In celebration of my 40th birthday today, I compiled the 40 Rules of Money that I have learned &/or followed over the past 40 years (listed in no particular order)

  1. Money is simply a tool. It’s not good or evil. It just embodies your own belief system.
  2. Money is often a symptom. As I frequently say “The problem with money is often not a money problem”.
  3. Tracking your spending will add incredible clarity to your financial life.
  4. Save Now, Buy Later. DON’T Buy Now, Pay Later.
  5. Stay away from deals that sound like “0% interest for the next 12 months” or “it only costs $50 every 2 weeks”. The merchant is trying to sell you something you cannot afford and is manipulating the numbers to make you feel like you can afford it.
  6. Teach your kids about money when they’re young. It will be a lifetime gift to instill in them proper money management skills.
  7. Have fun! Life is too short to save every penny BUT do think about your financial future as well. A balance between today and tomorrow is essential.
  8. Have all your financial papers organized in one spot, “Your Money Corner”. You will quickly find any financial record you are looking for.
  9. Convert all your bills and statements to electronic formats to help you reduce the paper clutter.
  10. Use calendar reminders to avoid penalties/fines whenever possible – to file your taxes on time, to return the books to the library the day they are due, to fill out your parking meter when it expires.
  11. Review your utility bills before paying them, especially your cellular phone. They often contain mistakes and you might overpay for nothing.
  12. Have a regular date with your money. You need to give it regular attention, not only when it’s not going well.
  13. It’s important to get a handle on your Latte Factor, whatever it may be. For some it is an actual latte, but for others it might be lottery tickets, tobacco or iTunes. (Read more here)
  14. Have a long, detailed and honest money conversation with your partner before moving in together. (Read more here)
  15. Do some inner work to uncover your subconscious money beliefs that are running your life. Understanding your money archetypes will also help uncover who you are with money.
  16. Burying your head in the sand when it comes to your money will not get you out of the situation you are in. You must face it head first, even if it feels scary and overwhelming.
  17. Differentiate between your real needs and your mere wants. It will prevent you from overspending. (Read more here)
  18. Calculate your net worth (i.e. your financial weight) once a year to measure your progress in dollar terms.
  19. BUT remember not to confuse your Net Worth with your Self Worth. Who you are as a person has little to do with your assets and debts. You were born worthy, when you possessed nothing yet.
  20. Giving and Sharing are crucial ingredients on the path to wealth. Giving from the heart opens the channels to receiving.
  21. Money and Spirituality are not mutually exclusive. Through education and an open mind, you can find a way to live in peace and balance between the material world and the spiritual one.
  22. Having an emergency fund made up of CASH (not your line of credit!) is crucial to staying on track, especially when you are paying down your debts
  23. Writing down your S.M.A.R.T. financial goals and prioritizing them will give you a sense of direction and will make it easier to track your progress.( Read more here)
  24. Although you may feel like you are the only one who can’t figure out “how this money thing works” or you are the only one who can’t manage well, KNOW that others are not managing better than you, they are simply not showing it!
  25. Avoid spending too much time on social media. There are many current studies that demonstrate how you get financial envy from comparing your life to others. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. Seneca
  26. Keeping Up with the Joneses” is making everyone broke. The Joneses are broke but you don’t know it, and you are broke because you want to keep up with them. You are better off making decisions based on your own financial reality.
  27. Buying more stuff will not make you a happier person. As George Carlin so well said:Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body”
  28. READ, READ, READ. No one is born knowing how to manage money. Only through education can you can get the self-confidence and the financial knowledge you need.
  29. It’s okay to ask for help when you can’t manage. You are not a failure because you have financial challenges. Asking for help is simply a step to start moving in the right direction. (Read more here)
  30. Manage your big annual expenses by saving for them on a regular basis (tuition fees, municipal taxes, or an upcoming trip). For example, divide the total amount of your municipal taxes by 12 and transfer that amount every month to a savings account; your funds will be ready when your bill arrives.
  31. Master the Art of Mindful Spending, by fully being in the present moment when you are spending. Try to uncover the real motives behind your spending. Is it boredom, envy, a feeling of entitlement or simply an unobserved habit?
  32. A budget is not once-in-a-lifetime exercise. It has to be reviewed once or twice a year and re-evaluated depending on your spending patterns and changes to your life situation.
  33. Budgeting can feel less tedious if you look at it as being a simple “allocation” exercise: You are allocating every dollar you are making to a certain category (fixed or variable expense, debt repayment and savings). In other terms, you are deciding what the job of each dollar you are making is. That’s it!
  34. If you need to amortize your car payments over 7-8 years or your house over 30 years, it means you can’t afford it! These long amortizations are marketing gimmicks to sell more cars and more mortgages to those who can’t really afford them.
  35. Do not feel “cheap” if you can’t offer your family or friends gifts for every occasion. It’s your chance to be creative and offer something more personal that doesn’t put a dent in your finances (eg – your babysitting services, crafts made by you, a card with touching words,…). Your friends and family will still love you regardless.
  36. Not all debt is created equal. When your debt is associated with an appreciating asset, it is not the same as when your debt is associated with things you have consumed (such as vacations and consolidation of credit card bills,…).
  37. Just like there is no magic pill to melt weight gain, there is no magic pill to melt your debts. It is taking healthy actions, day in and day out. Discipline, Commitment and Patience are the magic tools that will get you there.
  38. Have the courage to negotiate with your financial institution. You lose nothing but you might gain from it! Call them up and ask them if they can lower your credit card/line of credit’s interest rate. Just ask “Is this the best you can do?”, “what else can you do for me?” or “How else could you help me?”
  39. Gratitude will do magic on your path to wealth. Gratitude has the power to change your financial life, by switching your focus from what you don’t have to all that you already have.
  40. Last but not least…. As Maya Angelou said: When you know better, you do better. Your financial past should serve as a lesson for you to start doing better, now that you know better.

What money lessons have you learned in your lifetime? Please share them below.