Educate yourself on personal finance and money
A survey done in 2006 by Entrepreneur magazine revealed that “70% of Americans say they are good or excellent at managing their finances.” Did that statistic shock you? It did me. Statistics from a 2006 government survey show that “96% of all Americans will retire financially dependent on the government, family, or dependents.”
“It isn’t what we don’t know that kills us, it’s everything we know that ain’t so” – Mark Twain
Since so many people believe they are good at money, they fail to learn the basics of managing their finances and thus end up falling into the second statistic and living off of others. Also as a result of the false belief that they know what they are doing, 43% of Americans spend more than they earn each year, the average household carries some $8,000 in credit card debt, and personal bankruptcies have more than doubled in the past decade.
In order to live a life of truly being good or excellent at something, we must not only teach ourselves the basics but also continually educate ourselves on the topic. Managing our finances are no different. As good stewards of the money God has provided us, we must swallow our natural pride and spend time learning and improving our financial situation, regardless of whether we think we know it or not. There are many ways to do this:
I love to read books. Since my little personal finance epiphany, I have read well over 20 different personal finance books and I haven’t stopped. I continue to read personal finance books and just yesterday received Jay Peroni’s new book The Faith Based Investor. I can’t wait to get started on it. My favorite personal finance books include:
- The Bible – I personally prefer the New King James Translation, but there are many many other great versions. For those of you saying: “Hey, that isn’t personal finance”, think again. From Proverbs, to Psalms, to the parables of Christ, the Bible is full of money wisdom.
- Dave Ramsey’s – The Total Money Makeover – Hands down the best book for getting your finances under control.
- Does Your Bag Have Holes? – I just recently finished this one and it’s one of my all time favorite personal finance reads. If you are a Christian, this book should definitely be on your bookshelf.
- The Millionaire Next Door – Incredibly insightful book for understanding how real millionaires live their lives. It’s not all about big homes and fast Italian cars.
I’m finding myself reading more on the internet these days than I am reading books. Why? The internet is free and current. In particular, I love reading blogs. Here are just a few internet resources I highly recommend you check out and begin reading:
- Blogs from my blogroll – TONs of great reading.
- M-Network blogs – Before you accuse me of being partial as a member, check them out. The M-Network contains some great personal finance blogs.
- PFBlogs.org – Personal finance blog aggregator.
- Wise Bread’s Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs – Recent list of top 100 personal finance blogs based on various stats.
- The Top 20 Christian Financial websites – Bob from ChristianPF.com put together a list of top Christian personal finance blogs.
Training is offered in most local communities from a number of different sources including: Community colleges, Colleges, local government, credit counseling organizations, certified personal financial planners, and churches. One of the best training courses you can take is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, offered by many area churches.
Many of these training programs are free or offered at significantly low prices as part of public education opportunities.
Seminars can be expensive, but can be well worth the money spent. Just be careful and thoroughly research them as unfortunately some are scams. Two seminars I am particularly aware of are: Dave Ramsey Live and Suze Orman Live. I searched and searched for a decent directory of personal finance seminars, but couldn’t find anything. I’ll be writing more about seminars later. For now, just keep your ears and eye’s open as they are frequently mentioned on the radio, TV, and on money related websites and blogs.
Listen to audio training
Whenever I am spending more than 10 minutes or so in my car, I always make sure I either have an audio CD or podcast to listen to. I think it’s important to utilize any “free time” we may have, and listening to audio books while driving is a great way to not only get to where you are going, but to learn something at the same time.
Most books are available at Amazon.com and at your local library in audio format. One of my favorite things to do is visit iTunes and download lots of podcasts to listen to. One of the recent podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to is Frugal Coast to Coast hosted by Lynnae from Being Frugal and Jenn Fowler from Frugal Upstate.
Learn from friends
One of my favorite ways to learn is by talking to friends about money and investing. BUT, be careful. While it’s fine to talk to people and get their advice, only take advice advice from those that are wealthy or at least heading in the right direction. Don’t forget, 70% of people surveyed say they are good or excellent at managing their finances and aren’t.
I know from my circle of friends, that only a small handful really know what they are talking about and I’ve come to really trust their advice and input.
Don’t be afraid to talk about money with others. We all have money, use money and most of us have some level of money problems. Overall I think we would all be better off if we were open about our money issues.
How do you educate yourself about finances? Have some great seminars, books, or blogs you read that you think others might benefit from? Share your links, resources, and input by adding a comment.
Photo by: Jeff Kubina