Whether your parents were good with money or they struggled to keep a roof over your head, chances are there are some money lessons they didn’t teach you. Even worse, you might have been taught all the wrong things to do with money. No matter what money lessons you were taught, you can learn (or unlearn) how to handle money.
The truth is, so many things people believe about personal finances are just plain wrong. Once you recognize that what you thought you knew is inaccurate, you’ll be ready to take control of your financial future. Read on for 7 money lessons you didn’t learn growing up:
1. Bills Are Good
Yes, you read that right. Bills are good. That’s a complete turnaround from all the grumbling about bills you likely heard growing up. But it’s true. You want a home, air conditioning, and food, right? You don’t work to pay bills. You work so that you can have bills to pay.
When people joke about “adulting,” paying bills is one of the first things that tops the list. Paying bills makes you an adult. As an adult, you get to choose how to spend your money. This includes what bills you will take on. So, instead of grumbling about bills, appreciate the stuff you choose to buy.
2. Live on 80% of Your Income
A Career Builder study found that 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck, and more than 1 in 4 workers fail to save money each month [source]. When you surround yourself with people who live paycheck to paycheck — or if you grew up this way — you may think this is just how it is.
Living this way is a huge mistake. Not only is it stressful, but it also doesn’t allow you to become financially independent. Instead, make it your goal to live on 80% of your income. Maybe you can’t afford to live on 80%. In that case live on 90% or 95%. Do your best to get your income over your expenses every month and start growing your wealth.
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3. Give Yourself an Allowance
Allowances are not just for kids with wealthy parents. You can (and should) give yourself an allowance. When you set aside part of your budget for an allowance, you know you have a little bit of “fun money” to spend however you see fit. This is the money you get to spend on things that are not budgeted for, such as video games, new shoes, or accessories.
A perk of being an adult is being able to buy what you want when you want. But, it’s a problem when “treat yo’ self” becomes a lifestyle rather than an occasional splurge. When you give yourself an allowance, you know how much money you have each month to use however you want. This will prevent you from treating yourself every time something catches your eye.
4. Credit Cards Aren’t Bad
Once upon a time, credit card companies would visit college campuses and give students free goods in exchange for signing up for credit cards. It didn’t end well for most students who hadn’t been taught how to use credit cards wisely. That’s why the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 was put in place.
Unfortunately, the CARD Act and the fear of making the same credit card mistakes their parents made have taught many people that credit cards are bad.
One of the most important money lessons you can learn is how to use a credit card wisely. When you pay your credit card off each month, there is no debt, no interest, and no late fees. Plus, your credit score grows.
A smart money move is using a rewards credit card to make your essential purchases, as well as your big purchases. This may seem like radically different advice from what you were taught growing up. But, with a rewards credit card, you can actually save money in the end. For instance, with the purchase, you accrue points that you can redeem. If you pay off your credit card each month, then you are earning free money just by using it.
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- Related: 7 Tips to Crush Debt
5. Buy Things That Make Your Life Better
You may have been taught that shopping equals happiness. When you see someone walk out of a store carrying armfuls of shopping bags, you think they have it made. But, if the items in those bags don’t make the shopper’s life better, all they really do is add clutter. And clutter does not equal happiness.
Instead, spend your hard-earned money on things that will improve your life. Don’t spend money just because you can. This is how you wind up with closets full of unused items from the Target clearance aisle.
- Related: 7 Habits of Highly Productive People
6. Budget Strategically
Don’t budget to live on the bare minimum. Budget to spend your money strategically and get the most enjoyment out of every dollar you spend. For example, when you create your budget, make sure you plan to keep income over expenses. If you find that your expenses add up to more than your income, you need to make some changes.
Be realistic when it comes to budgeting. If you know you enjoy eating out with your friends, then make sure you include that in your budget. Look for other areas in your budget where you can make cuts to fit in the things that bring you enjoyment. For instance, cut your daily coffee shop habit, and use the money you save for a monthly girls’ night.
7. Enjoy Spending Your Money
Everything you buy should make your life better. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if it will improve your life. If the answer is yes, then be proud that you can buy it with the money you’ve earned.
Save 20% of your money, and live on the remaining 80%. When you live this way, you won’t feel stressed or guilty. Instead, you’ll feel free to enjoy what you buy.
Save More Money! Read these next…
- 9 Essential Dave Ramsey Tips for Tough Times
- 12 Tips to Cut Household Expenses
- 42 Hacks to Live on One Income Effortlessly
Save Money At Your Favorite Stores:
- 5+ Amazon Hacks Every Prime Member Should Know
- 9 Ways to Save Money at Target
- 7 Trader Joe’s Insider Secrets (to save money)
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Michelle Salater is a freelance finance writer with a passion for personal finance education. When she’s not in front of her computer, she’s reading biographies and exploring remote areas of the world. She also freelances for Wooster Media Group LLC.