fbpx

How Can ‘Financial Stability’ Be Defined?

The aims of financial management are never ‘completed’. Just like fashion, it is a perrenial and important part of the means in which we plan our lives. Things move on. Just as you wouldn’t likely wear bell-bottoms outside of a period disco event, you needn’t factor in inflation statistics from the 70s in order to manage your households – things change and the means in which we deal with those changes will also change over time.

Financial management is an active, dynamic art, because money is an active, dynamic energy – or it can be thought of as such. This means that when assessing ‘financial stability’ it’s very easy to get confused if not coming at things from a certain mindset. You may earn less one year than the previous, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing worse off financially.

So, for those just starting to grapple with their financial management, how can ‘financial stability’ be defined, and is it even something we should aim for? Moreover, how can we use this knowledge to avoid falling into difficult financial traps we would rather not have been part of? We think we have some answers to this end:

Pexels – CC0 License

Living Within Your Means

Living within your means should be considered sacred wisdom when it comes to managing your financial stability in the best sense. We all know that if we’re struggling for cash, heading out and purchasing a new car on our credit with payments we cannot hope to afford is a silly idea, no matter how many irresponsible salesmen out there may be willing to grant us that opportunity.

That being said, living within your means can become too tight, to the point where you refuse yourself the ability to pay for reliably speedy internet despite working from home all day every day. Living within your means signifies tailoring your daily living situation to you, and from that vantage point saving money as appropriate.


If you’re a bachelor living alone? Perhaps you can easily do without the most luxurious accessories such as silk-lined toilet tissue, or whatever we can exaggerate to seem silly in context. If you’re running a family household, however, purchasing high-quality school uniforms may be worth the investment, as well as a sewing machine for the inevitable repairs you will have to make. This last example shows how worthwhile, intelligent investment in the things that matter and frugality exercised through repairs both have an important place in the daily financial lifestyle of a household.

Overarching Financial Priorities

It’s worth keeping your overarching financial priorities in mind. When we measure stability, we often measure it in response to the environment around us. For example, a boat is not ‘stable’ if it’s docked on land, or at least that’s not the environment we would measure its use within. We would consider it stable if it holds stability within the ocean, in conditions we expect the design to meet. As such, financial stability can be best measured when it’s set against the overarching intent of our financial priorities.

Perhaps the most obvious and fundamental part of this would be considering your survival needs. Are you able to eat three square meals each day, and provide those to your family? Can you pay your rent? Can you purchase new shoes when you need them, or fill your vehicle up with fuel when empty? This might be considered your first financial priority.

Then we have those higher up the pyramid. Are you managing to put away some money in case of emergencies each month? How about saving to build your credit? What about potentially earning enough to settle down and be viable for a mortgage in five years time? It’s these questions that are worth asking, and can help you measure the relativity of your financial situation among many different criteria. This way you can make your budgeting decisions effectively. It could even help you use your financial stability to give grounding to someone else, such as when using a guarantor loans comparison site to help a financially needful (yet earning) relative with a cash injection.

Defending Your Finances

Defending your finances is also a part of financial stability. It can be easy to be a victim of financial fraud if you care little for where you store your documents or how you store them, and the same goes for ignoring suspicious transactions in your bank account. Learning how to shake the card reader section of an ATM can help you also find scanning devices placed by those without scruples.

There are many ways to defend your finances. From ensuring you apply adequate fingerprint protections in your mobile banking app to avoiding taking on loans with predatory pricing terms, it’s important that you have your financial health in mind at all times. This can sometimes be through defensive action, or aggressive action such as disputing an outstanding charge that has since appeared on your credit file.

Overcoming Worries

We all have our financial worries from time to time. It’s not exactly something that is inevitable, but many can find themselves somewhat lacking in their financial allowances or potential and may suffer as a result.

Overcoming those worries can often be found by direct, worthwhile action. Sometimes, you may have to work overtime or take on an extra shift depending on where you work. It can be that through using debt charities you are able to get a handle on your debt and get back to normal, contacting and consolidating creditors to the best degree.

