“You should cut your own hair and stay in to save money.”
This was the kind of advice that I found when I first started looking into personal finance. Back in early-2008 I knew that I wanted to get better with money and that I wanted to document the journey. I didn’t think that I would ever fit in as a personal finance writer because I’ve always loved to go out and have fun.
This is why I have to write this article. I have to share the one secret that makes personal finance easy for those of us who hate budgeting and thinking about money 24/7.
“What kind of useless advice is that?”
That was all I could think about most personal finance advice at the time. I wasn’t sure what to think. I was a timid 20-year old college student. I wanted to share my true views, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. I didn’t want to stick out (this was way before the long hair).
I was confused about most financial advice at the time because I wanted to actually have a social life. I wanted to start some sort of a business because I had done summer school so that I could finish early and have the winter off. I gave myself 9 months to work on a new venture. I naturally started Studenomics 11 months later.
Long story short: I’ve only shared the tips and tricks that have worked for me. I don’t give unsolicited advice. There’s too many people out there ready to lecture you and tell you how you should live your life.
The funny thing is that most people usually question me about having fun when they find out that I write about money. A guy at the gym really wanted to know what I thought about his shoe habit. I told him that I would never tell someone what not to buy (or what to buy). I’m not here to lecture anyone.
The harsh truth is that we all spend money on something that would offend another person. I could never spend money on a basketball game or $400 running shoes. That’s just me. I have a feeling that you wouldn’t spend $200 on a pair of pro wrestling boots though.
With that being said…
What’s the #1 secret to personal finance?
You can have whatever you want. Money management is only about saying no to the things that don’t matter to you so that you can focus on what you care about.
This took me a really long time to figure out.
When someone finds out that I write about money they usually think that I’m against everything. It’s actually the opposite. I’m against useless stuff. I’m all for doing what excites you. I’m 100% all about doing whatever you want to do.
I personally want to travel and train. I don’t care about anything else. I’ll never own a fancy car nor will I spend more than $100 on a shirt. I just want to explore the world and take cool pictures for Instagram.
Well, how do you apply this secret?
Figure out what you want and cut out everything else.
This is the secret to personal finance. You can have money for the things that you want. You then save on everything else while you figure out how to make more money.
For example, I love to travel and I make this a priority. I don’t spend my time watching sports or stressing about the newest series on Netflix. I just want to work so that I can travel more often. Nothing else matters to me. You may want to have the coolest shoe collection while you save up for retirement. That’s your call.
Once you know what you want and what you don’t want, you can proceed to the next step…
Take one evening to optimize your spending.
We all suck when it comes to optimizing spending. We’re spending money on things that we don’t need. I still have a Netflix subscription (Netflix and chill) even though I’m fed up with the lame Canadian version. I actually have a few subscriptions that I definitely need to cut out.
How can you fix up your spending/improve your saving?
- Work on cutting on fixed payments that you don’t want anymore.
- Hide your money.
- Look into some investments.
- Keep on making more money.
- Keep on investing.
You can have anything that you want.
I stand by this statement.
Sure, some things may take longer to save up for (a house) and you’re going to have to wait. You can eventually have whatever you want.
The whole point of managing money is to have whatever you want and still save up because you don’t want to be broke when you’re older.
The reality is that we don’t save for no reason. The majority of us just aren’t good at saving money for a rainy day. It took me many years before I finally started putting money aside.
This is why it’s important to set colossal goals as you’re still enjoying life.
- Do you want to buy a house?
- Do you want to travel more?
- Would you like to start a business?
I’ve read extreme case studies. I know bloggers who gave up dating for over five years to save some money. I couldn’t give up dating for five weeks!
I also don’t want you to be broke. As I get closer to 30, there’s nothing worse than seeing friends try to catch up because they never took their finances seriously in their 20s. You don’t want to be that person who’s behind everyone.
My three best tips ever can be summarized in these three theories:
- The Cancun Technique For Saving Money. You have to read this to see the tie in. This is the only strategy that will help you save money.
- The Houdini System for saving money in the long run. Are you looking to save money for the future? This is how I manage to save up for the long-run.
- The YOLO System. I show you how I spend money without feeling guilty about it.
There’s nothing else that you can really say about personal finance. Everything else is just a minor detail that can be debated to death. There are dozens of tactics that we could dissect for hours.
Sure, it’s better to cook every single meal while you wear your uncle’s old pants when you go out. You could never go on a date for three years and save some cash. You could cut your own hair. The reality is that we’re all going to find our own unique ways to save money to have more cash for what we care about.
[Quick summary: The one secret that makes personal finance fun is knowing that you can have whatever you want if you’re willing to make it a priority while you cut everything else out.]
There’s some extreme story about how you can live with one shirt for the rest of your life. You could also work 20 hours a day and sleep only while you’re waiting for your food.
Most of us live in the real world and we’re not going to follow any of that advice. We’re all pretty normal people who want to do cool things.
Be ruthlessly unapologetic about spending money on the things that you truly love and don’t spend a penny on the stuff that you don’t need. If your friends get offended, send them here.
“To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.” — Tim Ferriss