Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves, and other times, not enough. When it comes to handling finances, how we handle our money can be benchmarks to see if we’re doing okay. Of course, we also want to figure out how to further improve ourselves financially as well as in many other aspects of life.
Here are some financial benchmarks to figure out if you have a good grasp of your money.
- If your employer doesn’t pay this month can you still pay your bills?
This would be an interesting question to ask anyone. Chris Rock once mentioned that “Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it is about having a lot of options.”
In this case, it is the ability to stay afloat the moment your boss doesn’t pay you for the month.
While we all have bills to pay, do we have enough to last through more than a month if the company doesn’t pay us, or you suddenly lose your job? This includes rent, student and credit card loans, etc.
A true measure of wealth would be to living comfortably indefinitely. In this case, let’s just set the base standard to being comfortable without any salary for 3 months
- Fewer debts than last year?
The debts can come in any form – from overdue education fees to credit card and housing or car loans; they can be the liabilities that drain a very large proportion of your income very quickly.
Of course, these debts can also come from overspending. Obviously, that isn’t a good thing, but that could be one of the reasons as well.
We all do have debts to pay. However, if you’ve managed to pay off a decent amount of debts and you have less to pay off now than you did last year, congratulations! A big shackle would have been removed from your leg.
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- Contributing to savings account regularly?
This would perhaps be one of the most important things to do. Experts say that everyone should save at least 10-20% of the net salary drawn (after taxes and CPF) to ensure a comfortable cushion for living, as well as to have enough money for a rainy. Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. If you have a larger amount of debt to service, then obviously 20% may be a stretch even for the most thrifty of us. If you have relatively little debt, saving more isn’t going to be much of a problem too.
The more important issue here would be to contribute regularly to a savings account, even if it’s a little to begin with. If you start small, that amount can grow as your debts get fully serviced, and more cash is free for you to save.
- Pay off all credit card and miscellaneous loans (i.e. school loans)
If more debts and loans can be paid off, it means more cash would be freed for you to invest, save, or spend on that vacation that you desperately need after months of hard slogging.
- Regularly investing (stocks or at the very least insurance investment plans)
Investing would be perhaps the holy grail of improving one’s finances. We’ve all heard of people who have struck it big investing in stocks, options or whatever financial instruments.
Proper investing and research on what you’re investing in can often lead to very profitable returns. What makes it better is that these research and investing skills can also further translate into skills that can be transferrable to other areas of research (property, land etc.) as well as channelling those skills into a start-up that you may want to do in the near future!
Check out some of the articles we’ve written about investing.
- Regularly reading books (finance or not) that can possibly contribute to better finances
Many prominent people in the world – from Warren Buffett to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates – recommend reading at least a few books a year to improve themselves. The topics can range from technical, science-based stuff like biology and astrophysics, finances and investing, all the way to even novels and self-help books. The key message in reading books would be to improve ourselves as people, and to further enhance our knowledge of our vast world.
Interestingly, books that are seemingly not related to finance like biology can eventually find concepts that can relate to the financial field, for example, how one derivative or equity change in the market can result in a ripple effect, similar to how a breakdown in an organ can lead to multiple organ failures.
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