Financial stability is not always supposed to mean having the best and strongest financial sitting, with thousands in the bank and the ability to purchase anything you want without any recourse for the consequences. Instead, it’s about doing what you can to become stronger and more stable in your financial efforts, no matter how humble a starting point you may be beginning from.

With this advice, we hope you can accurately and adequately define financial stability in the best sense possible.

Managing Your Money – Small Beginnings, Big Changes

The concept is straightforward enough, you want to save a little each month and build up a fund that will be there for you to tap into in case of an emergency or that you can grow in order to get that house renovation done, a new car or the holiday of a lifetime.

But while, yes, it seems straightforward it appears that for some of us those good intentions of saving for the not-so-distant future are hard to turn into reality. But what is it that’s holding us back? What prevents us from saving for the things in life we really want? Perhaps it’s a lack of organisation, a problem that exists around our monthly budget or the fact that we always seem to find something better to spend our money on. 

If you’re looking to make some changes in the way you manage money then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re taking a look at how you can get yourself organised in your monthly outgoings and manage to start saving for those big things in life that seem so far out of your reach just now.

Managing Your Money - Small Beginnings, Big Changes - coins growing in jars image
Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

The Dreaded Spreadsheet

You knew it would come to this, but if the idea of inputting all your incomings and outgoings into a spreadsheet bores you to tears or fills you with dread, then there are some far more user-friendly options out there to help keep track of your money.

We’re talking, of course, about apps and one of the best out there at the moment is Mint. You’ll find it helps you to set a monthly budget, see exactly where your money’s being spent and with a free sign-up, it’s far more satisfying than pouring over that Excel spreadsheet each month.

But yes, despite the more modern approach you are still tracking your finances and this is exactly where you need to start. Give yourself a long-term goal and simply spend the first two or three months getting used to tracking your money so you can figure out some of your spending patterns. You don’t need to change anything at this stage, this is the data gathering part of the process.

Analysis

When you do go back and take a look at where your money goes, you’ll begin to see some patterns emerging. Perhaps you spend the majority of your money at the beginning of the month and, what with your bills leaving at the same time, you’re left with very little spare cash for the last two weeks before payday.

You’ll also see what you’re spending your money on. That latte bought on your way to work every morning has, over three months, mounted up to quite a cost. This kind of analysis is worth going through to help you make some judgements and changes over how you ration your budget.

Finally, you’ll also be able to see all the direct debits and standing orders that are attached to your account. That insurance for a long ago expired laptop that still goes out or the expensive gym membership that never gets used, it’s a good time to make some changes and to see if there are any cancellations that might help you out. It will also give you the opportunity to shift around the dates that direct debits leave your account if that’s going to help you plan a little better.

Prioritise

Once you’ve analysed your spending, it’s time for the action part of the plan to get started. You’ll need to get to the point where you start prioritising. This might mean that you ditch the latte habit completely or set aside a budget for it where that weekly purchase becomes a once or twice a week treat instead.

You might think about dividing your budget up into several pots, including bills, essentials such as food and entertainment, including socialising and of course luxuries such as that latte.

Once you’ve found a natural rhythm for your outgoings, you’ll be in a great position to then add savings to that list.

What to Spend Your Money On

Once your savings are on their way then you’ll be able to think about what you’re saving for. We can’t recommend enough clearing your debts as a first priority. Not only will it free up your money in the long term, it will also help to improve your credit score. If you’ve been asking yourself How can improve my credit score? Then this is the very best way to make those changes.

Get those debts paid down and enjoy greater financial freedom. What you’re saving for is, of course, entirely down to you, as is the amount you’re able to put aside each month. Some experts believe in following the 50/30/20 rule where 20% of your income will go into your savings pot, 50% on the necessities and 30% on discretionary items.

If this works for you and if you have a fixed monthly income, then this can be a great method. Another equally as valid, though slightly more flexible approach is to set up a sweeper account. In this version anything that’s left in your account the day before payday or at a date you specify is swept into your savings account. It allows for those unexpected expenses, like a broken boiler and recognises that some months the savings are going to be minimal while other months there might be a lot more.

