If the very mention of the word math makes painful memories of the school years rush to your mind then this article is for you.
Given your deep dislike for anything to do with numbers, you might have accepted long ago that managing your personal finances is not something that you will be able to handle well.
That is because everyone around you has drilled this message into your mind from a very young age – If you are not good at math, you won’t be good with money.
So how is that I am making this crazy sounding statement – You can hate math but still be great at managing your money and personal finances.
Math is Not a Problem for Personal Money Management
The first thing you need to do to get better at handling money is to bust a common myth:
Taking control of your financial situation has nothing to do with math.
So if you have been telling yourself that you are bad at money matters due to your dislike for math, then here is some good news:
Procrastination (not math) is the big obstacle for anyone trying to get their money life in shape.
Since that is an uncomfortable truth to face, we normally find a convenient excuse – I am not good at money matters because I am not good with numbers.
What you need to move forward is a willingness to bust this myth about math. Else you will continue blaming math for something that has very little to do with it.
There are millions of people just like you that don’t like dealing with numbers. Yet, they are able to do a commendable job when it comes to managing their financial wellness.
So go ahead and start believing it – You can get better at money matters irrespective of your feelings for math and numbers!
Taking Charge of Your Money
So now that you have decided to change and take charge of your money, what comes next?
You are in need of a clear road map that you can put to use immediately.
The road map for your financial journey ahead involves three main stages:
Stage 1 – Construct Your Financial Plan
Stage 2 – Identify Your Math Partner
Stage 3 – Realize What Really Matters
(As you might have noticed I have named each stage with words that are very “corporate sounding” – just like the things you see every day at your workplace.
There is a reason for it – The less you feel there is something unusual about the world of personal finance, the less odd it will feel.
It is no different from the various projects that you so easily tackle at work on a routine basis.)
STAGE 1 – Construct Your Financial Plan
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there – Alice in Wonderland
The first step of the financial journey is about coming up with your simple step by step financial plan. For a corporate professional this plan prepares you for the 5 most important financial days of your career and life.
Something to Keep in Mind – Getting better with money management is a marathon and not a sprint.
Just think about it – You have waited all this while before deciding to take charge of your finances. So it is natural that it will take some time before the positive results of your efforts start to show.
It is just like signing up for a gym membership. Can you expect to see your body being toned up and in tip top shape by the following week?
(Even though we all wish that is how it worked!)
It is good to keep your expectations in check since miracles with your money won’t happen overnight.
STAGE 2 – Identify Your Math Partner
Although finance does involves math, it does not mean that you personally have to do the number crunching. You just need to find a way to outsource the mathematical work to someone else.
In other words, you need to find your math partner.
There two primary options when it comes to choosing your math partner.
The Online Solution – Get an App
Contrary to what you may think, recent developments in technology mean that knowledge of math has become less and less important for you to handle your finances.
The screen that is helping you read this article right now, can also be your best friend when it comes to handling money matters.
You are already familiar with excel, word or power point when doing your daily job. Using a PC or smartphone for managing your money matters has become just as easy.
So go ahead and google for a personal finance app that is serving the city that you live it. You are looking for something that allows you to track your spending as well as helps you invest your money.
Read the reviews of the existing app users. Also ask your friends or colleagues if there is any app that they use to manage their money.
The technology within these apps has made it super easy for anyone to use them without dealing in any number crunching. All the number crunching is done by apps themselves.
One word of caution though – DON’T go overboard with online research. The internet is full of information and too many options when it comes to managing personal finance.
Too much information and options can lead to a decision paralysis (which is the problem we are trying to get solve to begin with).
You just need a “good enough” solution to get you started. You can look for the perfect solution at a later stage. All apps or online personal finance websites these days allow you to come and leave as per your choice.
It is not like buying a car or a house where you are stuck with it for many years once you make a choice.
The Offline Solution – A Human Financial Adviser
If you are not keen to go for an online solution, then you can choose a financial adviser who can come and meet you at your office or home. A good financial adviser can serve as a reliable resource to guide you on your financial journey.
It does not matter if you go for an online or an offline solution. You just need to pick the one that you are comfortable with and helps you get started.
STAGE 3 – Realize What Really Matters
You have now figured out a good math partner to work with and started on your personal money management journey.
The final step is a realization that will be the outcome of the previous two steps.
A realization that you actually don’t need a whole lot of math for managing your financial life. Whenever people think of math in a negative manner they probably have memories of middle to high school math.
Things like Trigonometry, Differential Equations and other scary stuff.
Here is the good news though – For most corporate professionals all you need is just a basic level understanding of addition, subtraction and a bit of compound interest.
Seriously, that is all you need to get a fix on your financial life. It does not need to be any more complicated than this.
In fact, a simple 3 point math formula is all you need to get even richer than your boss. So if a fear of high level math has been holding you back, then fear no more.
A lot of corporate professionals don’t get started on their financial journey to achieve their goals for fear of math. This is due to the false belief that personal money management is only possible with very strong math skills.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Unless you are in a professional role that needs high level math skills, you can do just fine with minimal understanding of math.
Yes – You can hate math and still be good with money.
All you need to do is to come up with your simple financial plan, find a math partner and then set yourself on the journey to reach your financial goals.
It really is as simple as that.
Dushyant Choudhary is the founder of dushyantnomics, an early retirement blog for professionals. Dushyant retired early from his 9-5 corporate life after a successful international career. He brings his knowledge and experience to his current role where he’s dedicated to helping professionals achieve a fulfilling retirement.