The best things in life are free, but when you are in a situation where you have no source of income, you wouldn’t be able to eat the beautiful flowers covering the garden nor could you trade in beautiful sunny days for rent. You are stuck with the decisions you made throughout your career and a bunch of overdue bills. Now what can you do?
Well, one important fact to constantly keep in your mind is that there are many things that happen in the outside world which affect people. Recall the PESTLE analysis which shines light on different areas that can affect businesses. It puts a lot of things in perspective when you consider a slight technological advancement could cost you your job, maybe we should consider bribing scientists to get inside information and be prepared to jump ship beforehand.
Remember the economic crisis in 2008 and the number of people who were unemployed overnight? Bankers who were able to afford huge houses and annual trips with their families were suddenly out of jobs. This is my question to you: are you financially stable enough to survive unemployment tomorrow? How long can you survive without income?
How can you make sure that your contract is not ended abruptly while you sip your coffee one morning? You can’t because sometimes terminations occur for a variety of reasons. So what’s the plan?
Be prepared at all times.
1- Enter the job market early. I am not against college education, on the contrary I vouch for education but if you were given the opportunity to work, work. At 19 years old, you do not have a lot of responsibilities and if you can study and work at the same time you should do it. This gives you an edge over many of your classmates who are studying as you are getting real life experience. This experience helps in your studies also since you will be able to bring real examples from work back to your classroom. Also, any source of income gives you financial independence at an earlier time (and you will be able to retire sooner if you wish)
2- Know your consumption and expenses well: you cannot save money without knowing where it all goes. For one month keep track of all your expenses. Are you using up 10% of your income on coffee? Are you spending 30% on fine dining? Where does the money go? You can have a simple excel sheet or a free mobile app that keeps track of your expenses. Alternatively, keep all your bills in one place and review them at the end of the month. When you realize that you are spending money on things that don’t matter, you will finally shine a bit of light in your sleeping consciousness.
3- Plan a budget: Think of where you want to spend your income and start with paying yourself now. Keep a specific amount monthly as savings for your future. You could open a different savings bank account and immediately pay yourself as soon as you receive your salary. This retirement/emergency fund would be very useful in cases of sudden unemployment.
4- Do not get into debt- by debt I mean credit cards and personal loans. If you can’t afford it on your income why stress your budget and stretch it to its limit? If you have a credit card, pay it off on time and try to get rid of it. The feeling of freedom.
5- Do not buy what you can’t afford- no you don’t need that Fendi bag
6- Think of spending as an investment- what if I need to sell this later on, would I be able to regain some or most of its value
7- Keep your change- you’d be surprised how much money you can save by saving your change everyday. Keep a small basket next to the door of your home and keep all change inside. Encourage your significant other to do the same.
8- Shop smarter- look for bargains, go out of your way to get to the better priced shop, and when always keep a shopping list that would help keep you in check with your actual needs.
10- Eat from home- the margins restaurants have on food is immense. A simple sandwich from home can save you a lot of money especially if you buy your lunch everyday. Eat out less: treating yourself to a dining experience is great if you have the money but why waste it?
11- Prioritize your values and spend accordingly
12- Unless it’s urgent, sleep on it. Give yourself one night to think of it and maybe, just maybe, you might change your mind. You could also realize that the feeling of needing the item will definitely diminish strongly and you will be able to see the actual importance (or lack of) of the item. Yes, a cute black dress is amazing at this price but do you really need it when you don’t go out?
14- Look for offers and coupons. It’s not a trick nor a conspiracy to buy more, its just a promotion technique that you can benefit from if you think of it wisely. Why is the promotion put and what can you benefit from it?
15- Learn to share and split the cost. Share your ride to work, your vacation trip, or anything. This is not you being stingy, this is you being smart.
16- Pass on the knowledge- teach your kids early how to be smarter financially.
Take control of your income and expenses, do not let your emotions drive you into oblivion and bankruptcy. Think before you take your wallet out and don’t get pulled in by fashionistas who are eager to cheer you on. Remember, they are just doing their job and yours is to take care of your future.