How to improve your personal and professional money management skills
Managing your money can be a difficult task, but not managing and struggling to get by can and is a lot more difficult than just managing it from the start.
We all get distracted by the things we want and things we think we need. This is human and it is a constant struggle to not fall into these traps. We are bombarded daily by this. Movies, TV shows, Facebook ads and well, even this article will have ads and affiliate links that will try to get you to spend your money.
In this article, I will explore some points in a financial aspect with personal examples from my own experience and how to avoid some common financial mistakes people make. This article is mainly focused on personal and small business finance management that you can apply to your daily life.
I like examples and feel it is an amazing tool for learning and easier to understand. I have composed a bunch of hypothetical and real-world examples to make it easier to understand and learn from. This is the main goal for this article, for people to learn from and help improve the day to day financial life.
Most common money traps and how to avoid them
- Impulse spending
- Unnecessary items/ spending
- Things you think you need
- Influenced Items
Secondly, I will briefly go over things that are good long term investments and also some traps you could find yourself in.
Thirdly I will advise on how to start your own small business and how to run it in a financial aspect. This advice can also apply to any small business so feel free to read on even if you are involved in another type of business or niche.
Finally, I will give some tips and tricks on how I spend and save money. Things I apply to my daily life
How to avoid impulse spending
Impulse spending is that little voice in your head. That voice that temps you around every corner. Telling you “It’s only 99 cents”. We all get this daily and big corporations know this and they take advantage of it.
For example, when you’re at the checkout in a store, all those small items such as gum, chocolates and beverages are there ready to be snatched up. You are more likely to purchase such small items after a few hours of shopping and having to decide between what to buy and what not to. This is due to decision fatigue.
Another way stores get you to spend without thinking. That pesky two for a certain price, for example, A single item can cost, say, $5 and there is a special where 2 items are $9. This resulting in you spending an extra $4, I’m not saying this is bad I am also guilty of buying in this way. But this should also be met with caution. If the item in question is something you use every day, maybe it is a snack you love and would anyway buy two of. I would say go ahead buy it, but where, let’s say it’s something you rarely use maybe once a month, then I would say rather just buy a single item and avoid the risk of it spoiling and at the end of the day you have to throw it away.
Impulse spending can also take the form of things that are on “sale”. I put the sale in quote marks because things usually on sale aren’t actually on sale. Stores just slap a sale sign on to items to give you a sense of the items is actually worth more and if you purchase it right now you are getting a deal. Whereas you are in fact spending money you might not even have (buying on credit).
Some other unethical practices by stores, which you should watch out for, are where they increase the price maybe by 10% and then discount it 10% so you are tricked into thinking it is on special whereas it is not.
The biggest culprits of tricking us into impulse spending, in my opinion, are items, physical things, novelty things, for example, a novelty looking Bluetooth speaker that is very cheap. You might think “this is so cute” and purchase it, but think what is going to happen to it, you are maybe going to use it once or twice, and at the end of the day it is going to lay there somewhere in a box to be forgotten about and never to be used again. You essentially just bought clutter to fill your house or apartment. This takes a lot of self-discipline to avoid.
So before you make any purchases, especially “Big Ticket Items”, do your research on the product. There are a lot of people out there trying to scam people out of their hard-earned money. Always be cautious of these practices.
Unnecessary Items/ spending
Unnecessary items, where to start. This is also related a lot to impulse spending, but with a bit more to it. The term unnecessary implies things we do not need. I will share my opinions on what are I deem to be unnecessary.
Please note these are my opinions and this might differ from person to person.
Firstly where I speak of impulse spending it goes without saying those items are unnecessary and should be avoided.
You should also try not to spend too much on items on special or in general. This reminds me of early 2020 when the pandemic was starting to hit the news. Everyone, for some reason, was buying toilet paper like crazy. It got me thinking about how much does a person or family need? They obviously bought a lot more than what was needed. Now a couple of months later they still most likely have to buy toilet paper again. This could be for several reasons. Just from the top one my head, say it got wet and mouldy or rats made a nest in it because of being stored away. That is wasted money without a bought. This in turn was unnecessary, not just in a financial aspect, but also in a human one. Because they left some people without proper necessities in a time of need.
