It’s easy to look back and think about our financial regrets (not living on less than I earned from the get-go, buying on credit, taking money out of retirement, etc.) but it’s also worthwhile to spend a little time thinking about some of the smart financial moves we’ve made.
After all, if we’ve made some smart financial moves in the past, we probably want to repeat them or continue to do them.
So here are some of the smart financial moves that I’ve made over the years. Please chime in with yours too.
Paid in cash. I’ve paid for many things in cash over the years, often using some creative methods to do so. For example, the carpet in the condo my ex and I had when my son was a toddler was really disgusting. I didn’t help matters that our vacuum had been broken, and we had two indoor dogs & two indoor cats that shed constantly. I desperately wanted to replace the carpet, but was determined to do it with cash. But we had no extra money. So I bought and resold transferable airline vouchers to earn the money for the carpeting. (And a vacuum.)
Started putting money away for retirement young. When I got that big pile of paperwork at my first “real” job, I actually read it. It mentioned something about a 401(k) and a company match. I didn’t understand what it was saying, so I asked my supervisor there for more information. She explained that it was a really good idea, basically free money, and that I should do it. That sounded good to me, but I was still skeptical so I did a little more research. Everything I found pointed to the same answer, so I signed up.
Paid attention & read. When people talked about money, I paid attention, both to the good and the bad things they said. I knew that I needed to learn a lot about finances, so I tried to educate myself. (And I’m still doing so now.)
Kept good records. This is mostly my mom’s doing, but I did follow through, so it counts! She taught me the importance of keeping good records, and why keeping them could be beneficial. (It saves you money, protects you from claims that you haven’t paid what you actually have paid, helps you catch bank errors, helps you take advantage of tax deductions, etc.)
Began living on less than I earned. One read of Your Money or Your Life while on vacation and I was hooked. Living on less than I earn is the path to financial freedom, and I’m going to get there.
Tracking my spending. This helped immensely with both living on less than I earned and the next item in the list. It’s also a way to be sure I’m getting the things I want to get, instead of a bunch of stuff I don’t even remember.
Getting out of debt. This has been a game-changer. (Not getting into it in the first place would have been better, but I’m trying to stay on the positives here.)
Having health, life & disability insurance. Until I can self-insure, this is the way to go to take care of those types of emergencies.
Planning, setting goals, and achieving them. Goals provide direction for me, and help me to get where I want to be.