By The Financial Panther
I like to think that I’m pretty financially healthy. At 30 years old, I’m in a fairly unique position. I’m currently debt free after paying off nearly six figures worth of student loans in just a few years. I’ve got a sizable emergency fund that should cover me in the event of a disaster. And my net worth continues to grow each year as I continue to push myself to save as much of my income as I possibly can.
We have a plan of attack for my wife’s student loans as well. If all goes as planned, we’ll have her debt paid off within a year or two. A dentist/lawyer couple in their early 30s paying off all of their student loans in just a few years isn’t just a unique proposition. It’s pretty much unheard of.
Most Americans struggle financially. When I think about it, the one theme with financial health is a willingness to do things that aren’t considered normal. If you’re a young lawyer/dentist couple like my wife and I are, the normal thing to do would be to use our paychecks to upgrade our lifestyle. We should be living large with a fancy car, a big house, and nice clothes.
But we don’t.
That’s the normal way of doing things. But normal doesn’t work for us.
Financial Health Means Choosing Not To Live Normally
The fact is, most people are financially unhealthy. Most people don’t have any savings. Most people carry huge amounts of debt. And most people opt to upgrade their life before making sure their financial house is in order.
I saw it all the time with my lawyer colleagues. Instead of paying off their debt and building up their savings, many spent their income on upgrading their lifestyle — the luxury apartment, the fancy car, the expensive clothes. My wife’s dental school friends did the same thing. It’s easy to see how someone can spend all day working and have no money leftover.
When I started my first job, I vowed not to fall into that trap. I kept living like a student and threw everything I could into my student loans. I was debt free just a few years later. And importantly, I got myself used to living on less. Imagine what I can do once my wife is earning a paycheck too.
How To Be Financially Healthy
Here’s what I think it takes to be financially healthy:
- Make debt a priority. Most people just think debt is normal. Financially healthy people know that it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to manage your debt. You need to destroy it!
- Constantly push yourself. Just like with physical health, financial health requires pushing yourself just a little bit more each day. Challenge yourself to save just a little bit more out of each paycheck. You’ll be surprised at what you can get yourself to do if you try.
- Stay humble. There’s a lot to be said about being humble. I think that lifestyle inflation happens because there’s an idea that you need to live a certain way once you reach a certain age or get a certain type of job. A sense of humbleness will go a long way towards your financial health.
For me, financial health has always been about doing things most people aren’t doing. Most people just aren’t financially healthy. If you want to be financially healthy, you have to do things out of the ordinary to get there.
And trust me, it’s worth the effort.
This blog post originally appeared June 27, 2017 on FinancialPanther.co. MetLife Foundation is a major sponsor of Financial Health Network’s ongoing consumer financial health work. Additional support for #FinHealthMatters Day and USFD provided by the Citi Foundation. To learn more about FinHealthMatters from Financial Health Network, sign up here.
By Financial Health Network on September 20, 2017.