Being a real adult means being in-tune with your finances. Now, finances are a complex thing for most of us to understand, seriously… I’m trying to figure it out daily. But over the past decade or so of being a full-fledged adult, I’ve come up with a few money rules that I have to follow to make sure I stay on track.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, or I absolutely cannot live without another pair of shoes (spoiler alert: I really can) but I’ve built these money rules as a guideline that I do my very best to follow so I stay on top of my finances and live with a fiscally responsible attitude.
I’ve you’re just starting to think about your finances, or you feel like you’ve gone a little off-the-rails as of late, I sincerely hope that sharing these money rules with you will give you a starting line to get on track and sail towards a great financial future!
Don’t buy the first cute thing you see
This is by no means the most important of my money rules, but it’s the one I follow most religiously: never buy anything you haven’t thought about purchasing before.
Absolutely no impulse buys.
My rule is a minimum of a 24-hour wait between seeing it and purchasing it to make sure it’s not a fling-like decision.
I hate wasting money, and quite frankly there are a lot of things I want. But I find that my 24-hour minimum rule works like a charm when it comes to ridding my bank account of impulse buys.
Most of the time, it turns out that I don’t need, and more importantly, want after waiting it out. They end up being fleeting footnotes in the day.
For larger items, my rule usually extends to 72-hours, and 1-week on BIG purchases.
Build a budget
Yes, you should budget. I know, I know. But it’s boring and hard and I don’t even understand numbers, but…
It’s the adult thing to do.
Budgeting isn’t meant to trick you into becoming a pseudo accountant, nor is it going to make you give up things you love. Nor is budgeting going to be some magic solution to make you be more responsible with your money.
What budgeting does is make you sit down and actually think about your money, assess how well you are at handling it and make you painfully aware if you’re living beyond your means. All of which you 100 percent need to do.
Traditional budgeting doesn’t work for everyone, if that’s the case for you then give the bucket budget a chance.
Have an emergency fund
There are very few feelings that are worse than that pit in your stomach that forms when you realize that you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to making rent for the month, or the fact that you’re engine just blew and you don’t have the funds to fix it.
An emergency fund is there to help make sure that you always have a safety net to make sure that there’s never a time where you’re completely and utterly too broke to do something that you genuinely need to do. Not want to, but need to.
That’s why one of my big money rules is that you need to set up an emergency fund. An account that has enough money to cover 3 to 9 months of your expenses so if you suddenly lose your job, bust your car or break your leg, you can afford to pay for it.
Curious about emergency funds or just simply not sure where to start? Girl, you need one, start reading!
Live below your means
If you take in a monthly salary of $3,000, and your rent is $2,000, chances are you’re going to end up borrowing money to make your day-to-day payments on a regular basis.
With your rent, cell phone bill, utilities, internet, Netflix payment — you name it, there’s simply no way that you’re going to be able to live within your means if your housing alone takes up two-thirds of your monthly income.
You only make so much money and it’s important that you leave within that, preferably below it.
A general rule-of-thumb as said by financial experts (of which I am not one) is that your rent should take up about 30 percent of your monthly net income (so, your income after taxes). That would make your income v. rent the following:
- If you take home $3,000 your rent should hover around $900
- If you take home $4,000 your rent should hover around $1,200
- If you take home $5,000 your rent should hover around $1,500
- If you take home $6,000 your rent should hover around $1,800
Let’s get real though, I understand rental markets and if you were looking for a place in my city for under $1,000, you’d be hard pressed to find out. It’s not like it’s impossible but you’ll have to sacrifcie things that are probably really important to you (numero number one for me? My laundry machine). Point is, housing markets are volatile and you’re not in control, so the 30 percent rule might not work for you.
With that in mind, this money rule really is to make sure you can afford to live on what you make. If you don’t make enough you need to reduce your bills or get more money. And honestly, from experience, it’s easier to get more money.
I cannot stress this enough, do not spend money that you don’t have. It’s just going to get you into trouble.
Work hard but don’t get paid enough? Read my tips on getting a raise this year!
Pay your debts (before they’re due)
Having a ton of debt is a really good way for you to feel out of control when it comes to your finances. And it snowballs out of control so fast. Once it’s gone, it’s a real pain in the buttox to get out from under it.
Now, there are differences when it comes to debt. Some debt is high interest and some is low interest. If you have student loans like me, for example, they’re likely a low-interest debt. But something like a credit card tends to be a high-interest debt. It’s the high-interest stuff you need to worry about.
It’s one of my money rules (though I admit straying from time-to-time) to stay as far away from high-interest debt as you can. This doesn’t mean not using a credit card or a line of credit, these things help you grow your credit (us single ladies have to worry about our credit, seriously)!
But it does mean having a plan when it comes to paying off that debt, like paying it off before the end of the month or even right after you’ve made the purchase. While you want to use tools that will help you grow your credit, you also want to avoid getting in over your head.
But the most important money rule related to debt is always, always, always pay your credit card on time.
Buy what you actually want
This money rule isn’t about buying anything you want, it’s about sticking to your guys when you know you want something specific.
A few years ago my mother really wanted an iPad, so we went to the store to get her an iPad. But, iPads are expensive and the sales guy told her that purchasing an Android tablet would be practically the same thing as an iPad, so she bought it. Want to guess how many times she used her Android tablet? Maybe 10.
She honestly wanted an iPad but bought something else in its place to save a few hundred dollars. But it turns out that the replacement was not practically the same thing as what she really wanted and she ended up wasting $500 instead of saving $300.
By no means should you break the bank to purchase an iPad over an Android tablet, but if you absolutely know what you want, buy that. Even if it means you have to wait a bit longer to afford it. Otherwise, it might end up being a much more expensive purchase than you’d expected.
A guide to Single Girl’s money rules
I’m one that believes that while rules are helpful to guide you, but sometimes they’re meant to be broken…
That said, when it comes to money rules, it’s important to remember that being a single adult means that you need to rely on you to get your finances under control, and you need to continuously update your financial knowledge.
Financial freedom is a big topic these days. It’s the idea that you don’t have to live to work, and that money doesn’t control your every move.
You want to spend the summer in Paris? You want to update your car so you can take a road trip across America? You want to spend three weeks in Disney World once a year (#goals)? You want to spend more time living life, and less time working?
If financial freedom is your goal, following these money rules will help you get one small but meaningful step closer!
Need some money-related inspiration?
If you’re looking for more insights on personal finance and saving money, check out some of our favourite money-related articles:
- How To Save Money On Glasses (seriously, the last time I purchased glasses I got five pairs plus sunglasses for less than $150)
- Get Insurance Before Your House Burns Down (seriously, mine did… well sort of, either way you need insurance)
- 2019 Guide to Side Hustles (making money is a great way to be able to save more money)
Personal finance book spotlight
Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money seriously mad an impact on my persona view of money. If you consistently have a bad attitude towards money it becomes much harder to spend it wisely and attract it!
Jen has a funny charm, great information and an even better attitude, which makes reading this book a breeze (seriously, it took me about two days).
If you’re a Single Girl who wants to be a financially-savvy real adult, then it’s time to take money seriously and You Are A Badass At Making Money can be a quick and fun way to dip your toe in!
p.s. Just a heads up that I am in no way a financial advisor, just someone who cares about my money and (sometimes) manages it like a real adult. Sometimes. This article may also contain affiliate links.