As I sit here this morning, sipping my hot tea in my leather backed dumpster salvaged chair, I realize there is a lot of good and contradicting advice about finance.
There is tons of information on what you should and should not do with your money. Everyone has an opinion, including myself. Yahoo finance, MSN money, Mr. Money Mustache, +20SomethingFinance.com, and many others all have views on what you should do with your cash. I read a lot of blogs and for the most part they all usually convey the same basic message. Save more, make more, spend less, invest, and be happy.
GREAT. GRAND. B. E. A. UTIFUL!... but what happens when you disagree with the advice given, or maybe even the personal viewpoints behind the advice. What do you do then? Do you fire off an angry comment or email? Do you unsubscribe from their blog never to return and remove the site from your favorites (do people actually use favorites)?
Well here at the old school way of thinking I shun such behavior and thinking. I believe that just because you don't agree with someone does not mean that you can not still be friends with them. I believe that just because you disagree on minor issues, you should still be able to agree on the overall opinion(s) of a selected topic.
Finance. Old School's way of thinking.
So back to the topic at hand. What is one major area every one can agree upon, something that is fact rather than opinion? If you make more then you spend there will be money left over at the end of the month. Pretty basic. How do you track this? Create a budget. Here is where we come to some disagreement but let me put an end to that right now. If you don't have a budget you don't truly know where every single cent is going. Maybe you would have a basic idea of where all your money goes but without a written budget you are failing to plan and thus planning to fail.
So first step should be a written budget. There are many different types of budgets out there (zero based works for me), but I think it is important that you adopt what works best for you. JUST WRITE IT DOWN and track it.
Now let us assume that you have budgeted and are making some extra dough that isn't being spent. Congrats. This takes hard work and dedication and I sincerely offer my #winning because you are working and working hard. The next step is take that extra money and...
once again I come to a fork in the road. Multiple forks actually. Saving, Investing, Spending, and Giving. And each fork has multiple splits within the roads, subsections if you will. 401ks, money markets, charities, IRAs, cars, college, etc.... OH MY GOSH!!!! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE you shout. There is just too much information circulating to even make a rational choice.
You are correct. This where this blog differs from some of the other financial schools of thought. I'm not going to give you exact advice on what the best investment is. The best investment for me may not be the best for you. I may be able to afford that brand new Porsche 911 (I wish), and you may not. I don't care if you spend $4 on starbucks every morning even though I would never dream of doing that myself.
Your situation is your situation. I can't judge you and won't by the way, because everyone has to make their own decisions. That is part of what makes you an adult. Making your own choice based on a plan that you think will work best in your life. Then after executing said plan you get to live with the consequences...
...so where does this leave us after having worked hard and gotten some extra cash? Well I would say that decision is up to you. In other articles I will break down how I save money, invest, and give. The one thing I know is that you can always just throw your extra money into a bank account that is federally insured and at least you know it will be there when you need it. I know that everyone has an opinion on how or where to store extra cash, but listen up. If you decide later on you want to spend that money it will be there. If you want to save it differently it will be there. If you want to invest it, it will be there. See where I'm going with this. Take some time, read a lot, make a plan, and then execute. Don't worry if your extra cash sits there for a while you really aren't losing that much time. Don't worry about following every article to a T. Life is messy.
Take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy messy.