If you could just win the lottery, all your problems would be solved, right?
Maybe so, but the path to financial security is much less glamorous and far more practical than that.
Michael Finley, a self-made millionaire and author of the blog, TheCrazyManInThePinkWig.com, says finding lasting financial peace is not a pipe dream for most people – it’s a doable, realistic goal that can be reached by taking a few meaningful steps.
“You don’t have to be extraordinary in any of the headline-grabbing ways. What you need is the self-awareness to avoid wasting money on short-term, retail-priced happiness,” Finley said.
You’ll just have to forget probably everything you’ve ever learned about what is important in life and rethink much of what society takes for granted.
He shares some common mistakes people make that prevent them from living a financially secure life and keep them living broke.
Here are 10 things to avoid if you ever want financial peace of mind.
• Making appearances your top priority. Many people try to appear wealthy by buying a lot of stuff and trying to look like the people they see on TV and in advertisements.
But having new things is not what wealth looks like. Spending money on fleeting status symbols is no way to build wealth or happiness.
• Working for the weekend. People who work jobs they hate often find themselves using their money trying to buy happiness. Instead, find work that fulfills you. After all, if you like your job, you’ll never have to “work” a day in your life.
• Playing the victim. Blaming others is how misguided people rationalize bad habits and poor decisions.
• Living for today. There’s nothing wrong with being in the moment. But behaving as if there’s no tomorrow is a surefire way to make your life miserable. Tomorrow will almost certainly come, often bringing unforeseen emergencies with it. It’s hard to be at peace when you’re worrying about how to pay for an unexpected car repair.
• Not pursuing lifelong learning. Education shouldn’t end once you’ve graduated from school.
“Just about any expert will tell you that the most reliable way out of poverty is education,” Finley said.
The library is your friend.
• Gambling. Pinning your dreams of financial security on playing the lottery, buying scratch-offs or going to the casino is like pinning your hopes for a long, healthy life on a carton of cigarettes.
• Paying credit card interest. If you charge up your credit cards and then make the minimum payment, you might as well be having nightly backyard bonfires using cash as kindling. If you can’t afford to pay for something in cash, you definitely can’t afford to pay for it with a credit card.
• Blowing money because you “deserve it.” That’s like saying you don’t deserve financial security. We are especially tempted to squander windfalls such as gifts, inheritances and income tax refunds because they seem like “free money.” But putting that money to work in investments or savings can be far more rewarding.
• Buying an expensive engagement ring and having a huge wedding. What do either of these things have to do with committing to the person you love for eternity?
• Making celebrities your role models. Half the time, even they can’t afford the lifestyles they’re living.