All of us would like to have enough money to be comfortable now and later. Sometimes it's difficult at best to have one, let alone the other. What kind of habits do we need to become comfortable now and always?
Pay Attention - One of the first, most important things to do is to KNOW what our net worth is. Our net worth is everything we OWN MINUS EVERYTHING WE OWE. Once we know this we need to start paying attention to every dime that comes in and goes out of our pocket. The best way to do this is to have a budget. Know where all of your hard earned money is going to go before that check is ever deposited into your account! You can't be comfortable in your finances if you don't know what you have or where it goes, so PAY ATTENTION!
Goals, Goals, Goals - The next powerful tool is to set some goals. Have some short term goals (like saving for a car, trip or maybe a new outfit to start) and some long term ones (like paying off your house or putting in 15% of your income into retirement). Make sure you write them down and that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time sensitive. "I want to save up for a trip this summer", "I want to be out of debt by paying an extra $500 a month". Give yourself small rewards as you achieve your goals.
Death to Debt - The number one goal to set that will benefit you the most in the long run is annihilating debt. When you have no debts, your money piles up more and so does your level of "comfort". Having huge amounts of debt crushes our spirit and brings anxiety, stress and even a strain on relationships. No debt not only frees up your money, it frees up your mind and spirit. Dumping debt as fast as you can is a goal that will benefit all of your other goals the most.
Live on Less - Living on considerable less than what you earn is a good way to achieve your goals and then some. When you get a raise, don't raise your standard of living. Put it in savings! Since you will be rewarding yourself a bit when you reach each goal, you will still feel the rewards of raises and money saved, but, you will also continue to build your wealth because you are being frugal.
Don't Spoil It - When it comes to our children, no matter how old they are, we have a tendency to want to "do" as much as possible for them and usually that comes from our wallets. If your kids are young now, train them to learn to earn the money you give them. As they grow older, teach them that if they want certain things in their lives, they will need to get a job. When they are grown, rewarding them once in a while because they are doing a good job taking care of themselves, is far better for them--and for your wallet--then carrying them through financially all of their hardships. People need to learn by doing so make sure you apply that to your children.
Make Your Money Work - We all love free money! Investing our money so that it earns interest or grows just by sitting in that investment or account, is one of the best ways to make our green goals go up! Start investing early and often. It's like planting a garden. There is some work, sacrifice and a small bit of cost, but, if you tend that garden, the benefits of it will be far more than what you spent or the work you put in. It will actually save you trips to the store, it will taste better and be better for you--plus you have the satisfaction that you did it yourself. Eventually, the garden may grow so much that you have so much extra that you have to give the fruit of your labor away! THAT is what investing your money does for you.
Just like a lot of things in our lives, something that is worth having takes a bit of work. If you want to be financially comfortable in your life, you will need to put some effort in and apply a lot of different tactics to make that happen. In the long run, you and your family will be so thankful you took the time to be thoughtful about your finances. So start now and see what you can make happen!