The most financially savvy people aren’t afraid to ask for advice; they know their own strengths and weaknesses, and are also good at setting goals and priorities. Here are four traits that those who are shrewdest about money have in common.
They develop emotional intelligence. Decisions about investing and spending money are often driven by our emotions. The financially savvy know their emotional triggers about spending and are able to manage and reign them in when necessary. For example, a person who grew up in very humble circumstances may want to shower their family with a lavish lifestyle to make up for prior feelings of want and need – but at the expense of investing and planning for the future. Others are so driven by their need for instant gratification that they are not able to discipline themselves to save. These latter folks might benefit from systematic, “pay yourself first” programs to ensure that they do, in fact, save enough.
They comprehend and increase their human capital. Did you know that there are two kinds of wealth: your financial wealth and your human capital? Human capital is your skills, knowledge and ability to earn money. Our society and workplaces are changing at an exponential rate due to technological advances that are in their infancy. Failing to stay current with technology and other skills can cause a dramatic decline in the value of a person’s human capital. The savviest individuals are not only constantly working on their human capital, but also consciously develop other skills as a backup plan, or potential second gig. With longevity increasing due to medical advances, many of us will need that second act to provide an income stream in our later years, or merely for the social interaction to stay healthy emotionally.
They know what they spend, and how to differentiate between wants and needs. Rich or poor, many people don’t have an accurate idea of what it costs to maintain their lifestyle, and fund their goals. Those who are financially astute know what their fixed and variable expenses are, and they are able to quantify their goals in both dollars and timeframes. Learning the difference between wants and needs isn’t just an exercise for pre-school children. Many adults never learned the distinction.
They know how to communicate to their professional advisors – and their spouse. Those smartest about money have an accurate handle on their assets and liabilities, and they get to know and properly utilize their professional advisors – their financial planner, attorney, and accountant. If they are in a relationship, they make sure that their partner is well acquainted with the advisors as well. Financial information is shared between the couple. There are no financial secrets. Passwords are available to both, and expense information is readily shared.
Everyone can work on developing these traits. A CFP® professional can be an excellent coach in helping you learn sound financial habits, and reach personal and financial goals.