5 Finance Habits I Wish I Had Earlier in Life

There are five finance habits that I can look to and say, this has brought me a lot of success financially, but I wish I had learned them earlier, so here is your chance to learn what I missed out on earlier in life. 

A lot of times in life we look back and say, “if only” and wonder how life would have turned out if we had the opportunity to do things over again. Life is about the experience and if we don’t think “if only” then we aren’t taking on enough challenges to learn and grow later in life. Challenges help us to become later in life, even with money. 

You just can’t grow with money without saving it, investing it, and using it wisely. We should always progress and gain knowledge from the experience. That being said here are five things that have really helped me out.

Number One – Have a Money Partner

Whether it is your wife or partner or friend or even a parent it is always a good idea to bounce money ideas off of another person. The second perspective, the outsider’s point of view, devil’s advocate has been invaluable to me.

Honestly, I consider my marriage to be my greatest business partnership in life. My wife’s view on money was so refreshing because I didn’t think anyone else thought as I did. When I look at the money we have accumulated together, my wife and I control a good amount and hold the success or failure of our life in our hands. I want no greater success than for my family to flourish. Taking it on by myself is great; having help is even better.

Now I’m not saying you can’t do it alone. I lived on my own for quite a while and was successful, but not to the level that I’ve had working with others. Having a second or third perspective on money, finances, and expenses is invaluable. Just having another point of view may help you see your money in a different light.

What if I had consulted other people right out of college about finances and growing my money? Where would I be today?

Number Two – Educate Yourself About Investing and Truly Understand Risk

One of the quickest ways to stay stagnant in your wealth creation is to ignore it and not educate yourself. When should you start to invest and how much? Lack of education is how folks get into consumer debt in the first place and why so many people don’t understand sound investments.

At my first job, they handed me a brochure about the company match and I thought to myself “okay, 3% is good, whatever, I am pretty young and retirement is a long way away so I guess that is good.” However, 3% will not be good enough ever! That was about all the time and effort I put into any type of investing early on.

I also feared losing money because I thought “you can lose all your money in the market.” Well, that is just what people with no experience think. When you truly study and learn about investing and the stock market you can find a steady pattern. You can learn how to eliminate much of the risk if you have a long-term perspective. Can you lose money? Absolutely, but if you are educated about your life goals and have a good time perspective, you will likely end up wealthy.

So many folks fear investing and that is just downright silly. You invest all the time, you just don’t think about it as an investment. ALL THE TIME!

Consider the following and understand these are investments (major investments):

  • Purchase of a house (30-year commitment)
  • Purchase of a car (5 years with ongoing investment)
  • Marriage (lifetime commitment – maybe – plus adding on kids)

Those are far riskier than starting $3,000 in a mutual fund. When you are educated and experienced, risk has a whole different meaning to you. You just have to change your perspective. Plus how much have you invested in consumer debt? You may not think of debt as an investment, but it is, it just doesn’t pay you back….ever….so why are you afraid to invest?

Number Three – Look Outside of Your Career 

You may think you are in your dream job but consider the following: Does it give you daily satisfaction? Do you feel in control of life? Will you have financial freedom? When will you have financial freedom?

What if I had more entrepreneurial exposure dealing with money earlier in life instead of just taking a regular job and planning on retiring at 65?

I went to college and finished very early so I could jump-start my career. I thought I was getting ahead by finishing school early, but I was so focused on the job that I made all my goals the job and not the overall accumulation of wealth and financial independence. Why did I do that? Because I wasn’t even aware of financial independence. I was just in the zone of what most people do.

So taking a step back from where you are today are you fulfilling your potential to achieve financial independence? Will your current career get you there or are there other options that have not been explored? If I hadn’t taken a step back I would be hundreds of thousands behind where I am in life. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to really find who you are and achieve success in life.

With so many people ready to retire it is also a prime opportunity to put yourself in a position to move up and take your boss’s job. Don’t miss out on opportunities in life because of comfort and complacency. It is rare that someone is going to come up to you and hand you an opportunity in life, seek it out and take it for yourself, or watch others achieve what you want and leave you wondering “what if.” If you are going to stay permanently then you have to ask for raises or you can lose out on tens of thousands or more over your working life.

Number Four – Find Achievement, Not Just Money

I love money. I am a big fan of money. I get really annoyed when rich people say, “it’s not about the money,” but you know what? Sometimes it isn’t about the money. Some of my greatest satisfactions in life have been what I have been able to accomplish or try or learn or see others achieve than the paycheck.

Taking on a project and having success is satisfying. A lot of times at work if you aren’t engaged in some type of achievement or progress and you become stagnant and unsatisfied. No amount of money will solve that feeling of being unsatisfied. A lot of folks try to solve problems by throwing money at the issue instead of engaging folks or challenging them to become more than what they are in life.

You have to find that satisfaction and happiness. Sometimes you will find it through the success of others and helping others achieve. It isn’t always about you. Helping my daughter finally ride a bike and learn to read has been far more satisfying than any work achievement lately. “What if” you helped others to find achievement? What if you found satisfaction in the simplicity of life instead of always thinking someone else has it better? What if you found a habit outside of work that fills that empty gap you may be feeling?

Number Five – Be Patient and Have the Big Picture in Mind

Sometimes we get so worried about what is happening today that we sacrifice our future only to look back with regret. If you could go back 5, 10, or 15 years would you do things differently financially? I think most of us would say yes.

I don’t know any person who has ever said, “Why did I save so much money?” I have yet to run into that person who has issues with having too much money.

I do find this person all the time, “why didn’t I save more?” If only I had done more earlier. Well, what are you going to do today to fix that issue so that later in life you don’t have more financial regrets? Sometimes I don’t think I have achieved very much, but when I take a look back at my financials from a year ago or five years ago, I am light years ahead and it feels so good to see that steady consistent saving and investing and sacrifice has paid off huge.

If only I had started earlier!

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