Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What Does It Mean To Be Financially Stable?

Having a significant amount in the bank, a friend said. If I can pay for all my needs and I still have money left in the bank.

How much is “significant amount”? What needs are you talking about? I asked.

My friend can’t really figure out how much, the amount keeps on increasing and the needs keep on expanding.

For most people, winning the lottery is the only way to be financially stable. Otherwise, it will always be a struggle financially.

I read that becoming a financially stable person is achievable with focused attention to your spending habits and future thinking. The key to being financially stable is to know where you are financially today and know where you want to be.

I found some pointers in different websites on how to become financially stable. Most of them are easier said than done and it takes a lot of discipline to do it. But nevertheless, it’s not impossible.

I am going to share a few of what I already did and my personal experiences with it.

Spend Less Than What You Earn

This is very popular but very unpopular when it comes to people doing it. Had I done this, considering the number of years I have been working, I would have substantial amount in the bank right now. What makes it difficult? I can provide a number of reasons. Believe me, I am what I am talking about. I will make a different post on this topic.

Have a personal financial plan

I did this for a while. It started when I work as volunteer in a mission organization. It’s not really a plan at that time. It was only a simple listing of my daily expenditures. The good thing was, I knew where my money goes and knew at the end of the day whether I made the right decision with how I handled my finances.

My real plan started when I quit working in the organization, maybe because I was already earning or getting paid for my work. The thought of having a plan was essential, especially that I was not working fulltime, my income was not regular. It worked for me. But, something happened somewhere. I got lost. I can’t even remember when exactly I stopped having a plan. It seemed like I fell asleep and woke-up in trouble with my finances.

My plan was really simple. Why should I complicate something for myself? I just listed what I really need against my expected income. There’s a qualifier “really” in the need. Not just “need”. Part of what I “really need” is forced-savings. Forced savings is like a sinking-fund. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be ridiculously small but it’s a lot better than nothing at all.

Income – savings = expenses. You probably heard of this formula before. It is quite similar to what I did but this formula is difficult to do. Nothing is constant in that formula. When everything is variable, it means you have to keep changing everything. Changing everything almost every time will take most of your time and it means a lot of work.

Financial Stability Is An Attitude

I would like to end this post with a really nice and so far the best definition I heard about being financially stable. Many years back I watched three Filipino celebrities being interviewed on TV. The topic as far as I can remember was about “When is the right time to get married.” Being financially stable was the most important factor being considered. The two actors almost had the same perspective about being financially stable; the third one got my attention. He defined financial stability as “an attitude towards money”. It’s not about how much money you have, but how well you handle what you already have. Whatever your economic status, you can be financially stable. It’s only a matter of attitude.