Who says finance is dull or boring? Pop culture references can serve as great examples for your financial education — and it’s much more fun to learn about money via our favorite TV shows rather than boring blocks of text.
So let’s let Parks and Recreation’s Tom Haverford show us a few financial dos and don’ts that we can all use to improve our spending, earning, and money management habits.
DO: Take advantage of free money
Have a 401(k)? Does it come with an employer match? Get on that! That’s like free money on the table, and contributing at least enough to secure that match in your 401(k) will make saving and investing for retirement much easier. Be sure to take advantage of other opportunities to earn more or save more with other company benefits you may be entitled to.
DON’T: Take financial advice from just anyone.
Your friends may provide you with well-intentioned financial advice — but that doesn’t make it good advice. If you want to do more with your money and build wealth, seek the help of a professional who understands the actions you need to take and puts your interests ahead of their own.
DO: Always place more value on experiences and relationships over material stuff.
Money can buy happiness when it’s spent in the right way. Invest in yourself, your health, your friends, your family, and your experiences. Don’t waste money on material things that you don’t really need. Instead, be grateful for what you do have and learn how to be happy with less stuff.
DON’T: Lose sight of your priorities as you work towards what you want to accomplish.
As you make progress on your financial goals, you’ll experience challenges, distractions, and temptations along the way. Guard yourself against things like lifestyle inflation, keeping up with the Joneses, and envy over what someone else has that you don’t, and focus on your own journey.
DO: Feel confident in your ability to reach your financial goals.
Achieving financial success doesn’t happen overnight. You need determination and dedication to build wealth and accomplish your goals. That’s easier to do when you feel confident about your purpose and motivated to make big things happen.
DON’T: Get too cocky.
Remember, looking rich is not the same as being wealthy. Don’t flaunt your cash or wealth — and try not to wear it, drive it, or live in it, either. The only way to build more wealth is to let what you have stay invested, earn returns, and compound over time.
DO: Find frugal ways to make yourself feel great, no matter how much money you have.
You don’t need an extravagant amount of money to enjoy life and have fun. Be resourceful and don’t be afraid to get a little frugal (or DIY your own red carpet when you can). Remember, there’s a difference between being cheap and living frugally — and frugality isn’t a bad thing.
DON’T: Allow instant gratification to override good financial judgement.
We’re lucky to live in a wealth country full of abundance. It means it’s easy for most people to live well. But it also means there’s a lot to spend money on and we can get it whenever, wherever we want. Don’t allow instant gratification get in the way of your financial goals.
DO: Treat yo’self.
It’s important to cut loose from time to time. Never allowing yourself a financial splurge is like being on a strict diet and trying to avoid any and all sugar. You’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re leaving yourself feeling deprived. It’s not a smart move with your diet, and it’s not smart to do with your finances, either. Go ahead and treat yo’self on occasion.
DON’T: Get carried away when you splurge.
Unless you want to fall short of your big dreams and end up bankrupt like Entertainment 720, keep those financial splurges reasonable. Plan ahead for them and ensure they can still fit in your budget. A splurge doesn’t mean you can spend more than you can really afford!