I sometimes wonder what it would be like if everyone received a yearly grade on their financial aptitude. And not just to prove you know the material, but a grade to signify how well you’re putting into practice all of the lessons, skills, and strategies that are appropriate. Some people might receive an A. Others a B, C, or D. And if you’re one of the unfortunate to receive an F….well, big lifestyle changes better be in order.
It’d be like going to the doctor and getting your yearly check-up. But instead of asking, “do you get regular exercise”, the question may be “how much are you contributing to your 401(k) this year?” Or it could be “let’s check the projected value of your nest egg at retirement age.” Instead of a general health check-up, it would be a financial health check-up.
Why does it matter?
One of the reasons I started down my own “financial path” was because of some key observations I made in college. I read countless stories and saw several examples of how “normal” financial dealings ended up for most people: No savings, no plan, retirement delayed or not even possible at all.
After a lifetime of working, how could you end up with nothing? How could so many people be making these mistakes? Why couldn’t they recognize the warning signs earlier? Or take steps to fix things? Most importantly to my own situation, how could I avoid being one of them?
It was at this point I made a decision to avoid their footsteps. I learned that I did not want to follow the traditional path of those around me. Going back to my financial health and grading example for a minute, if all these other people were getting C’s, D’s, and F’s…..what could I do to get an A?
I would like to think in the time since college, I’m made great strides forward. I contribute to my Roth IRA and 401(k) retirement accounts. So does my wife. We budget our money each month, to ensure we can save according to our goals, spend appropriately, and not run out!
Financial health is incredibly important to us. Just as we exercise to stay healthy, we try and manage our financial lives in a way to maximize our financial health. People who exercise for their general health will tell you how good it feels after a workout. Well the same thing is true when you’re managing your finances appropriately. You feel good! You have less stress! You worry less. My wife and I would attest to all of those.
So what can I do?
Jump in! Make a decision today to raise up the importance of your financial health. You could do ANY of the following the make small steps forward:
- Start learning more by reading personal finance blogs online or picking up books at the library.
- Talk with your significant other about your financial goals.
- Add up what you spend every month.
- Setup a budget.
- Pay off those credit cards.
- Increase your contribution in your company’s 401(k) retirement accounts.
- Setup a Roth IRA, if you don’t already have one.
- Look up what Roth IRA means, if you don’t already know!
- Comment on this post with your biggest worry, concern, or need. Just airing out these thoughts is a step forward!
There are so many things you could begin to do. Chances are you already know what you should be doing too! Make today the day you start to change. Make it happen! Your financial health matters, but it’s up to you to take control.