The basics of money management…sort of

Posted on July 7, 2014

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Money management

Money. It’s useful stuff. Son, when you have money, the possibilities are endless. You can fold it into interesting shapes or stick it under a table leg to make it stable. You can roll it up and shoot spitwads. With enough practice, you can blow on it and make an annoying buzzing sound. Use it to measure right angles; tape it over one eye and play pirate; tape 20 bills together and make a streamer for your kite. Here in Canada where the money is plastic, you can melt it down and mold it into nifty shapes.

You, however, chose to run out and buy $26 of candy immediately upon getting paid for mowing the neighbor’s lawn. It’s a waste of good money.

Picture yourself camping and you realize you forgot to bring toilet paper. Now imagine your relief when you reach into your pocket and find a hundred-dollar bill to wipe with. Bet you’d be glad you saved your money then.

And what are you going to do when all your friends say, “Hey, let’s go up to the 30th floor of this building and drop money down just to watch it flutter slowly to the street,” and you have no money? Embarrassing? You bet.

It’s time, then, that you learned about managing your money. The keys to good money management are setting goals and saving. Business gurus talk about setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, you have a goal to own a Bugatti when you turn 16. If you save your money, you’ll only need to mow 124,999 more lawns to afford it. Plus another 15,000 lawns for the taxes. That’s only 128 lawns a day between now and your 16th birthday.

Is the goal specific? Absolutely, you want a $2.5 million car by the time you’re 16.

Is it measurable? Sure, it may take a while but even I can count to 2.5 million.

Attainable: We already own a lawn mower.

Realistic? Well, Simon Cowell owns a Bugatti and I bet he doesn’t even know how to mow a lawn, so yeah, it’s realistic.

Timely? You bet. You want it right now but you’ll settle for your 16th birthday.

But mowing a gazillion lawns is useless if you run off and spend the cash within a minute of earning it. Son, when I was a kid we respected money. We used to save up for months then sneak down to the movie hall and watch a double feature picture show for a nickel. Wait—that was my parents. Still, I used to save up for at least an hour before I’d run down to the local candy store. And I wouldn’t buy $26 dollars worth either; I’d get maybe $5.75 worth of candy, which in today’s dollars would only be about $25.82.

Set goals and save, that’s pretty much all there is to managing your money. I’ve now taught you everything I know so if you fail to attain a Bugatti by your 16th birthday don’t blame me.

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