This lesson can be applied to anything buying too much coffee, treats, produce. Remember everything has an expiry date and having to throw something away because of it rotting or has gone bad is always an unnecessary waste.
Some other unnecessary spending can be on extended warranties for appliances. Yes, you can argue what if it breaks in that time? Well, appliances are designed to outlast their warranties, for example, say you get 1 year warranty and 2 years extended that appliance is designed to last you 3 years, also if there is a problem with the item it usually would appear in the first year of its life. This is up to your discretion. Personally, I wouldn’t take an extended warranty.
An easy trap to fall into that has personally happened to me and I have seen it happen to others also, is going to a store and buying or spending more than you initially came to spend or buy. I remember when buying my first TV I was excited, young and a bit naïve. I went to the store with the idea of only spending a certain amount and as I was looking through all my options I saw this brand new TV with all the bonuses, 4k smart and whatnot. I ended up spending about 25% more than what I originally intended to spend (and yes, it was on special).
As the years passed I wanted to buy another TV for our room and I measured the wall and decided on a TV beforehand. When I got to the store I was yet again tempted by the latest and greatest OLED and all that great stuff, but this time I stood strong and only got what I wanted nothing more nothing less, and I’m very satisfied with my purchase.
This is very hard to avoid falling into this trap of overspending, but it is something to always keep in mind when making purchases of any type, even when starting a small business don’t go out and break the bank by buying state-of-the-art equipment where you only really need the basics. Overspending can result in an early failure of the business because of it not turning a profit due to high loan payments or if it is slow to get on its feet and just completely unable to pay loans or employees.
Wants and things you think you need
Wants and things you think you need, go together even though our perspective might be different. As the title states things, you think you need is basically wants but you don’t notice it yet. I will explore this topic here with you so you can maybe see in your own life what is actually and want and a need. Even for a salon/small business, you can figure out what you need for your salon/ small business and what you just think you need.
Yes, I understand in actual fact you only “need” a few things to survive like water, food, sleep, and to relieve ourselves. I’m not here to talk about our basic needs as a human, I’m also not here to say “no all wants are bad and you need to avoid it”. We as humans have passions, care about things and people we crave the sensation of joy. Buying things you want is very important in life because it can bring joy and joy is a need in life. I’m here to help you have a clearer and more informed decision-making process when purchasing.
Exploring with example
Let’s begin with an example. You are starting a small book store. Now you have a certain amount of capital at your disposal. Start by making a checklist of what you need.
- Product/ Service
- Most important is product/ service because that is actually what you provide to your customers or clients.
- This is to how to get your product/ service to the general public.
If you think about it this is the basis of what you need for a small store. It will cost you minimal things for example amazon started by just being a small online book store and grew into this giant today. You can even sell your product on amazon or stores like it.
You don’t “need” a storefront, a bunch of novelty items or signed copies by the author. These are all wants for this hypothetical example. Obliviously every type of store and business is different and this is up to you to explore your own niche or business. I won’t go into all possible examples.
If you want a storefront and want to sell signed copies then go for it. If it makes you happy then why not, just remember don’t go full passion into a business, do your research and make a hundred times sure about each next step. Nothing in life is a guarantee.
When buying things you want this mind-set of what you need from this product must always be considered. For example, buying a TV, what do you need from it? For me it was: must be able to be wall-mounted, must be a smart TV with Netflix on it, and can’t be more than 43” because that was the space available for me. Now I have a checklist of the “needs” I have for my want, this helps me make a more informed decision.
If you apply this to your daily life/ business you will always make the best informed and best-fitting decision for your specific situation. Just don’t get distracted by temptations and allowing them to alter your final decision, especially last minute.
You might be thinking, what has influenced the item? Well, I would call this anything someone famous uses to sell it to the general public.
