Congratulations! You’ve made it!
It’s been a lot of time and a lot of work, but you’ve finally reached graduation! You’ve created your financial plan and are well on your way to achieving your financial goals. Whether your goal is to retire early and travel the world or simply to have enough money in your emergency fund to provide security, you’ve got this! Your financial plan is going to get you there.
Together, through learning about budgets, insurance, investing, retirement and so many other things, what I hope you’ve really discovered is that money is simply a tool you can use to create a life you love. I hope you’ve been able to see that money is freedom. Money gives you choices. Money provides security for the uncertainties in the future. Money makes it possible to pursue your dreams.
Now that you’ve reached graduation, you are heading out into the world with your plan. Your financial plan really is just beginning, though! Everything changes and that includes you! As your goals and priorities adapt, so should your financial plan. By regularly re-evaluating your life and where you want to go, you can set new priorities.
I’d like to offer some advice (unsolicited perhaps?) from my own personal finance journey. I hope you will find some truth in these.
Find Your Why
Once you know what your purpose is, everything else will fall into place. Finding your “why” is not directly related to money at all. You’ll find, though, that when your purpose becomes clear, you are likely going to need some money to pursue your purpose, or at least to pay for your living expenses while you do!
It’s not difficult to budget and track your expenses you’re doing it for the purpose of ensuring that you’re reaching your most important financial goals. For me, it’s having money to allow my kids to pursue their interest and passions as well as money to be able to make memories together in our travels all over the world.
Finding your purpose often leads to financial opportunities as well. If you’re doing something that you love for work, you will be far more likely to be successful.
Live True To You
You show your priorities every single day by the things that you spend your money on. Think about this. Money is a finite resource and not paying yourself firsty shows that you are valuing other spending over securing your future.
Spending your money to keep up with the Joneses will give you huge regrets when all you’re left with is a large, empty home and a huge amount of debt. There is always going to be someone that has more than you. It’s a never ending cycle that you need to remove yourself from.
Instead, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Live true to your own personal goals and the life that you really want. If a big house is important to you, that’s okay, but the real problem lies in wanting a bigger house to show your status and keep up appearances with others.
Just live true to you and figure out what’s really important. You’ll likely find that it isn’t stuff at all, but experiences instead.
Keep the Future in Mind
It’s alright if you’ve made mistakes in the past with your money. It’s okay if you have debt from the past. The important thing is that you move on with a plan and keep progressing toward that life you want.
Initially, use your time and energy to pay off your debt and get it behind you. Do it with determination, but not with guilt and shame. Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is not to repeat them. We all have mistakes we’ve made in the past with money. It’s never too late to change your tomorrow, but that change happens through what you make of today.
Just keep looking toward building your future. The past doesn’t have to define you any longer.
Enjoy Life Now
It’s great to be focused on your goals, but don’t forget to enjoy the life you have right now. If you choose to do so, you can see beauty and joy in any situation. There is more joy in frugality than there is in excess spending.
The key to achieving the balance between wanting to enjoy life now and needing to save for the future lies in prioritization. That’s the entire premise of making your money matter. Nearly everyone finds when they start tracking their expenses that they have spending that is not providing value to them. These are the funds that can easily be cut and the money prioritized toward goals.
Those that are so focused on money can find that once they reach their goal, they may find disappointment from neglecting relationships and other opportunities. Remember to enjoy your life!
Always Move Forward
Sometimes, you’ll feel as though your progress is just so slow. There will be discouraging setbacks that will make you feel like you want to give up. Just keep going, even if you have to take baby steps.
Even if the furnace breaks down right or the baby has to go to the doctor when you’ve finally saved up your emergency fund, don’t be discouraged. The skills you learn along the way will ensure success for you in the future if you just keep going!
The important thing is that you keep moving forward. Don’t abandon your whole budget because you’ve had a setback. You have so much to do still! Just keeping moving forward.
Never Stop Learning
There is so much to learn and so many opportunities to improve based on continually learning. I’m constantly reading about personal finance because it’s a passion of mine. Picking a few of your favorite blogs and publications will ensure that you are up to date on changes and opportunities where you can improve your financial plan.
Education never ended when we finished school and received our diploma. The most valuable thing we learn in school is how to learn! The more you know the more you can do!
Give to Others
I truly believe that by giving to others, you always end up having more for yourself. Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s having the quality of gratitude that makes you successful and therefore earn more. Maybe you simply realize how much you already have and need less. Whatever the reason, it’s true!
Don’t wait until you’re wealthy to give back to your community and the world in which we all live. Give what you can now, no matter how small. No one ever regrets spending on charitable causes.
Use your money to create a life you love, one dollar at a time.
And now without further ado, here’s your diploma!