A guide to sorting out your financial mess

Detail shot of a tensed business man isolated against black background. [Photo: Courtesy]
1.  PLAY CASHFLOW 101

This is a highly recommended financial board game that you can invest in with a few friends to help teach yourselves about money. The game was the brain child of Rich Dad, Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki, to help people understand the financial concepts underlying growing wealth. According to its inventors’ own words: “CASHFLOW 101 was created as a fun, powerful, and experiential way to teach investing and wealth building. Manage assets and liabilities, trade stocks and fight your way out of the Rat Race.” The concepts that you learn and practice to perfection in a fun way while trying to get out of the rat race and onto the fast track to financial wealth during the game are the same concepts that you use to get out of the rat race in real life, some of which you may not even have thought of. There is also a Cashflow version for children if you want to get them started early.

2. CREATE A FINANCIAL CALENDAR

Financial calendars are usually associated with companies, but you can also benefit from your own financial calendar as an individual. While the best time to have created a financial calendar was at the beginning of the year, the next best time is now. A financial calendar is map of income and expenses, forecasting where you expect everything to go every month. It is a great planning tool to help you budget every month, and at the end of the year, you will be able to use it to review exactly where your money goes and adjust accordingly. You can create a calender for yourself by downloading a template from www.dollarbird.com or use an app like Fudget or Mint to track your budget.

SEE ALSO :How to recover after a financial mess

3. NUMBER ONE RULE FOR DUMMIES

You can’t save your way to prosperity. Saving is not only great, but is in fact something that you should be doing consistently, to cushion you in case of an unexpected rainy day. But that is all it does - cushion you. Even savings get depleted if the unforeseen situation goes on long enough and it will certainly not make you wealthy. What can make you wealthy, however, is putting your extra money in a venture where it will multiply. But where to begin? A few investments that anyone can make where returns are almost guaranteed include real estate, government bonds and mutual funds. You can then graduate to slightly riskier ventures like the stock market, forex trading and so forth.

4.  WAIT UNTIL YOU CAN AFFORD IT

Sometimes you believe you can afford something, but can you? Really? You may have the money for it right now, but if buying it leaves you with little else to invest, then you really cannot afford it. Worse still, is when you do not have the money but have to borrow to fund it. That is a great way to forever be stuck in a vicious cycle of debt. Differentiate between needs and wants and only spend on a ‘want’ when you can genuinely afford it. If it is not a need, meaning it is not necessary for your survival, then it is a want, something you desire for your comfort. And for needs, try to find the version of it that you can afford. Especially avoid credit card debt, one of the worst kinds of debt you can possibly accrue. It can easily keep accruing with various other charges such as late payments keeping you in an endless cycle of debt. Some debts are good, but only when they are well-thought through for investment, meaning they will bring you greater returns when the investment matures.

5.  EDUCATE YOURSELF

There are intricacies about money that only a few people ever understand. This is because most are focused on survival, earning and spending; the reason why only a few are able to make money grow and aren’t in the rat race. The one thing that almost every wealthy person has in common is that they read a lot. Bill Gates, for instance, reads a book per week. There are many great financial books such as Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, by Tony Robbins; The Millionaire Next Door By Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko and The $100 Startup By Chris Guillebeau. In addition, anyone with access to the internet can teach themselves how to become better with money, thus get more of it. There are numerous free resources online such as Investopedia.com, mint.com, thesimpledollar.com, the apps Abacus and Wallet, among numerous others.

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