What stocks should I invest in? Why do I need to have 30% of my assets in bonds? What is the optimal saving rate for retiring in 10 years? Why should I not invest in silver? Are Roth IRA’s better than Traditional IRAs? Should I draw down on my HELOC for investments? Why am I being shamed for spending my money on avocado toast??
When learning about personal finance, there are so many different questions to ask, thoughts to think, and concepts to learn.
It’s Financial Literacy Month and this post is a continuation of our Financial Literacy series here in April on The Mastermind Within. The last post talked about why financial literacy is important.
Today, I will sharing with you why it’s crucial to think critically about your finances, and realize personal finance is personal.
Personal finance is not about what your friends are doing with their money. It’s not about what your siblings are doing with their money. It’s not what I or some other blogger is doing with their money.
In this post, I will be discussing a mindset which you can apply to most things in life, but in particular, apply it to personal finance for your own financial journey.
Personal Finance is Personal
I’ve made a few mistakes in my life. One of the first financial mistake for me was when I got my first real paycheck.
I had just signed up for a 401(k) account.
I was Googling online, what should I invest in and how much should I put into my 401(k)?
“80% stocks, 20% bonds for a 23 year old? That’s a good one, right?”
After that first paycheck, I had $22 in bonds.
What was I doing???
I was 22 – did I need to protect my portfolio with some bonds? Better yet, should I have even been investing anything, and instead looked to pay down debt? Should I have put that $100 towards something else?
What did I want in life? What were my goals? I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, and yet I was making a financial decision with my hard earned cash.
Start with Why
Financial experts give advice which should work for the majority of people: pay yourself first, pay down your debt, invest in stocks and bonds, work for 40 years, and retire a millionaire. That’s how the story usually goes.
Historically, this has worked and the majority of this will continue to work going forward.
However, once you start to look at your financial situation, a whole new set of questions come up: “should I pay down debt or invest? Which debt should I pay down first? What is the best investment? How should I spend my money?”
You are on the right path: thinking critically and not just going with the first thing you read probably is a good idea.
Before starting to think about the answers for these finance questions, it’s important to turn inwards and look to first figure out what is important to you and your life.
Do you enjoy eating out? Do you enjoy nights out on the town? What about sporting events or playing on different city teams? Do you enjoy traveling?
What would your ideal life look like?
These are all fairly difficult questions – I don’t even know what makes me happiest even after thinking about it for the last few months and honestly, it seems my answer changes each and every day.
One thing I do know is I want to be wealthy so that when I do figure out what makes me happiest, I can spend my time doing that, and not have to worry about money.
I also want to be able to fully support my family – both the family I came from and the family I plan to start in the future. I want to make my world so big that everyone can come along for the ride and enjoy life stress-free.
These are my “whys” for getting my financial house in order and it’s because I thought critically, and realized that wealth won’t make me happy on its’ own… I need to have a why.
Do What’s Best for You
Personal finance is personal – it’s your money after all.
What are your goals? Do you want to retire in 10 years? Are you fine working for 40 years? What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Part of my mission writing here on The Mastermind Within is to look to influence your mind and help you get to the next level in your life.
Start with your why, and start with your mindset. This is so key to success in anything.
When looking to figure out what to do with your money, remember, it’s YOUR money.
It’s your hard earned cash.
You put in the hours for it – spend it on what you want to spend it on.
Figure out what’s best for you, and put your plan into action.
Personal finance is just that, personal. Personal finance is not about what your friends are doing with their money, what your parents are doing their money, or what some celebrity is doing with their money.
Personal finance is the science and application of how you earn, spend, save, track, invest, and build your wealth over time. It’s personal – taking control of your finances is on you.
By starting with why, and figuring out what you want to do in life, you will be able to improve your financial situation.
It’s so simple, and yet so many people don’t actually put in the time to first ask themselves the right questions and then put their plan into action through tracking your financial progress each month – be that through budgeting, saving X% a month, or paying down debts for the future.
Think critically, realize personal finance is personal, and do what’s best for you. That’s all I can ask.
Readers: I’d like you to assess where you are at financially. What is your dream? Do you already know what you want? How far along on your path to financial success are you? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live each and every day? Are your financial habits and actions in alignment with your goals?