However you save and whatever you’re saving for is your choice but your active decision to begin managing money should be applauded. The difference you’ll make to your account with regular saving will seem minimal at first but you’ll be surprised at how quickly that small pot can grow. The sense of satisfaction, not to mention security you’ll feel is worth the effort of getting your accounts in order. Download an app, go through the process and add an extra layer of security to your finances.

Kids Make Great Entrepreneurs: Here’s How To Teach Them About Business And Life

If you don’t fancy the idea of your children spending all their holiday time watching TV and down the skate park, what should you get them to do? One idea that is becoming more and more popular among parents is getting kids to start their own businesses. Not only is this a good idea, given the direction that the economy is going, it’s also beneficial for helping kids develop confidence and people skills.

Here’s how to help your kids achieve their business goals.

Let Them Pursue Their Passion

Kids find it really difficult to focus on things that they aren’t interested in. This is why getting them to go to school can be such a mission: smart children hate the fact that they have to sit in rows all day, doing things which are boring.

Kids Make Great Entrepreneurs: Here's How To Teach Them About Business And Life - lemonade stand image

Flickr

If you want their new business venture to be sustainable, take a step back and ask them what sort of business they’d like to run. Kids who love animals will probably be quite happy to set up a dog-walking business or even a pet sitting business. Children who are gifted in music or acting could hold their own after school classes. The possibilities are endless.

Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, set up a worm farming business when he was a child, selling worms to passers-by at the tender age of nine. His goal was to become the number one worm farmer in the world.

Introduce The Concept Of Money Management

Because parents provide all the resources that kids needs, many children grow up with the impression that money is infinite. The reality of business soon teaches them that it is not. In fact, it shows that it is often very hard to come by. They’ll soon find out that most companies have to go through lenders, like Colbeck, in order to make ends meet, especially for the first few months and years. Teenagers, for instance, can do things like calculate profit and loss, and how much they would have to repay to a lender every month at a given interest rate. Younger children can practice things like counting up how much money they have in the till and what they’d need to spend to expand their business.

If your children are particularly adept, you could even hold your own investor meeting, where members of the community come to hear the business pitch and commit small sums of money if they like the idea. This will get children used to the fact that they have to offer value to investors in order to receive money in return.

Teach Them About Customer Service

Being able to listen and communicate with people is an essential entrepreneurial skill. It’s what forms the building blocks of all entrepreneurial careers. One of the key skills children need to learn is how their business idea can actually benefit other people. Why do people want to have somebody sit their dog, for instance? Getting children to understand that people want problems to be solved (like the fact that they are worried what their dog will do to the house if it gets distressed while they are out) is the key to giving them good “business sense.”

Learn It To Earn It! Money Management For All Ages

financial-fairy-tales-baby-with-money

flickr

It is astounding that with the amount of focus that we place on money, as a society, that money management is not taught in all schools. When we look back on our youth, we never thought of money as important at all. In my 30’s I look back at just ten years ago and didn’t view money as all that important! As the magical overdraft would help me get my cash from the machine and the credit card as free money. In hindsight, this was a bad attitude to have. As I now have mounting debt that I could do without. The pressure to do more grown up things becomes more apparent. Buying a house, planning a wedding, the increase in fuel costs. These are all things that are tagged with the notion of being an adult. The shock of money responsibility just seemed to be slammed down in front of you as soon as you left university or gained full-time employment. So is there a way to help bridge the gap between a child and adult when it comes to money management?

Toddlers
When it comes to teaching toddlers the value of money, the best approach is to use a visual stimulus. The typical method is to use a piggy bank, which is an excellent idea in theory, but the child can’t see the money amounting. So the fruits of their labors go unnoticed. Seeing a jar fill up with coins and talking to them about how much more they’ve got than yesterday is a nice way to reinforce the idea of saving.

