Which Route To a Happy, Wealthy Future?
When you step into the online realm of personal finance, it opens you up to a varied range of blogs and websites offering different types of financial advice.
In this online world, you will find the “earn more” group of bloggers who basically support the great qualities of investing alongside career development. These bloggers not only give advice on investment but can also promote strategies that involve high risk for big returns.
Then we have the “spend less” crowd. They generally make cost-cutting into an art form. Watching every penny and making sure that those pennies buy them only what they need. Buying in charity shops, brown bag lunches for work, making your own clothes etc.
Then we have the “early retirement” group. It might sound impossible that some bloggers in the early retirement group retire in their thirties. While it is possible, this kind of lifestyle can’t be achieved by everyone unless you make the right decisions at a young age. What is important to keep in mind is that retirement means different things to different people.
Which route should I take?
Right from that day when I was sitting in the works canteen I have been firmly with the “retire early” crowd. Maybe not as extreme as some out there but nonetheless that has always been my goal. The journey to date has seen me crossing into the other two camps as well. In the past, I have been a manic saver, hoarding every last penny, and choosing to cycle to work instead of having a car. I have pushed myself at work to earn as much as possible and taken on risky strategies such as forex trading.
Of course, you don’t have to make a choice between earning more or spending less, you can try both.
It’s possible that taking a more balanced approach is best suited to you. You don’t have to earn a high salary or save 80 percent of your take-home pay in order to get ahead. As a matter of fact, there are a number of smart ways to reach your financial goals that don’t involve any excessive measures on your part. Let’s look at a few ideas. . . . . . .
Making an effort to earn extra cash is a great idea. Nevertheless, you may require some creative thinking skills in order to boost your income level. The first step is to ask your boss for a raise. When was the last time you asked for one? A word of caution don’t ask without preparing yourself first, read articles such as this one to make sure you make a compelling case with sound reasoning.
The most common way to increase your earnings is to move to a higher paid job. The moment that the new company decides they want you is the time you have most leverage, as they are not sure they can get you. Use this situation to your advantage in negotiating a better deal for yourself. The added benefit of getting a new, higher paid job is that any future percentage pay rises will mean more money, elevating your lifetime earnings.
You can always look for a second job; however doing so may sometimes mean giving up more than you actually gain. Family and social time are very important and a balanced approach needs to be found.
There are some other basic ways to earn more, they include:
Selling things that you don’t need. This is a very easy way to make some extra money. What you need to do is to take an inventory of your property and determine the items you no longer use. After that, you can choose to sell the items in different ways. The most common and suitable options include auctioning them off on web-based sites such as eBay. For items that are too big or simply don’t sell on eBay, or aren’t worth the hassle of posting, then have a car boot/garage sale. The main thing to remember is not to charge too much. Yes, it is great to make money but you need to be realistic. A good rule of thumb is to sell things for one-half to one-third their original price.
Cash in on your crafty side. Do you sew, knit or make jewellery items? Sell your creations on Etsy, and other such sites.
Find a side hustle. A side hustle is a way of making extra money in your free time that allows you the flexibility to do something that you’re interested in. Write a book and publish it on Kindle or try your hand at matched betting whilst keeping your day job.
Spending less – some quick wins
In case you aren’t able to earn more cash, spending less is one of the best ways to start getting ahead. In fact, cutting your spending is like giving yourself a big fat raise.
Without a doubt, the more you cut on your spending, the bigger your raise will be. But this doesn’t mean cutting everything out because you still have to eat, take care of your kids, and pay your bills and everyday expenditures. Also keep in mind that you should be happy about your choices so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to the point that it’s all about you making sacrifices and its making you unhappy.
There are different and fairly painless ways to reduce your expenditures and increase the amount of cash you’re able to save.
When it comes to cutting your own expenses, there are lots of possibilities and you need to consider everything. For instance, look at all your utilities. Are you on the best deals? Spend some time here as this is saving without you having to make any sacrifices.
You need to ask yourself if you really need a landline or a second car and go ahead to weigh the benefits vs. expenses of each. Also, take a close look at how much money you spend when you’re going out to eat and how much you spend on groceries.
Do you subscribe to newspapers and magazines? Do you read them or just have a flick through before casting them aside to gather dust and generally clutter up your house. Cancel any subscription you don’t use.
How many of the expensive movie and sports channels do you actually watch? Ask yourself if you need them all or are they a “nice to have” that you can live without? My wife traded down from Sky to Netflix and has lots to watch whenever she wants.
Never accept an insurance renewal quote. For the sake of 30 minutes filling in a few online forms you can make some big savings on all your insurance policies. For even greater savings pick the phone up and ask them to beat quoted prices. You will be surprised how often they can match and often beat quotes.
Stop keeping up with the Joneses. Not keeping up with other people is one of the best financial decisions you can make in your life. If you’re the kind of person who tries to compete with friends and neighbours, you’re completely wrecking your financial future. For the sake and security of your own financial position and future lifestyle, it is important to stop outsiders from manipulating your spending in any way possible. If you experience consumer envy due to the possessions of family or friends, it’s best to try and remember that their financial circumstances may be completely different to yours, and not necessarily for the better. A great book on this subject that I thoroughly recommend reading is the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and Willian D. Danko.
For those who don’t choose to read the Millionaire Next Door I will give you a very quick overview as the message it carries is very powerful. The book looks at wealthy people and the way they live and spend their money. What is fascinating is that contrary to expectation, people who have real wealth don’t do any of the things that we perceive the wealthy to do. They don’t live in big fancy houses, drive brand new sports cars or have expensive tastes. Instead, they are very careful with their money and live well within their means, with a large proportion of their income set aside for investment.
I hope the above has given you an insight into the routes you can take and has been food for thought. There is no right or wrong, it’s a personal journey and you have to decide what’s best for you. As a parting note just remember, the route to a happy, wealthy future basically depends on the decisions you make right now and it’s never too late to make positive changes that will make a real difference.