St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and many of us will be celebrating. For some, it means parties or parades this weekend, and for others it just means wearing green on the big day, to avoid getting pinched. As we think about shamrocks, leprechauns, and all things Irish in the coming days, we also think of good luck—the type of luck we need to find, say, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. And while this is fun to dream about, it isn’t reality. If you rely too much on luck, it will be your finances that are really getting pinched!
There is No Pot of Gold
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of any rainbow. And in the real world luck won’t improve your finances. The key to being financially healthy and smart with your money is actually the polar opposite of luck. It’s really all about controlling your own destiny through financial education and organization. If anything, you want to minimize luck, chance, and risk. A fool relies on luck, and as the Irish have taught us:
So how do you go about “taking control” and minimizing luck? Here are our suggestions:
You knew we were going to mention budgeting, right? We know it doesn’t sound like fun. It’s not flashy or exciting. But it does give you the opportunity to see very clearly where your money goes each month. It allows you to keep a tight grip on your finances and control what’s happening.
There are a lot of tools and calculators out there that make budgeting and tracking your expenses quite easy. There might be some initial moans and groans as you get started, but it does get easier.
This is a biggie. When we get rid of our debts we have more control, because our decisions are less restricted. When you have debt there are just certain things you can’t do, because of the additional responsibility it requires.
For some, paying off debt can be a long, difficult process. Even for many clients on our debt management program, it can take several years. But it’s always worth it. For others with small amounts of debt, it could only take a few months to get back on track and regain total control.
If you’re not sure where you stand with debt, start by calculating your debt to income ratio.
Be Prepared for anything
Luck has two sides—good and bad. And nothing can ruin your finances quicker than a case of bad luck. Maybe it’s a period of unemployment, an injury, or even a natural disaster. These are all difficult situations, but they can be managed if you are prepared.
In this case, being prepared means having money set aside in advance so that you don’t have to take on new debt when things go wrong. Our Jerry Cruthis explains:
Have a Plan for the Future
The last aspect of taking control is to have a clear plan and goals for your future. Short-term thinking tends to overlook a substantial amount of possibilities, and allows chance to play a bigger role. It’s much better to make daily financial decisions in a way that is geared toward a big picture perspective that includes your goals for down the road.
Be “Brilliant!” not Just Lucky
We hope you enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and have a lot of fun parading, partying, or just wearing green. But after March 17, please remember not to rely on being lucky. You will be much better off if you adopt a different Irish adjective instead. Be…brilliant! Being brilliant means being budget savvy, and remember we are here to help with our line of counseling services.