Young Children (8 and over)
The best method for young children and tweens is to let them make decisions about their choices in terms of what to buy. For example, if they wanted two items but can only afford to buy one, they need to make the decision. If they are unhappy with the outcome, then they have made their bed and must lie in it.

They also need to learn at this age that money is earned, not just given out. A simple method of teaching this is to reward them for doing household chores. Based on the task, you can give them more or less money. That way, the concept of pay grades is also introduced.

financial-fairy-tales-sack-of-money

image from Flickr.com

Teenagers
If you have been able to reinforce some of the previous values at certain stages of their life, then helping them get a bank account is the next logical step. Having their own bank account that they can withdraw money from and are solely responsible for will teach them how to manage their money. If your child hasn’t got a bank account yet, you can apply for new bank account here now. And, as a consequence, if they run out of financial resources, they would need to get a job. That marks their first foray into adulthood.

All ages have their own attitude towards money. So in teaching them the value of it on a level that they can understand, whether by visual stimulus or making sure they know the repercussions of overspending, it will go a long way to instilling the values and responsibility of money management.

Useful Tips For Financial Success From Parents To Their Kids

Management of finance is an important aspect of one’s life and as parents, you should make sure that your child starts learning about it from a very young age. Listed below are a few steps that you can take to teach ways of effective financial planning to your children.

Financial success - teaching your child about money image

1) Use the piggy bank method

It is perhaps the most interesting way by which your child learns about money management. There is no point in telling him about the usefulness of saving money, or about the ill-effects of overspending when he is too young, for instance 2 to 5 years old. Therefore, use the piggy bank. Give him a dollar or two each day and ask him to deposit it in the bank. As he is rewarded with a large sum of money at the end of the month or so, he automatically will be inclined towards saving more for the coming days. Therefore, the first lesson of financial planning, i.e., the “usefulness of saving” is learnt.

2) Set Financial Goals for him

As your child grows a little older, say 7 or 8 years old, start setting short-term financial goals for him. Continue giving him a certain amount of pocket money and ask him to save up for an expensive toy or a short holiday trip that he wants. In case of the holiday trip, you can ask him to save enough money so that he can sponsor the lunch at one of the most well-known restaurants of the place you are visiting. Setting short-term financial goals from a young age always helps. In this manner, your child is slowly prepared to set long-term financial goals (like higher education) and save money accordingly.

3) Show Them the Way

Only setting monetary goals and asking your child to work on them will not be sufficient. You have to guide him as well. For instance, if you are asking him to save up for a bicycle, keep dropping hints on how he can cut down on his expenses. Ask him to cover the way to school on foot (if he can) instead of taking a cab. He does not really have to live on abstinence. However, you can definitely advise him to cut down on his entertainment costs, or his expenses on food (keeping in view that it does not harm his health) until he buys the bicycle.

4) Prioritization of goals

When your child reaches his teen, you should gradually start teaching him about the importance of prioritizing his goals. He might have got whatever he wanted as a little child but now is the time to bring about a change in his thinking. In future, there will be times when he will have to make grave choices as far as fulfilling his own wishes are concerned, for instance between an expensive car and an equally exclusive holiday trip. Therefore, start preparing him for these types of situation in life. Advise him to spend wisely. Today, if he is given a choice between keeping aside some money for his higher education and spending the same amount for a short trip with friends, he should be able to judge which is more important for him.

5) Career Tips

As parents, you possibly can’t decide the career path to be chosen by your child. It will depend on his choice, talent, and his ability to make the most of the opportunities presented to him. All you can do in this case is motivate him to follow his dreams and make sure that he gets the right kind of training that is required to transform his dreams into reality. But it would be advisable if he understands that he should choose a career that is fulfilling (in terms of job satisfaction) and lucrative as well. Only saving up money for future will not do. He should earn sufficiently as well to invest in profitable schemes so that his savings are doubled or tripled.

Marie Nelson is a passionate blogger with expertise on financial matters. The global economic crisis has been the subject of most of her recent write-ups and at present, she is writing exclusively for United Finances.