Some simple financial advice

Growing up I was raised by some very hard working individuals.  They were responsible and decent and taught me many things. Being the children of immigrants they had a unique take on life in our country.  Some of the lessons learned they passed on to us, their children.  Here are some of the basics: 

1. Work Hard

There is no substitute for waking up and deciding that the day is yours and will only be filled with activities that you set about doing.  Working hard can mean different things to different people--"hitting the books" to improve your content knowledge, or getting that project done, or taking your school work seriously.  Whatever it is, it will only be accomplished if you set out to do it. And you might not get it done, but that shouldn't stop you from starting.

2. Save your money

This seems like a no-brainer but with 40% of U.S. citizens lacking any savings at all it should be addressed.  Savings help in a variety of ways, from allowing you to repair that thing that wasn't supposed to break, to purchasing that thing that maybe you could not afford otherwise, or in a worst case scenario, keeping you housed and fed at a time when you might need it the most. Saving money is the "shock-absorber" of your financial life.

3. If you can't pay cash, you probably can't afford it

To many this may seem simple, but considering the amount of debt in this country, from the household to the business to the governmental level, it seems we do not tend to live by this maxim.  There are exceptions, of course: buying a home or the family car (but maybe not the second car).  Most items that are sought after can be purchased with a little patience and some help from rule #2.

4.If you're not tracking it, your losing it

For most people, spending money is a matter of reaching into their wallets and pulling out a few dollars or a card and purchasing what they'd like.  Often times it means paying the bills that are due every month.  Unfortunately for too many people keeping track of what they are spending and on what is not part of the process.  Tracking what, when and where your money goes gives you insights into your spending habits and the billing habits of your creditors.   And you may not know that your spending more than you'd like or thought on any particular category, or, could spend more somewhere else.  Without keeping track of your money you can have no control over the big picture.

5. Don't forget to invest

This portion comes with a caveat: The stock market is beyond the average citizens control and most individuals lack the information truly needed to invest correctly.  That being, investment for the long term is one way to maximize your savings over time.  It will beat inflation and can grow exponentially if done with discipline and over a long enough span.  Be aware, however, that the market is about risks, and we advise our clients that if you can't afford to lose something, don't put it somewhere it might get lost.  In other words, this comes last after you have saved for more immediate needs in life and should be thought of as a long term strategy for savings, not a means to growing your money extra fast.