An example can be a YouTuber that you like and they talk about a new thing they recommend or showing of equipment they personally use. This can edge you to purchasing something that might be over-priced or not as good as alternatives and I’m not talking about paid promotion items, that falls into the realm of advertising.
You should also never trust a single review on an item because reviews can be bought or someone might say something is better than it actually is just to sell more of them to get commotion on it.
Another practice that most overlook and might not even notice, is product placements, this is when in a movie or show use or talk about something that the character uses or it can be as subtle as just being in the background of a movie or show. This gives us a sense of “if the character uses it, it must be good enough for me”. Whereas it is a complete lie, the character is made up and so are their interests and likes.
When starting a small business it is easy to fall into traps like these where you might look at others and what they did to get started. You must always remember not everyone and every situation is the same always make extra sure when making decisions, especially when it comes to your future or your livelihood.
Big Ticket Items
Big-ticket items I would say are big investments you make for example a car, house or a business. These are what bring most people down and into debt. I will explore this topic with my point of views and advise you on how to avoid falling into crippling debt.
I am not a real estate agent or any sort of investment-related expert these are all my opinions based on my personal experience and research. When considering investing or making life-changing decisions always consider them carefully and consult an expert personally.
We all need a place to stay, means of transport and a way of making a living. But we should never live out of our means. We as humans like to have the best, the most luxurious car, the prettiest house and the fanciest store.
Property can be an excellent investment, but there are a couple of factors to consider before buying, getting a mortgage or a loan for the property.
Firstly let’s look at different types of property. Industrial, commercial, agriculture and residential, say you are looking to buy a house; you won’t go and buy an old factory to live in, this is pretty obvious.
Something to consider pretty closely when buying or renting any property for a store or business is what the purpose of this store or business is? And some of it isn’t that obvious at first.
For example, you won’t sell seashells next to the sea. This is a very shallow example but can be used as a base when buying or renting any property for a store. Here we are looking at the demand of what you have to offer where the demand for seashells won’t be so high right next to the ocean whereas to let’s say 300km away from the ocean.
Another factor to consider when starting a business is the location. You won’t go buy a farm and open a sea shell selling business there and hope to make any money, but you also won’t go buy a storefront and hope to farm there. This is also a very basic and obvious example, but it gets the point across.
Always consider your available market and potential clients when starting any business of any sort. An easy way is to check for other business in your area with a similar niche. Look at how well they are doing and how many of them are there. You also don’t want to enter a market that is oversaturated with competition leaving you in turn with a very small client base.
If you want to find out more about your competition go visit their stores and check it out, go and pose as a client and see where you can maybe one-up them in a way. Always remember to stay relevant to the times by doing your research regularly and stay up-to-date with the latest trends.
The dictionary describes assets as “a useful or valuable thing or person.” This is anything ranging from a car to an employee.
Different assets have different values. It is up to you and your situation to determine the value of an asset to you or your business. For example, a hard-working employee with extensive knowledge of a trade is a higher value asset than an employee who loafs most of the day and shows no interest in his or her work. The same can be said for an object in your personal life or a professional one.
A vehicle is a prime example. If you buy a car with the only purpose of it is to get you from point A to B then a cheaper and more reliable car will be a more valued asset than a car that is not cheap or reliable. Then if your purpose is to win a car shows the more expensive one of a kind car is a more valued asset than a generic car.
I can go on and on with thousands of examples, but the point of this is all situations are different and require a different approach. It is up to you to determine this approach and make the correct decisions related to your situation.
As I said I’m no expert investor and my knowledge is quite limited on this topic, so I won’t go into depth with this subject. Here are some books on amazon that you might find useful on this topic.
There are also books here on the other topics I have briefly covered like property investing and more. These aren’t a necessity for opening your own business. They are just here if you are interested in the topic and want to expand your knowledge on it.
Opening your own small business
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this article where I give you our first-hand experience on opening your own business and how to make it do well and improve over time. This isn’t a 100% generate for a successful business, but more of a personal experience one mistakes we made and advice that may help you bring your business to success.
