I have often been told that I am good at managing money. I am seen as the responsible one by most of my close friends, and with my partner, I am the one who handles the bills and keeps tabs on our finances. But truth be told, I am just so-so when it comes to dealing with hard- earned cash and I know that for me there is room to grow. Overall, however, I am better than most people in my circle because in reality they just aren’t very interested. Sure, they know they should care but they also know that life is short and they really don’t want to have to think about it.
That’s the first thing about money and budgets: you have to care just a little to make it work. You have to follow the golden rule: live within your means and, you have to be honest with who you are.
I am in the “good with money” category not because I hold some kind of mythical secret but because of my personality. I like to keep track of things and this includes every transaction I make. I don’t indulge in many of the excesses that can sometimes lead to financial demise. I rarely drink and I don’t smoke. I have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude when it comes to live events, whether it be a concert or my home team, The Raptors, playing so I forgo buying tickets. I like clothes but hate clothes shopping, and while a good “do” makes me feel great, carving out time to get to the hairdresser is just too much of a hassle. Bring me to a hardware or home-furnishings store, however, and all bets are off.
My weakness is my home. I have overspent in that area more than I can count. Had I not put in all the extras when renovating my family’s house, I am certain that we would have paid off our mortgage by now. Yet the list never really shrinks — there will always be something I think we should change or update. The silver lining is that as much as I love a beautiful coffee table, I thrive on having a decent credit score, therefore, I balance my splurges by buying things on sale or taking the display model when I can. I find ways to save money for my guilty pleasures instead of opting for a monthly-payment plan because, although I could literally live at Crate and Barrel, I don’t want my recent finds to be carted away because I can’t make the payments. When we opted to renovate our basement, I scoured every source for rebates and government incentives, shaving thousands off what was still a costly endeavour. Getting those rebate cheques in the mail, however, made it slightly more palatable.
Knowing what I can and can’t do also goes a long way. My partner and I are fairly handy and quite enjoy getting our hands dirty, so buying a damaged item that’s been marked down is a no-brainer. If I think we can make something for a fraction off the retail price then that’s what our weekend is spent doing.
If doing it yourself is not you, however, don’t follow my lead in that area; it will end up costing you more money and more headaches in the long run. That’s why knowing who you are is really important. You have to know what will work for you, rather than trying to follow what works for others.
While many people swear by coupons, they just aren’t my thing. I often loose them in the pit I call my purse, causing me more trouble than they’re worth. Give me an app for my phone, on the other hand, and I’ll scroll and click my way through. Whether it’s Ebates, Air Miles or PC Optimum Points, I love racking up as much incentives as I can. I hunt for discounts online. I network and barter for better deals and I give myself 48 hours after spotting an expensive purchase before making the final decision to buy it, because impulse shopping is another of those slippery slopes that can take you to a very dark place very fast. I also check the return policy of the places I patronize, ensuring that if I change my mind, I can take back an item and receive a full refund on my purchase.
Perhaps it’s not incentives that drive you to change your ways but someone cheering you on that works for you. We Thrive Events upcoming coaching event on January 30, 2019 has you covered, with a financial planner on hand to give you tips, tricks and sage advice that can help you get back in the black, and/or help you to fully understand exactly where your money is going.
As women, it is important to understand money, investments and everything in between. Whether it is through networking, financial workshops or online sites, finding the right support and the information that clicks for you can be instrumental in helping you get to where you need to be. If you are a spender, you may never completely embrace the saver’s mindset, but you can employ strategies to keep things in control. Take it one step at a time, reach out to other women who can help and watch how small changes can make a big difference.