Not long after college, a friend of mine gave me a list of recommended books. Those books, Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Ecker’s The Millionaire Mind, Orman’s Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, among others, became the catalyst for a brand new personal hobby… money.
I started counting it, tracking it, and trying to grow it. I mastered the use of excel spreadsheets while monitoring every expense, I opened my first retirement account and bought my first shares of stock while feverishly reading through Investing for Dummies, I began checking all of my accounts, every day to ensure that any and all charges were correct and accounted for… and I loved it.
Updating spreadsheets, learning new savings and investment strategies, and watching my net worth grow over time became increasingly exciting. Money stopped being a burden and became a hobby, something I enjoyed and thrived on- literally.
I wonder what would happen if more people adopted the money hobby. Perhaps it would demystify it, remove the taboo, and create a better educated consumer.
How to Start.
To make money management something you enjoy and to successfully incorporate it into your daily life, you have to get excited about it. Find something to motivate you into becoming financially literate. It can be something financially prudent like starting a retirement account or something totally frivolous like saving for a vacation. The important thing is to get started; any major goal that inspires you to do that is a good start.
Put a System in Place.
Once you have a goal in mind, you need a roadmap for how you’re going to get from point A, where you are now, to point B, your goal. Another word for that roadmap is a budget. Not only does the budget need to account for all of your regular life expenses but it should also include line items for your big and small goals.
Let’s say your big goal is to save up enough money to move to the big city and pursue your dream career. Once you’ve figured out how much you need total, find a way to break it down and include a monthly savings target in the budget. You can do this with any goal, no matter how crazy big or far off it is.
Tackle the enormity of saving up for a down payment on a home or for retirement or anything else by deciding how much you can afford to set aside on a monthly or weekly basis. Those small and steady contributions are what make the big things happen.
Track Your Progress.
Find a way to track your progress towards your goals that helps you stick to your new spending and savings plan. It’s all about building and maintaining momentum. Seeing the numbers go up in my spreadsheets and bank accounts is enough for me, but maybe you would benefit from a more visual approach, or perhaps you can set mini goals and rewards along the way.
Just like any hobby, it’s fun to learn new approaches, implement new techniques, and stay up to date on the latest news and information. The more informed you are, the more likely you are to successfully master any monetary saving, spending, or earning technique. Find writers that speak to you and inspire you to continue learning about and spending time with your cash.
Just as a gardener tends to his or her garden and makes adjustments in water levels, sun exposure, etc when a plant is struggling or when unexpected weather hits; money hobbyists like myself cultivate our finances in much the same way.
If for some reason you miss the mark on a goal or an unexpected expense hits your budget hard, don’t be derailed, simply take the time to make adjustments and reassess your roadmap.
By combining these simple steps and a little bit of wealth inspiration and momentum, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master money hobbyist yourself.