A 7-Step Plan to Create a Great Financial Future 31

A 7-Step Plan to Create a Great Financial Future

The following article is a guest post.

These are rough times. People are graduating with tons of debt, almost no job prospects, and no financial security whatsoever.

Past generations used to consider owning a home as a rite of passage to adulthood, but now you’re kind of lucky to be able to rent something that wouldn’t take a huge chunk out of your measly monthly salary.

Everything might sound bleak at the moment, but there are still a lot of things you can do to be able to secure your financial future.

Here are 7 steps to get you started:

1. Save Early, Save Now.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but there are still lots of people who live paycheck to paycheck, with no savings to fall back on in case their current living situation goes awry.

You wouldn’t want this to happen to you.

Though current financial dogma says that you should save at least 20% of your monthly income, this isn’t always possible.

Try to start out small. Save just any amount every month, no matter how small it is. Then gradually increase it if you can.

Having money saved in the bank can not only get you out of sticky situations should they come but also give you peace of mind.

2. Invest In Yourself.

Your financial future is also highly dependent on your ability to make money.

Your earning potential is what you would call a human capital. The more you invest in it, the more your chances of getting something out of it in the future.

So, how do you increase your human capital?
Answer: Invest in yourself.

Read. Learn a new skill. Take up courses to hone your old ones. Continuously improve yourself.

Your knowledge and skillset are among your life’s greatest assets.

3. Have an Investor’s Mindset.

Some people earn a lot but don’t know what to do with their money. Some people don’t have money but know how to invest.

Earning money and investing money are two entirely different skills. If you’re good at making money, you still need to have an investor’s mindset if you want to make the most out of what you earn.

So learn everything you can about investing. Know what compounding is (it’s when you make your money work for you and that you can invest and grow it) so that you would be able to accumulate your wealth a.s.a.p.

4. Keep Loans To A Minimum.

Loans are essentially financial baggage and can ruin your financial future.

Leave a couple of installment loans (you can easily get installment loans from mtploans.com) unpaid for a couple of months, and you’re bound to run into a few problems that could give you a crippling headache.

The fact that they’re easy to acquire further exacerbates the problem that people have with loans.

However, in this day and age, taking out loans can be necessary.

Should you need to acquire a loan, make sure that there is:

  • a good reason for you to do so, like paying for hospitalization or your kids’ tuition;
  • logical sense behind it.

If you’re buying a car or a house, it makes great financial sense for you to use loans (provided that you can afford the monthly payments, of course).

5. Have Short-Term and Long-Term Goals.

Keep your goals in your sight so that you can track them and take note of the progress you’re making towards their actualization.

A short-term financial goal usually doesn’t take too much capital and has a relatively short investment horizon. An example of this would be spending for a car or paying for a two-year graduate degree.

Long-term goals are often related to major life stages like retirement, marriage, and children. These have longer investment horizons and cost way more than what you would spend on short term goals.

6. Formulate a Financial Plan.

You can use a tool or a financial planner to make a financial plan. This plan can help you keep track of every financial aspect of your life, and can also help you realize how much and for HOW LONG you can invest for you to reach your financial goals.

An emergency fund should be at least six months of your current salary. If you still don’t have one, better start building one up right now.

This fund will only be used only when it’s necessary to do so. It can keep you out of sticky financial situations, and help keep you afloat should anything bad happen to you, your family and your finances.

Hopefully, the tips above gave you a general idea on how to secure your financial future. It’s hard, but it’s entirely doable and can be achieved with the right mindset.

Get The Lifestyle Designer's Digest
Directly into your inbox every Monday.
Previous ArticleNext Article

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience 6

The Five Elements of Flawless Customer Experience

Providing a flawless customer experience is the ultimate goal for any business.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a customer experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. In fact, there’s so much involved that it can almost seem overwhelming.

However, providing a flawless customer experience becomes much easier when you approach the task through these five distinct elements:

Time
Understanding
Ownership of Emotions
The Unexpected
Follow-Through

Time

When it comes to your customers’ satisfaction, time is essential. Think of how a great experience at a new restaurant quickly sours if you’re left waiting for your food to arrive. Think of how your excitement over a great department store sale turns into frustration as you stand in line for what seems like hours.