I will mainly focus on my wife’s nail salon because that is what she started and has grown quite exponentially over the past years and has even decided to start this blog to help all nail techs out there to grow in their skills and their business, but this advice can be applied to all small businesses to help them grow.
It goes without saying you first have to have a passion for what you are doing, otherwise you will feel like every day is just a chore and you will lose interest and will probably end up giving up on it and having nothing to show for the time and money you spent on it.
Quality is the key to build a strong and long-lasting foundation for any business. Yes, you can cheap out and push more products or a faster service and get more money in the short run, but it will come back to bite you in the long run.
Think of it in the literal sense of building a building, having a strong foundation or a mediocre one is fine for a small, dull and mundane house. Where a large, sturdy and resilient building will stand, you will definitely need a very strong foundation. The same goes for a business if you don’t build it from the start with planning for the future and providing a top-notch product and customer care. All the shortcuts and dispassionate effort will eventually let your business implode itself.
I highly recommend against providing a low-quality product. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but in my personal opinion, the advantages of providing high quality is a lot more beneficial than the advantages of low quality. I will go over some ways you can approach providing a better quality service or product when starting.
Setting everything from the start.
Setting prices and a standard from the start has some pros and cons. For example, you being a new face in whatever your niche is, you will have to get clients and some people will be hesitant to use you or purchase by you because you might have a higher price than most of your established competitors.
This can result in you having a slower than normal growth, but you might not lose out on what you paid for the product from your supplier, or have a feeling that you are working too hard for what you are asking. This approach is very situational especially if you have rent to pay or other overheads then you won’t want to sit around and wait for customers or clients.
I would recommend this if you aren’t in a hurry to build your business and if you don’t have any overhead or you don’t need to buy products in bulk.
More competitive approach.
This approach is the opposite of the first approach and can also be very situational. Setting your prices lower or matching your competitors, but maintaining a higher quality product or service can give you than boost you need when starting a business, growing your client base at a much faster rate.
You will get to a point where you have to increase prices and this can be demoralizing or awkward when telling clients about the price increase. Resulting in where some might feel annoyed or betrayed and not return. By this time you will probably have built a loyal client or customer base that has come to recognize your standard and quality as the norm and would not settle for less.
Not to worry you will continue to get new clients through word of mouth, which is the best way of getting new customers in the first place.
This approach I will say is the best if you have a skill which you are very good at or the best in your area. You will in turn automatically provide a better product or service and have the same expenses as your competitors. Where later on your time will be worth more and you can charge a higher fee.
The middle approach.
In this approach, it is where you set up your business and set the prices and quality to that of your competitors or what the market value is at the moment. Basically what the title implies, meeting the two above mentioned approaches in the middle.
I would say this approach is best if you don’t have a lot of competitors in your area or any at all. Just be careful not to overprice yourself when there isn’t a lot of competition. If you are overpriced this gives the perfect opportunity for someone to come along and steal your clients or customers from you. Where you did all the work getting people to know your service or product just for someone to come along and swoop it all out underneath your feet.
Customer care is very important for any business big or small. Having a good relationship with clients or customers can make or break you. You want your customers to feel like you are their friend and you have their best intentions in mind, where you should and this comes back to providing a quality product or service, you must also not think of your customers too much as being your friends. This can result in you giving away discounts or products too often and leaving you to pick up the cost.
Always try your best to be friendly no matter what mood you are in and if you have difficult customers let them down easy and not fight with them, rather just agree and tell them, sorry you can’t help them with their situation. As they say “it’s only business, nothing personal” that is something to always remember when dealing with customers.
Most small business won’t really have employees, so I won’t go too deep into the subject, but if quality is the foundation of a business employees are the backbone of a business. Always remember to treat them with respect and be a leader not by force rather by example. If you aren’t willing to work late hours don’t expect your employees to be willing. They more often don’t share the same enthusiasm or incentives as you.
The moral is also very important when it comes to people, a happy worker is a hard worker. You should always consider your employee’s needs in reasonable aspects.
Starting and what you need.
