Planning

A Made to Measure Savings Plan is a Balancing Act

Have you tried walking on stilts? It’s a balancing act through and through.

So is saving and living comfortably enough. Not easy to achieve, but once you get into the rhythm and learn to adjust your balance, it becomes doable. Very much like the made to measure approach to saving proposed in “Build a Savings Plan That Fits Your Real Life“, an article I tweeted last week and which has been re-tweeted a fair few times since.

Saving is like dieting. If the diet doesn’t suit your lifestyle and/or you are not willing to change your lifestyle to meet the diet’s requirements, you won’t stick to it. Set your savings goals too high and you’ll get discouraged when you can’t save that much; set them too low and you’re undercutting your future prospects. Either way, you won’t achieve your goal: be it weight or account size. So how do you do that?

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It’s Child’s Play: 8 Ways to Teach Kids Financial Basics

24 May is Alphabet Day in Bulgaria. It’s a celebration of learning, literacy and culture. Knowing how to read and write, getting to grips with Maths are all undoubtedly great achievements. They open up the world to a child.

But you know what? There was a much overlooked lesson I picked up in first grade. I got my first taste of financial independence: it was up to me to decide what to buy with my pocket money and I couldn’t complain to anyone if I chose poorly! With limited funds, I had limited choices. It wasn’t until I started earning my own money 10 years later, that I got more choices, but even then, part time jobs couldn’t foot much spending. The upside of making the most of a small budget is that it made it easier to start saving when I got a full time job. I’ve kept it up.

So how do you help kids learn that? You know, give them a head start in life. Bestow the gift of financial literacy.

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Austerity vs. Budgeting: Which do you prefer?

Greece is between a rock and a tough place: Do you stop pension payments to retirees to fund an interest payment on government bonds? Living on credit aggravates the money situation sooner or later – that’s where Greece is at.

The alternative is to live within your means by budgeting and prioritising. It’s no mean feat to achieve personally and even harder at national level. But it can be done. Germany is often cited as financially disciplined. Norway is lauded for stashing North Sea Oil wealth into a fund to finance future generations.

Do you have the discipline to live within your means? Can you bear austerity for a time to get out of a financial hole?

Bloomberg published a good summary article recently on how austerity has played out in the past. As I was reading it, it occurred to me that politicians don’t typically get things right, but their decisions do provide interesting lessons.

So what can history teach us about how to handle financial problems and getting back on track? Plenty, I believe.

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