Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Financial Maturity?


Many of my young adult (and adult!) students have the wrong idea about what it means to become financially mature. When I ask young adults in my seminars to define how to know whether or not a person has reached financial maturity, their top three answers are:

  1. When you get your first paying job,
  2. When you have graduated from college, or
  3. When you get married.

Being financially mature has nothing to do with these life events. Instead, it has everything to do with your mindset regarding the making, keeping, and spending of money. Your money.

A financially mature person (this means you!) will habitually exhibit five key behaviors. Together these traits will make you content now, and capable of real financial independence for the rest of your life. The five habits that all financially mature individuals possess are:

  1. You save money. You save because you understand the power of compound interest. A small amount of money set aside now and allowed to grow will produce a large bonus down the road.
  2. You mind your money matters. You make your own money rather than using the "First Local Bank of Mom and Dad" as your preferred banking institution. Mom and Dad are not your personal ATM.
  3. You do your own work. You are your own best financial advisor. Sure, you take advice from others, but deep down you know that you have to do your own research about how best to handle your hard-earned cash. Don't take the word of someone else. Study it for yourself.
  4. You keep going. Every day you need to make decisions about your money, and some of them will be flat out wrong. Need to hear that again? You will make mistakes with your money; to not do so is impossible! But you will make the effort to correct them, and to not repeat them. Making mistakes is how we learn. By trying a short cut to riches and getting burned, you learn not to make that same error again! Don't avoid making a decision just because you're afraid of making a bad one. All financial decisions come with some degree of risk. The key is to watch what happens after you make a decision, and learn. Resilience in the face of mistakes is maturity.
  5. Keep it simple. You understand way down deep the old adage that "less is more." By knowing exactly what you want out of life, you will choose to spend your cash only on those needs and wants that bring you true pleasure. In this case, such simple pleasures mean more happiness and all obtained for a lot less money!

These steps are the beginning to a lifetime journey on how to efficiently handle your money as it comes to you. By working for your own cash, you allow yourself the freedom to make necessary mistakes that will teach you the skills required for becoming financially mature.

To learn more about being frugal, saving money and still having a wonderful lifestyle, please visit my friends at the Dollar Stretcher! Thanks, Gary, for posting my stuff!

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