What you need to start your small business can be overwhelming at the start, but as soon as you get going and you get into it, it will start to get easier. Rather than going over it myself, I found this great comprehensive guide to help you when starting your business. An easy ten-step guide for starting your own business, it goes over everything you would need from picking a name to registering for taxes. Visit the page if you are considering starting your own business.
Advice and tips on how to save and manage your finances.
Personal finance is extremely important and can carry on to your professional life. Having high discipline and thinking before making any purchase will help you.
A lot of people say you should save 25% of your income and invest in this stock and that stock. Everyone has an opinion, rightfully so, and this is all my opinion. People tend to forget how life was in their past and only think what they do today is relative. For example, someone telling you to invest in this stock or save this amount of your salary. They are usually speaking in terms of them now in the present and what they are doing now with their money. If you spoke to that same person a couple of years ago, they might have had a different opinion on the matter.
That is why finance and management of your finance personally or professionally depend on the person on business. Never look at another person and compare their successes to your own, always look at yourself and what you are doing and how you can improve yourself. I’m also not saying to neglect what others are doing and never apply it to yourself; there is an opportunity to learn every day in whatever you do. Always be awake and aware and you will be surprised by how much you can learn just by observing and asking questions. Be critical in what you are told or read, go and do your own research on the matter and come to an informed decision, hopefully after reading this article it will be easier to achieve it.
How to save money
How I save money is giving myself the illusion of not having as much as I have. I do this by having it spread out over a few bank accounts. I have three cards, a cheque/check, credit and savings/debit. But I have three savings accounts by two different banks where two of the three accounts I don’t have any cards for them. This makes it harder to spend the money and easier to forget about.
You might be wondering why then so many accounts and not just have you two cheque/check and savings. Well, this is where I told you about creating the illusion of not having as much as you have. We all know the saying “don’t keep your eggs in one basket” well this sort of applies here, when I go through the process of thinking or considering to make a purchase, especially more pricey items. The fact that it looks like I have less than what I actually have, will dissuade me easier from making impulse purchases.
It is in general not a smart idea to just have one bank account I would say. It makes it a lot easier to waste your money one things you don’t need and leaves you no place to save any money. Your bank probably has a lot of different types of savings accounts that you can contact them about. Helping you invest or save money for the future or when you need it. Just consider all options carefully and how they will fit into your life and not that of anyone else because something that may work for others might not work for you.
How to spend money more wisely
Say you have a few dollars, euro, yen or whatever currency your country works with and you walk into a store with the idea of buying a single item. You should go into that store with the mind-set of only purchasing the item you came for not with the idea of “I have this amount left. What else can I buy with the change?” it might seem trivial, but it is a way to train yourself to have more discipline in your financial life.
Having a budget goes without saying so I won’t go too deep into it, but try to have a constant budget every month don’t increase it every time you get some overtime or a bonus, stay on a fixed budget month to month and try saving as much as possible.
Also, a good way to save some extra money when spending, especially when going grocery shopping it rounding purchases to the highest ten, five or one depending you’re your currency. For example, if an item is $7.99 round it off to a 10 or even a 9 and continues to do this while shopping, you can even do this to every second or third item, and you will be surprised at how much you can save.
At the risk of sounding like a parrot, I have to emphasise it when making a purchase you must always think before making it. Especially for hobbies, it is easy to sink a ton of money into something you like and might not even use it or be practical. If you have space and money, by all means, waste some of it on what you like, because if it makes you happy then why not happiness is the most important thing in life. Just remember to not go over your budget.
I don’t want you taking away from this article that you have to do this and live in a certain way. I also make mistakes and fall into traps and overspend some times. We are all humans and we can never be perfect we won’t always make the right choices in life and that is ok. Don’t ever be too hard on yourself and try to learn from your, or even other’s past mistakes.
There are a lot of other books and documentaries that will help you with starting your own business that can help you out such as this listed on amazon. If you also rather prefer to watch documentaries I recommend “The Entrepreneurs” and a ton more on amazon video or sign up for audible where there are thousands of audiobooks on all kinds of topics from business to personal finance.