money-habits

Financial education is non-existent in American schools. I remember learning how to write a check and balance a checkbook in Home Ec, but there were no courses about mortgages, budgeting, taxes, or living within my means. Not at school, anyway.

My parents taught me about being frugal. There weren’t any overt lessons, just leading by example in their daily lives. They didn’t do anything extravagant—no big vacations, no fancy clothes, no new cars. In fact, my dad drove the same car throughout my entire childhood. He bought it brand new two years before I was born. I learned to drive on this vehicle, and it had something like 200,000 miles on it when it finally died.

With so little financial education readily available, it’s no surprise that few people know how to manage their finances. So how do some people kill it, while others struggle?

Here are 7 habits of financially successful people.

The 7 Simple Habits of Financially Successful People

1. They check their statements every month.

Unless you’re completely off the grid, you get statements from your various accounts every month. Whether available online or actual paper statements, you have access to a monthly accounting of what’s going on in your finances. How often do you check them?

My husband starts each day with a quick peek at the statements. Bank, credit cards, stock investments, etc. He tracks everything going into and out of each account, every single day. While this may seem excessive, he feels uncomfortable when he doesn’t do it.

He discovered our credit card number was stolen a few years ago when a weird charge showed up. We were able to shut down that card quickly, before it turned into a big problem.

Keeping tabs on your accounts doesn’t have to be a daily thing. Weekly or even monthly is fine—but many people just don’t even bother to ever check it.

When was the last time you checked your monthly statements?

2. They plan their estate.

Nobody likes to think about dying. Planning your estate can be a depressing task, which makes it extremely easy to put off. Repeatedly. Like, forever.

But without a will, you have no control over what happens to your things. Your house, your car, even custody of your children all becomes subject to the intestacy laws of your state, which may not bear any resemblance to your wishes.

Don’t let this happen to you. Make a will so that your assets go where you want them to go. Even a handwritten holographic will will preserve your intentions.

Include custody directions if you have children or animals. The best course of action is to have a conversation with the person you are giving custody to — you don’t want it to come as a surprise to them.

Be as specific as you want in your will. You earned this wealth. You helped it grow. Direct your heirs on how to handle your possessions, so your legacy can continue.

3. They create (and stick to) a budget.

Financially savvy people have a plan for their money. Dave Ramsey calls it “giving every dollar a name.” You make a plan for how you are going to spend your money each month, rather than just hoping you’ll have enough to pay all the bills.

But say the word “budget,” and people freak out — it sounds like a restriction. Look at your budget as a tool. You don’t have to give up everything simply because you make one. Instead, you are creating a blueprint for how you want…