I don’t know about you, but when I was in college, I would often create a cheat sheet for each class I was taking. I would take a blank piece of paper and write down little notes, ideas, or key points to help me remember topics we discussed in class. Most of the time, this paper would become crammed with words and looked very unorganized (not to me, of course).
I created this cheat sheet as a way of helping my mind remember everything we had talked about over the entire semester. Reviewing it helped me with my final exam preparation, to make sure that I passed the test.
No matter if you are still in school or not, we are ALL taking part in the ultimate test called LIFE. This test doesn’t happen all at once, like it would at the end of a class in school; rather, we have parts of this test at different points of our journey through life. These test parts are pivotal moments where we get to discover just how well we prepared for what life throws our way.
Some parts of this test come suddenly, making preparing for it hard. Other parts come gradually and we have time to fully prepare. To me one thing is certain…all of us were born with gifts, talents, and the cognitive know-how to help ourselves pass these tests. I have learned that with some preparation ahead of time, I can feel confident for what comes my way.
It’s that idea of preparation that I bring you my personal cheat sheet for life’s financial tests. For me, the parts of my life test that I’ve struggled with the most have been related to finances. Many of you are the same. It’s to this group that I want to speak to today.
Everyone’s test will be different, but I believe that five specific key points should be on everyone’s financial cheat sheet. If you can prepare for your next financial test with these five points, you will have a better chance of passing that test with flying colors.
Key Point #1 – Remember the Basics
This point will sound like a vinyl record that is stuck and playing over and over and over again. You have heard it before and you’ll hear it again…budgeting still works. Shocker…I know. It’s such a basic component of money management. If you aren’t budgeting, get on it! If you are, I would challenge you to try and squeeze your budget further.
As a part of budgeting, learning how to save money also is a big deal. Learn to live on less. Learn to be frugal. Skimp and save to help you have a better financial future. Learning how to save money will help you, over the long-term, save for future financial emergencies, which are nothing more than parts of your life test.
Key Point #2 – Get out of Debt
Everyone knows that debt is crushing our society. It’s ruining lives and taking names! Debt can debilitate the best of financial minds. Keep your finances current. If you are debt, learn how to create a debt destruction plan. Commit to no longer going farther and farther in debt. Then, make a plan to get out of it completely. You will never regret having spent the time, energy, and resources on yanking yourself out of debts open grasp.
Key Point #3 – Be Disciplined
The word discipline is an adjective. We can choose to be disciplined, but it does require action. If you want to be disciplined in your financial affairs, then you need to keep some boundaries and rules. Learn to stay within those rules. Discipline is a value that is hard to come by these days. Those who have it succeed…period. They know how to grit their teeth and just get it done.
Key Point #4 – Sacrifice for the Future
Along with discipline, you need to keep the future in mind. What is your future? I hope that my future consists of some serious skiing, and a house on the beach. That is my dream…and I am willing to sacrifice now for that future. Discipline is the grit; sacrifice is the willingness that drives that grit. I would encourage you to think of the future and sacrifice to get where you want to go.
Key Point #5 – Get Your Ducks in a Row
Disaster can strike anyone. Young or old, male or female. I’m talking about any type of disaster too: car accident, house fire, or even your spouse dying. What do all three of those things have in common? They can all potentially ruin your financial situation if you aren’t ready for it.
Get your ducks in a row. Make sure that your butt is covered for life’s unexpected and sudden tests. Get health, home, and life insurance. Get a living will and trust with your spouse so that there are no what-ifs about your assets or children. Do the necessary things now, to make sure that you aren’t left in a situation that is nearly impossible to get out of.
I hope this will only be the start of your own cheat sheet; keep cramming it with notes, ideas, and key points to remember so that you can triumph over your next financial test. Remember the basics, get out of debt, be disciplined, sacrifice for the future, and get your ducks in a row so that you too can be confident to face whatever life throws your way.