Financially speaking, America is in big trouble! Most people have a mountain of debt, from their credit cards,mortgages, car payments, education loans and more. There are all kinds of reasons for this debt, but playing the blame game won’t do you any good. Instead, coming up with real solutions to overcome this debt, take control of your finances and get on the road to financial freedom is the key.
This April is National Financial Literacy month, and whether your finances are in order or not, it’s a good reminder for everyone to not only understand the basics of money, but to think about how to acquire more.
Here are some simple things everyone can do to take control of their financial situation.
Take Control of Your Finances With These Tips
1. Re-Think Your Work Ethic
Having grown up in Iran and emigrating to the United States, it fascinates me the work ethic that most Americans have. The work day is seen as something that starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. My dad would leave very early in the morning and come home very late at night, and the only day I would see him was on Friday, the one day he was off from work.
When you see Middle Easterners coming over to America or other Western countries and having so much success, it’s because of this amazing work ethic. They’re used to working six days a week and their philosophy is, “just give us freedom to work and we’ll be fine”.
2. Focus on New Ways to Earn Money
Americans seem so focused on saving money. If you’re not earning enough money, how can you save any money? If you’re serious about getting ahead, start a side business learning to cut hair, selling jewelry or iPhone cases, cleaning houses or whatever. It doesn’t matter what. Just start a business! With the opportunities presented by today’s technology, it isn’t that hard to do.
The next time you’re inclined to complain about not having enough money, really ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to make more.
Don’t be afraid to start a business, either. While it’s true that many small businesses fail, sometimes you just have to take the leap. Being successful in business can lead to a world of riches and opportunity.
3. Ignore the Joneses
We all know the expression, but the best advice is to ignore the Joneses altogether and live your own life.
Get rid of the things you really don’t need. Cancel your cable TV. Stop drinking soda. Cut out Starbucks. Do you really need a landline these days?
Only spend money on the basic essentials and don’t think of buying the extras until you have enough money than you know what to do with.
4. Become a Smarter Shopper
Make a promise to never pay retail for something and become a better buyer using websites like Overstock, Craigslist and eBay. Thanks to the Internet, getting a deal on items has become more commonplace. When you need to make a purchase, shop around. That savings will start to add up after a while.
5. Expect More
Do you believe you can make one-million dollars? People usually make the amount of money they feel they are worth, and most people sell themselves short. If you have a high self-image, you will create a world for yourself that meets that self-image.
Stop bringing yourself down and start building yourself up. Set your expectations high. Tell yourself you’re going to make $500,000 this year. You might not actually make that much, but you’ll be in the right frame of mind to start thinking like a success.
6. Get Thick on Cash
The notion that the American Dream is linked to buying a home is ridiculous. About 90 percent of middle-class America buys too early.
When you have three years of your mortgage payment saved in cash, then you can buy a house. It’s much better to have liquidity. Cash gives you freedom. Get thick with cash before you think about major mortgage debt.
7. The Right Balance of Urgency and Patience
Have patience while choosing what to do to make your money. Wealthy people typically choose one industry and become the best at it, and this can take time.
Act with urgency because people think they have a lot of time when they really don’t.
Finding the right balance of urgency and patience will help put you on the road to financial freedom.
As Financial Literacy Month approaches, make a commitment to get your financial house in order. Making small changes in your lifestyle and spending habits, while looking for new ways to earn more money will change your life.
Patrick Bet-David is an entrepreneur, author and self-made success who emigrated from war-torn Iran to the U.S. and has made financial literacy his personal crusade. He came to America with nothing and built a financial services marketing empire, the PHP Agency. He is author of The Next Perfect Storm and Doing The Impossible.
Photo by Andres Rueda