One of the most important skills to develop is how to use money. This is because apart from health, money affects everyone of us regardless of attainment in other areas of life. In this context using money refers to where the money goes after you have earned it (salary, bonus, inheritance, gift, investment income, rent etc.) The way(s) each of us apply our money, while different, will be based on our priorities, which, in turn, is dictated by our chosen lifestyle.
The actions people take with their earned money can be classified into 4 broad categories; Spending, Saving, Investing and Giving away.
For most people, this is the main reason why money is earned i.e. to spend it. We spend on food, utilities, transport, health, education, housing, electronics, parties, the list goes on and on. It is difficult to imagine anyone living in the modern economy in Ghana who does not have to buy something. When you take a lot of these actions with your money, you pay more taxes in VAT and other levies.
The most useful habit here is to only spend money you have. Put it another way, do not spend money you do not have. Avoid spending more than you earned. Secondly, spend on areas that are most important to you i.e. things that remove stress from your life and make you happy.
Savings is the part of current earnings you have not spent. It gives you power and freedom to spend in the future. While most people agree that savings is important for their financial future, very few do it. You might have heard the saying “Pay yourself first”. It comes from “the richest man in Babylon”, a book by George Classen, which means put aside 10% or more of your earnings into savings before you spend the rest. Save separately for other short-term items you want to buy but invest for the long-term. Click here to read more on smart saving tips.
This is the third and most important use of money. If you are looking to have your money grow, you must make the money work for you! Money can work for its owner and the more of your savings you employ, the faster it grows over time. If you are not sure why and how to invest money, then read my previous post on “Smart Investing” and consult your personal pension advisor or a SEC licensed investment advisor. Sign up for Axis Pension Plan.
Give it away
When you share your money to aid those who need it the most, we say you are giving. There are roadside beggars, a relative in need, your religious organization, charities etc. Although using money this way does not benefit your directly, it will be beneficial in priceless ways. Endeavor not to use all your money on yourself alone, give some out. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, so try to be on the side of blessing.
The way you use money can say a lot about your character and determine the lifestyle you want to live (now and in future). If you strike a good balance in the above 4 areas, then you have mastered the art of controlling your money. To set many people on the right footing, read the 50-20-30 rule of using money. It was popularized by billionaire Elizabeth Warren as a guide to use money. There are other variants of this rule.