Lately I have taken an interest in finances and I have started to read some financial books. Now that I have turned 30 it is time to start thinking about retirement! :) I bought a couple of books used off of Amazon - I thought it would be a good start to buy the books for less than a dollar each (plus shipping of course.)
So far, I have learned two main things: My finances are a lot better than some people's! I really didn't know how many people are in debt and live way beyond their means. I mean, I know that people have loans for cars and houses and big stuff like that, but I didn't know that "The average American household with at least one credit card has nearly $9,200 in credit card debt." (This is according to CardWeb.com.) Half of all Americans have credit card debt. That is a lot! So that made me feel better.
The second thing I have learned is that I have a lot to learn... I do want my money to grow, but there are so many options out there. But reading the books is a start, at least. I have to say that I prefer the books with a more practical approach as opposed to the ones who talk a lot about the emotional reasons for spending and poor financial habits (for instance, someone might be a big spender because of their family's spending habits.) I think these things are important, don't get me wrong, it is just that while I have lots of issues :) I don't think I have any major financial issues. So I am really enjoying reading the books that tell me what to do: Open a money market account. Get your credit score.
Because it is still somewhat expensive, I haven't bought Suze Orman's Women and Money, but I think I will. I read a little bit of it in the bookstore and I like her month-by-month approach. I have also found The Millionaire Next Door interesting. The authors do a good job of showing the difference between income and net worth. Some people we think of as very rich, may just have a very expensive life style, because they don't save much of their money. It is encouraging to read that being thrifty and establishing good habits make a good foundation. (It is less encouraging, however, to read that the typical millionaire is a 57-year old man, married to a very thrifty wife, working either as a self-employed entrepreneur or in a profession such as doctor, lawyer, or accountant. I don't really fit any of those!)
As far as my spending habits go, I am not too bad, but I could definitely stand to cut back on lunch spending. I am pretty good but I still like to eat lunch out once or twice a week. I have also been known to spend a bit every time I go to Target - so I will try not to go very often, and go on a mission when I do go. (For instance, I think they have good and cheap work out wear, so I will keep buying that there.) And then there is travel... I love traveling and I don't think I will cut back too much there. But the good thing is that I love to travel to Central America, which is a lot cheaper than for instance Europe.
(Speaking of lunch spending, last Friday some co-workers introduced me to "Credit Card Roulette." This basically means that everybody puts their credit card on the table and the waitress picks one... I was lucky as my card was not picked, but I am a little worried about today's lunch!)