someone once said, “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.” Smart person. Take it from GI Joe “knowing is half the battle”

3. RECOGNIZE YOUR IMPULSES.

Impulses are bad when it comes to shopping. Groceries can eat up (pardon the pun) a lot of your budget if you don’t go to the store with a list. Impulse buys are bad. Even shopping for shoes, I usually regret the “impulse shoe”. I have quite a few pairs that adorn my shelves, but rarely my feet, cause they don’t match much of my wardrobe….but the impulse was strong. Did I mention that poor impulse control shows immaturity? Sigh.

4. SET GOALS.

If you are a list-maker, you can have financial goals for the week, month and year. I am a huge fan of setting goals and making a plan to attain the goals. It’s what propels us forward each day.

5. DECIDE THAT SAVING IS ONE OF THE SMARTEST THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR MONEY.

Saving money shows that you understand that it’s wise to put something away in times of plenty for those times of want and need.

 

Fast forward to present day: I am financially lovely. My impulsiveness has been tapered with wisdom. Savings and generosity are hallmarks of my life today. I still love shoes, but self-control has its own kind of reward.

One of my dreams is to see women of Orlando as some of the wealthiest women in the nation. Bold dream? Yes. But it can start with the five simple steps listed above.

Financially lovely,

Dr. C.