We see all sorts of financial advice and tips floating around, both good and bad. The best financial advice I ever received has more to do with behavior than investing, and that’s why this little nugget guides almost every financial decision I make.
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Have you ever known someone who was able to get out of debt, save a down payment for a house, and still have money left in a savings account, all on one household income?
Then, maybe you turn your attention to a coworker who seems to have it all: a brand-new car, a big house with rooms she doesn’t even use, and clothes you KNOW cost a pretty penny.
You dig a little deeper and learn that this coworker has quite a bit of debt, despite living in a two-income household. Things may look idyllic from the outside, but she confesses that she loses sleep at night worrying about having enough money to cover the bills.
If you wonder how on earth some people are able to create a financially-stable life on one income while others are drowning in debt despite having two healthy income streams, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
The Best Financial Advice I Ever Received
“It doesn’t matter how much money you make; it only matters how much money you can keep.”
That right there is the best financial advice I’ve ever received, and it came straight from my mom. I’ll repeat it again because it’s just that important.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make; it only matters how much money you can keep.
Let’s go back to our example, shall we?
Two hypothetical women. Two very real spending behaviors.
The first person (we’ll call her Caroline) has this secret figured out. Even though Caroline lives in a single-income household, she doesn’t spend every penny that lands in her bank account.
She finds ways to save money so that she still has some left over at the end of the month. With that extra money, she was able to pay off her credit card debt and car loan.
But she didn’t stop there. She kept finding ways to save money, and she put that extra money in her savings account. After a while, she had built up enough funds to put a nice down payment on a reasonably-sized house without completely draining her savings account.
Even though Caroline has a smaller household income, she knows how to keep it rather than spending it all.
Sadie, on the other hand, is drowning in debt.
While she and her husband Rob both bring in sizeable incomes, they’re stuck in a rut of keeping up with the Joneses. All of their friends drive nice cars and live in large houses. Since they want to experience the finer things in life too, they bought a bigger house than they really needed. And since their older cars looked silly parked in front of their big house, they also financed two shiny new cars.
Sadie and Rob make a lot of money, but they spend every cent of it.
Friend, there’s an important lesson to be learned here, and it’s probably the best financial advice you’ll ever receive: Even if you make all the money in the world, you won’t become financially secure if you don’t know how to manage it.
Sadie and Rob likely bring in well over six figures per year, but they’re broke. It isn’t a matter of making more money. Rather, it’s about being able to hold onto the money you do make.
That right there is why people like Caroline are able to create a financially-secure life on a smaller household income. They learned a long time ago that it makes good financial sense to spend less than they earn. Now, they get to reap the rewards of that wisdom.
How you can keep more of the money you earn
If you’d like to keep more of the money you earn, I highly recommend you do three things: educate yourself, evaluate your finances, and eliminate unnecessary spending. Let’s take a closer look at each one real quick.
The Total Money Makeover will teach you how to take control of your finances while The Richest Man in Babylon will teach you important financial principles and wisdom. They’re both excellent books!
Evaluate Your Finances
Take a step back to evaluate your finances. Do you know where your money goes each month?
If you don’t have a clear plan for your money, it will disappear right before your eyes. A budget will help you decide up front where you’ll spend your money, so you should definitely create a budget every single month before the month begins. This post tells you how to do that:
Eliminate Unnecessary Spending
Look for some new ways to save money. Often, several small adjustments add up to big savings. This post lists some of my favorite ways to save money, so you might find a few ideas in there that will help you reign in your spending:
These three actions combined (reading The Total Money Makeover and The Richest Man in Babylon, creating a budget, and actively finding new ways to save money) will help you keep more of the money you earn rather than spending it all.
Wrapping It Up
The best financial advice I ever received came from my mom when she told me that it doesn’t matter how much money you make; it only matters how much money you can keep.
Start looking at the people around you to see if you can see this principle in action. Now that you’re aware of it, I bet you’ll see examples of people like Caroline and Sadie everywhere. I surely do!
While you’re observing other people, turn your focus inward to your own financial habits. Are you more like Caroline or Sadie? Who do you want to be like?
If you want to be more like Caroline, be sure to follow the three steps I mentioned above. All you have to do is educate yourself, evaluate your finances, and eliminate unnecessary spending. You’ll be glad you did!
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Use the Cash Envelope System (and why you should!)
- The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made Trying to Save Money
- How We Cut Our Spending to Maximize Our Student Loan Payments
- 4 Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund
- How to Build an Emergency Fund: 3 Solid Strategies to Get You There Quickly
- How to Know Which Financial Advice to Follow
- Want to take Control of Your Finances? Dave Ramsey Can Help
What’s the best financial advice you ever received? Or maybe you’d like to share the worst financial advice you ever received! I’d love to read about it in the comments.
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