Squirreling away money is part of the theme of Squirrelers, but a real squirrel ended up becoming one of the stars of the 2011 Major League Baseball postseason. Yes, the good ole ‘Rally Squirrel’ worked his magic, as after his presence the St. Louis Cardinals ended up eventually taking the lead and winning a big game vs. the Philadelphia Phillies!
It’s a fun story, as you can see in this article on what just happened in this playoff game. The video shows a squirrel running in front of home plate, distracting the pitcher as he was throwing the ball. Since the home team ended up winning the game, this Rally Squirrel ended up becoming a viral hit – with sports fans everywhere getting a laugh at how the squirrel ran on the field to much hoopla. Hey, baseball is a superstitious game, so if people want to rally around a squirrel for good luck, so be it! There was even a twitter account (@BuschSquirrel) set up, celebrating the creature that made it’s presence felt at Busch Stadium in St.Louis.
So since this is Squirrelers, after all, we have to get inspired by the Rally Squirrel and think about how people can make a comeback victory in personal finance!
Many people truly are behind in the game of money. Whether it’s taking on too much credit card debt, going underwater on a mortgage, going through health issues, a crippling divorce – you name it, it happens to people due sometimes to their own irresponsibility but other times due to truly unfortunate circumstances out of their control. Regardless, playing catch up is no fun.
Along those lines, taking a cue from the newly famous Rally Squirrel, here are 10 ways that people can make a personal finance comeback:
- Focus on intellectual honesty. What? Intellectual honesty? Yeah, I know that may seem out of place – but I think it’s important to embrace reality in all areas of life rather than hide behind half-truths or lack of knowledge. None of us will ever know it all, or even close to it. However, we can take the approach of objectively viewing situations as they are, which helps us make better decisions.
- Determine what went wrong. Once we commit to honestly looking at things with reality in mind, we can try to assess how we got into a bind in the first place. It’s important to understand what went wrong, figuring out exactly what decisions led to the poor results. As a part of this, we can try to understand what led to those decisions being made. Why did we do such things?
- Resolve to succeed. If we realistically assess what happened and why it happened, we can then focus on succeeding. Visualize how great it would be to make a comeback – getting out of debt, having an emergency fund, or whatever your goal is. Goals are so important.
- Know your cash flows. There are two parts to this: understanding your sources of income, and understanding your categories of expenses. The former seems easier, the latter seems trickier. With respect to expenses, begin to track your expenses down to the penny. Understand how much money you are spending, and on what you’re spending. I know for myself, it’s often enlightening to see exactly how much money might be going toward discretionary things.
- Discern wants vs. needs. I talk about this a lot here, but I think it’s important to figure out what we truly need and what we simply want. Needs come first, and then we can enjoy our wants – if there’s room for them!
- Make a budget. Once you know how much money you make, where your money is going, and what’s truly needed, you can make a budget. Be sure to factor in some leeway for totally unexpected expenses. An emergency fund is vital, as many of us know.
- Protect and grow your income. Figuring out wants and needs, and budgeting, play a big role in controlling expenses. That’s huge. That being said, there are two sides to the equation – and you do need to actually earn money before you can save it. Managing your career to try to avoid losing income, while focusing on advancing your career and making money, are important actions. Also, in this economy, it’s probably a good idea to diversify income streams.
- Review your credit reports. Excellent credit can help you get necessary loans, and at better rates than you would otherwise get with less than stellar credit. Thus, it’s important to monitor your credit reports annually, reviewing each of the reports. If there are any problems, you can work to get them resolved as soon as possible. You never know what could be holding you back unless you actually check the reports first!
- Pay bills automatically. This saves time, and frees you up to do other things. Moreover, it helps mitigate the risks of missing a payment. Also, remember that one of the people to whom want to set up automatic payments is you!
- Continue to Learn. There are many principles of personal finance which are timeless, that are easy to learn and can help guide us throughout our lives. For example, learning about saving and investing. However, we’ll never know it all – and there are tons of aspects of perosnal finance that just take time to learn. Plus, the world isn’t static – it’s dynamic. Technology changes, but so do markets. We’ve seen how volatile things can be! Best to invest in ourselves, and practice continuing financial education while staying on top of current events.
Well, admittedly it’s kind of a stretch to tie that Rally Squirrel story to personal finance. Baseball, money, and squirrels? Yeah, I know.
Hey, if nothing else, it gives us an excuse to revisit how people can make a financial comeback. Ultimately, that enables money to be squirreled away 🙂
My Questions for You
Any thoughts on this list? Is there anything you would add to it or remove?
Have you had any experience with making a personal finance comeback?