My Christmas gift is a little advice...
As the credit card bills start to roll in after the holiday season, I'd like to offer you a little advice when it comes to personal finance.
If there is one thing that I would recommend above anything else, it would be to get your priorities straight. I'll give you a couple of examples...
I've got a friend that complains that he can't afford healthcare. Although his company pays for half of the cost, his share would still amount to $250 a month, which he says he can't afford. He's still relatively young (28) so he is taking the risk of being uninsured rather than paying that amount. As I look around his house, I see that he has cable tv and internet, a pretty big plasma television, 2 cars and a motorcycle that he pays insurance on etc... He has stops by Starbucks on the way to work everyday for a $3.50 cup of joe. I bite my tongue when he tells me he can't afford healthcare. The reality is that he doesn't want to afford healthcare. He prefers to have the toys instead.
I've also have a relative that is struggling to make ends meet. He normally works 2 jobs but has been laid off from one of them. He has a wife and two kids and I tried to give him some advice on personal finance at a time when things were better for him, but he didn't listen. Every Christmas, the family goes on a big spending spree and even though he has a lot less income this year, this Christmas is no different. He spoils his kids and believes he's a better parent for it, but he has nothing saved toward a college education for either child and his oldest is 15. He has no emergency fund other than myself or a couple of other family members and he's an illness away from a crisis.
So how can you make sure that this doesn't happen to you.
1) Take personal responsibility for your financial well being. Blaming anyone else will not help you.
2) Live within your means! Save for what you want instead of buying it on credit.
3) Pay yourself first! Invest a little of each paycheck to increase your financial worth and treat it as another bill.
4) Have goals and a plan to acheive those goals. Redefine them when necessary.
5) Avoid habits that are costing you money. My friend's coffee habit is $70 a month that could have been invested.
If you can just implement the above 5 things, you will be farther ahead of the game than 90% of the population.
Everyone have a great Christmas and pay off those credit cards!