Caring for your finances is similar to caring for your health: There is no panacea. There is no universal rule or comment which will ensure the well-being of every individual. That considered, an attempt can be made to sway one in a general direction:
- Try to save some of your income. Ten to fifteen percent is optimal, but strive to save as much as you can without causing undue burdens.
- Investments are important, but avoid superfluity in them. Large investments, like a house or a car, should only be made when you are in a stable financial situation. Don’t buy outside of your means; Modesty is wise in long term investments. Smaller investments, like those in the stock market, should be well considered and researched. Don’t buy individual stocks in the hopes of quickly accruing wealth; If you can, invest in diversified mutual funds.
- Keep track of your savings and investments carefully, and do not fear budgeting. Keep short term savings, emergency funds that could reasonably last you four to six months; long term savings, for larger investments listed above; and a checking account that you actively keep mark of. It’s not always easy to balance these things, and prioritizing how much to place where will vary based on your given situation. Use discretion.
- Be mindful that not every dollar is worth saving. The lifeblood of a capitalist society is superfluous purchases, so do buy things you want if it is in your means and won’t set you off too much, but try not to be careless. When buying something you don’t need, see if you can get it for cheaper elsewhere, or make sure what you’re buying is worth the cost. Will it make you happy beyond temporary joy in having spent money? Will it contribute to some peace of mind, or to some sense of purpose? Will it have a reasonable life span; That is, will you still use it or be able to use it, in a week, a month, a year? Question yourself and review your decisions so you can learn going forward.
- A dent or a scratch in your car doesn't necessarily need repair right away, and the same goes for any small matter. If you can fix it yourself, then try to do such, but don’t let silly things waste your time and money.
This financial advice, however, is in vain without an ideological framework. The global economy is the sum of the countless decisions all people make, the interactions between them, and the histories which prompted them. We are each but a single cell in the catacombs of society, with limited autonomy as to the development of its aggregate structure. It’s important to remember this. Often, the struggle our neighbour faces is ignored when we stumble upon monetary gain: Not out of bitterness, but rather arrogance; to believe that we are so great as to deserve our success, we must believe they deserve their failure. But, in fact, neither is so. Economies are driven by the whims and actions of the actors within them; They are a complex mesh of psychological movements and sociological interactions, and as such lead to an immeasurable range of outcomes. Economic success, as well as economic failure, is a pareidolia imprinted on luck. Like Sisyphus and his boulder, our attempts to influence the sum of humanity’s decisions are fairly empty. But we must push on. Though one cell does not make much, thousands of them can build a wondrous thing. Seek comfort, seek companionship, seek understanding of the world, of others, and of yourself. In failure, have hope, and strive for more. In success, have compassion, and strive for the betterment of others. Above all, embrace and cherish your humanity. Perhaps, then, financial well-being will no longer be a grave concern.