By Mike Finley
The importance of money is impressed upon most Americans as soon as we’re old enough to buy candy. But the importance of money management is an entirely different story. Think about all that we do to prepare children for the world; we fill them up with things we think are most important for doing well as adults and spend tens of thousands of dollars for higher education, but they never take a class on how to manage personal finances.
The following are your best allies — and the voices that do not have your best interests at heart — when it comes to money management:
• Your No. 1 advocate — you – It’s not simply how much money you make, it’s what you do with it. The best thing you can do right now is to educate yourself so you can make sound financial decisions. A great start is to embrace the concept of paying yourself: Put away at least 20 percent of your income for your future, which requires a lifestyle of living below your means.
• Real teachers – Most people want something from you, but some truly want to give. Identify the people you can trust, who sincerely want to educate you. Look for classes at local colleges; workshops sponsored by nonprofit organizations, and even websites geared to improving your money decisions.
• Most financial advisors – Most financial advisors, especially those employed by massive, nationwide firms, are trying to sell prepackaged financial products. Independent advisors are a better option, but if you’re financially illiterate, it can be hard to determine whether or not they have your best interests at heart.
• Advertisements – Advertisers are not just selling products and services —they’re trying to sell happiness. Nearly from the cradle, we’re exposed to advertising messages that promise we’ll be happier, better people if we purchase the products and services advertised. Learn to view advertising messages with a discriminating eye so that you purchase what you truly need — not what they tell you to need. HBM
Finley is the author of “Financial Happine$$” (www.thecrazymaninthepinkwig.com) and teaches a popular financial literacy class at the University of Northern Iowa. He donates much of his time to additional groups, including Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa and organizations serving veterans and current military personnel. HBM