Thursday, July 17, 2008

Michelle Singletary Says...

I started this post last weekend, and am just getting around to finishing it, but better late than never. I don't know if I ever mentioned how much I love Michelle Singletary, so I'll say it: I love Michelle Singletary. Or at least I love her personal finance advice. Michelle Singletary has a bi-weekly personal finance column in the Washington Post that I have been reading for the last few years. She also has a show (which is currently on hiatus) on the TV One cable television channel. She gives excellent, no-nonsense advice and encourages people to get the monkey's off their backs and live debt free.

Last Saturday, I attended an event on homeownership at my alma mater here in DC where Singletary was the keynote speaker. Just as she does in her column and books (she has published a few), she told attendees to get back to the basics and to stop their high consuming habits. The event overall was great, but I liked Singletary's keynote the best. The event had different workshops focused on issues such as the merits of home ownership vs. renting, information about loan options, specific information about DC area properties, opportunities to talk with agents, etc. Here are a few pf gems she discussed in her presentation that may not be new to most people, but hey most people (myself included) aren't completely debt free so there is nothing wrong with reinforcement.

Michelle's Advice on how to feel better about your personal finances:

Order your steps to wealth

  1. Have an emergency fund. Life is filled with large and small emergencies, so its best to be prepared.

  2. Have a life happens fund. There are times in life that don't qualify as an emergency, but were not alloted for in your budget.

  3. Pay off debt. I believe Michelle regularly uses the phrase: debt is slavery and I am begining to agree with her.

  4. Invest in a retirement fund. Even those people blessed with children shouldn't depend on them to take care of them in retirement. I'm sure most people would like to live as well, if not better than they currently do when they retire.

  5. Invest in your children's college education (if you have them). Knowledge is power, and one of the greatest things you can do for your child is invest in their education. But not at the expense of your own retirement! If you don't have children, you can invest in furthering your own education, or that of a relative (niece, nephew, cousin, godchild).

The benefits of budgeting
  1. It helps you to use your money on the things that really matter to you. When you are not worrying about bills and debt, you can free up your time to pursue your own dreams or even just figure out what those dreams are.

  2. It let's you to control your money instead of your money controlling you. Enough said!

  3. It will tell you if you are living beyond your means. What is really the point of "keeping up with the Jones'?"

  4. It helps you to meet your savings goals. Whether its for a rainy day, a vacation, or a home, savings is the cornerstone to building wealth.

  5. It helps you to leave a legacy. Don't we all want to leave a legacy to our loved-ones besides debt? I know I do.
Path to prosperity

  1. Decrease your debt. I don't want to bein debt forever, do you?

  2. Budgeting better. This can keep you from wasting money you didn't know you were wasting in the first place!

  3. Owning a home. a major way most people build wealth.

  4. Investing. Your last name doesn't have to be Buffett to invest, we all can.

Reinforcement is important, and I enjoyed hearing Michelle's get "back to basics" message, though it wasn't necessarily new information to me. Home ownership is a goal that is at least two years away, but it's never too early to gather information for when I am ready to take the step. In the mean time, I will be infused with inspiration and resolve to be debt free by reading my favorite pf blogs and Michelle's column.



The Legal Optimist said...

Your blog is so interesting! I really like it ^___^ Thanks for commenting on mine too.

If I were you, I'd end up spending all my money at Pentagon City or eating out all the time...I miss Cosi sandwiches!

Michelle said...

Hey I love your blog and I will be back! lord knows I need all the financial advice and tips I can get!!