The Tree That Grows Money
By – Vrinda Gupta
In the wise words of Mr Dave Ramsey, “You have to tell your money what to do or it will leave.” Through the length and breadth of childhood and adolescence we have been taught to save money, spend less, and make cutbacks on unnecessary things. Stepping into adulthood, we mature enough to distinguish between our needs and wants. At some point in our lives, we shall have to manage our sources of income, counting in all aspects of personal finance, all the while ensuring we don’t run out of money.
Our well-wishers have always verbalised how money does not grow on trees. But what if we learn a mechanism to prove that it actually does? What if we take conscious steps to get acquainted with personal finance management and invest in the seeds of a money-growing tree today? Let us consider this as our long-term goal. Now, on regularly watering it with various wise short-term decisions, in a matter of a few years, the sapling we sowed would grow into a tree, except the fruits will actually be money in this case – that will come back to us compounded, or in other words, exponentially increased.
Finance refers to the provision of money and its management as per requirements. Personal finance is the management of money by a person or household and involves making informed financial decisions about budgeting, saving, and spending, among others. Financial freedom is not an overnight phenomenon but a definitive fruit of good financial habits consistently practised over time. After all, it is one thing to know how to work for money and another thing to know how to make money work for you.
Financial management provides us with a framework for achieving our long-term goals in a planned and systematic way while simultaneously helping us avoid shocks and surprises. Personal Finance Management, on the other hand, enables us to enjoy a better standard of living and makes us prepared for emergencies.
The seven skills required to optimise one’s finances include:
- Earning: The ability to bring in money
- Budgeting: Spending on things that matter
- Saving: Producing a surplus
- Investing: Being able to grow the surplus
- Crediting: Using and extending credit
- Giving: Being generous with money
- Insuring: Being able to protect wealth
To earn, we should learn a skill and do the work. To spend, we should create a spending plan also known as a budget, and therein incorporate the things that we value. To save, we should seek to build an emergency reserve capable of sustaining 7-9 months of living expenses. When the going gets tough, our savings save us! An emergency fund will minimise the need to use debt to combat the challenges of life.
Factually speaking, people who have an emergency fund are less likely to rely on credit cards which could probably only make life worse in the middle of a crisis. But how do we build an emergency fund? The approach is extremely simple – we add it to our budget and consider it as a mandatory expense of a fixed amount. If it is withheld from our disposable income, we will not look at it as spendable money. This will make the formation and retention of our emergency reserve much easier.
Apart from this, to grow our money faster, we should invest early and regularly. Zach once said, “If income is the cake, investing is the icing.” Creating a diverse portfolio should be our priority, for it is never a good idea to put all our eggs in one basket. One does not need to be a pro at investing to do so. Our investments should be kept simple with a long-term vision of nurturing a money-growing tree. All that is needed next is the magic ingredient of patience. Don’t wait to start investing; start investing and then wait! The tree that grows money would then bear fruits sooner than we realise.
Additionally, we must also take steps to protect our valuable assets such as our life and health by getting insurance. We should avoid the heavily marketed get-rich-quick schemes at all costs. A good idea is to pre-evaluate our risk appetite and, most importantly, learn to fight those emotional spending triggers like self-validation, fear of missing out, binge spending, false creation of need etc.
The cost of financial ignorance is a heavy and unfortunate price to pay. In the absence of personal finance management, the financial decisions and actions that one takes or does not take, lack a solid foundation to succeed. One becomes vulnerable and is easily falling prey to investment scams and sleazy salespersons, missing out on golden investment opportunities to grow money, losing the freedom to pursue things that matter, and above all, feeling overwhelmed by any financial crisis due to lack of knowledge about the options available at hand.
There are certain obvious red flags which must be identified and distanced from. We should never invest in something that sounds too good to be true nor should we sign a contract we don’t understand. Professional help should be sought in this regard if we must. However, it is equally important to not put blind faith in financial advisors. A healthy dose of scepticism certainly goes a long way. Moreover, we must know and understand that just because someone famous says it is a good investment, it is not always a good idea for you to invest in it.
A tried and tested way to keep oneself financially updated is by consuming credible content from recognised resources like well-known blogs, verified podcasts, business magazines, journals etc. Awareness about personal finance management is a sure shot way to make wiser decisions and secure a safer and financially sound future.
Clearly, if we want to have our money grow on trees for us, we must actively make prudent investment choices while staying mentally and emotionally stable. We must be aware of the basic skills needed to manage our money – all of which comes with learning how to manage our personal finances.
The tree that grows money can be harboured if we swear by the fact that no matter how good we get at managing personal finances, we can always get better and that’s the exciting part.
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- financialeducationcouncil.org – (n.d.). http://www.financialeducationcouncil.org
- Business News Today: Read Latest Business news, India Business News Live, Share Market & Economy News. (n.d.). The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/
- Finlight. (n.d.). Finlight. https://finlight.in/articles