Time is your most valuable resource and it is up to you to make sure you’re using your customers’ time wisely.

This is why restaurants have comfortable waiting areas with drinks and appetizers, or why airports have lounges with restaurants, shops, and even bars.

If your customers are being forced to wait for a service, make them feel as if their time spent is not wasted. The more positive drivers you offer customers, the less likely they are to grow dissatisfied with their experience.

Think of how you can implement this in your own business. Are there places where you can help fill customers’ time? Are there places where technology can be used to cut down on the time it takes to complete a task? Remember, it’s the customers’ time that should be valued, not your own.

Understanding

How to Use Content Marketing to Boost Your Business 6 Marketing Influencers You Must Follow

You must understand what your customers want, when they want it, and how.

While this may seem daunting, getting a better understanding of your customers doesn’t take millions of dollars, complex data analytics, and a degree in psychology. Instead, all it takes is a simple look. Watch their process, engage with them, ask them questions, and listen to them.  

How are customers interacting with your product? What’s the first thing they do when they enter your store? What’s the last thing they do before they leave? How long are they spending in each department? Do you notice anything that hampers their experience?

Take a look at your competitors. How are your potential customers interacting with them? What does this business offer that you don’t or vice versa? What is your, as Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen says, “job to be done?” What are your customers hiring your product or service to accomplish? Understand why your users are turning to your products.

Ownership of Emotions

Many companies have already taken hold of their customers’ emotions, though cynically. Subliminal advertising is a key example. However, the ownership of emotions does not have to be cynical. When used correctly, it can be the “holy grail” for companies.

Owning emotions begins with the aforementioned ability to understand. When you truly understand a customer’s choices and then act to make the experience better, you’re building a relationship of trust. That trust is the foundation of emotional ownership.

One way to build this trust is to reduce the “emotional” noise that surrounds your customers. Let them know that, even on their worst day, your business or product is there for them and that it will be a constant in their lives.

Think of restaurants and the long wait times you have to endure when they’re busy. Think of how angry—or “hangry”—you feel as you stand around, waiting for your table, and listening to your stomach growl. However, think of how some restaurants are able to reduce that emotional noise by serving you finger foods and drinks as you wait.

Also, seek to understand what emotionally motivates your customers.

Why should they be motivated to visit your store or use your product? To feel confident? Free? Unique? Secure? Successful? Research shows that all human beings are motivated by one of those factors.

The Unexpected

Experiences become stronger and more memorable when they’re accompanied by an element of surprise. Surprise can be addictive, which will only keep your customers coming back for more.

Think about mailing your customers or clients small packages with gifts and swag. Everyone loves to get mail and everyone loves free stuff, especially when it’s least expected.

A surprise doesn’t have to be a huge flash mob (though it could be!). Hand out snacks at your store. Is it a cold day? Give your customers hot chocolate or warm punch. Is it a client’s birthday? Send a card! Even a small note of thanks for a customer’s business is a nice little surprise.

The most important thing to remember: simply be sincere and don’t become predictable. Chocolates on hotel pillows were once a great surprise for guests. However, now that their wow-factor has faded, hotels are continuously trying to get back to the “unexpected.”

Follow-Through

You’ve made promises and established goals. The only thing that’s left is to follow through on them. This starts with creating your mission statement, one that you, your employees, and your customers can commit to it. This will define your customer experience.

Your mission statement must promise to impact yourself/your business, the community, or the world. It may commit to impacting one, or all three. However, whatever it promises, you must follow through on. Your customers’ trust, and thus their experience, depends on it.

More about these five elements can be discovered in Unforgettable: Designing Customer Experiences that Stick, to be published in 2018.

***
Kyle H. David has made a career in technology and entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he formed The Kyle David Group, now KDG. Over the past 16 years, KDG has grown at a rapid pace, attracting clients ranging from the United States Senate to major financial institutions, international nonprofits, and Division I universities.