“How do you want to pay for it?”
I had recently returned from Iraq and my wife and I were hunting for a couch for our new home.
We found one that was on sale we both thought it was perfect.
Okay, it was a red couch and she thought it was perfect. I, personally, didn't understand why anyone would buy a red couch but apparently I didn't understand home decor. Nonetheless, the wife's vote trumped mine.
When the sales clerk asked how we wanted to pay suggesting we take advantage of their great in-store financing, an exciting thought ran through me – “we can pay cash”.
A year prior, that wouldn't have been an option. Not even close!
But now we found ourselves in a very exciting position; we were financially stable.
I can't say that I 100% believed we were financially stable at that point in our lives, but it definitely was a turning point for us. Not only could we pay cash, but we also had money left over.
People often spend most of their lives chasing financial stability. But is it possible that you may already be financially stable?
Here are 27 signs that you’re financially stable – already! And if you’re not, you can start working to make a lot of these a reality in your life.
1. You Never Overdraw Your Checking Account
Even if you have overdraft protection with your checking account, you still prefer to keep a cushion in your account, rather than relying on the protection. And you absolutely, positively, never bounce a check!
Part of it has to do with your aversion to paying overdraft fees. But mostly, it’s because you have a sufficient amount of money that you can keep more in your checking account then you need in a typical month.
2. You Don’t Lose Sleep Over Finances
When you go to sleep at night, you tend to sleep deeply and peacefully. And if anything does keep you awake, it’s usually not related to financial matters.
This is a non-financial benefit that people who are financially stable have as a result of their strong financial position. This isn’t to say that you don’t have any money worries at all, but rather that they are not significant, and never without some sort of reasonable solution.
3. You Use Credit Cards for Convenience and Rewards – But Never Out of Necessity
I currently have 4 credit cards in my wallet and use them almost every day. <gasp!>
How could you, Jeff? You're a Certified Financial Planner!
Yes, I am, but here's the catch: I pay them off every month. As a bonus, we have carefully selected credit cards that collect reward points which we use for airlines miles. Boo-yah!
Many people who are not financially stable have a bad habit of using credit cards as a way to extend their paychecks – to buy the things that they really can’t afford.
That’s not an issue in your life!
If you do use a credit card, it will strictly be for convenience, such as being able to make a fast payment online. Or you will do it because your credit card company provides you with rewards for making purchases.
4. You Don’t Worry About Losing Your Job
This is one of the very best indicators that you are financially stable. It’s a sad state of affairs that the vast majority of people in the US live from paycheck to paycheck. The thought of losing their job, even for a month or two, would be a financial disaster.
Since your finances are in balance, losing your job isn’t something that you worry about, at least not the potential for ruining your finances.
5. You’re Never Late With Payments
This is partially because you always have plenty of money to pay your bills, but also because of your preference for being ahead of your finances, rather than behind. This is also a big reason why you don’t lose sleep over your finances. When you go to bed at night, you know that your bills are paid, and all is right for world.
6. You Pay Your Bills Ahead of Time
Part of the reason why you're never late with payments is because you pay your bills ahead of time. In fact, you probably pay them as soon as they come in. You do this because you don’t like bills to linger – and simply don’t like owing anybody anything.
7. People Ask Your Opinion About Financial Matters
One of the biggest outward signs that you are financially stable is when people ask your opinion about financial matters. They’ll do this because they see you as being someone who has “figured it out”, at least when it comes to money.
When this happens, take it as a supreme compliment. It means that your financial stability is so obvious that others can see it, and will ask your opinion as to how to achieve it.
8. You’re Generally Happy With Your Financial Situation
This doesn’t mean that your financial situation is completely perfect, but rather that your finances are in balance, and you are satisfied with the direction that things are heading. Even if you have financial challenges over the horizon, you have some sort of plan set up to deal with it before it comes. That’s all anyone can do – and you’ve already got it covered.
9. You Have No Ugly Credit Card Balances
It’s not at all unusual for people who have high incomes and a large amount of financial assets to also carry great big, ugly credit card balances. That’s not a game that you play. You absolutely refuse to carry credit card balances that can’t be paid off relatively quickly. And that keeps you from paying high interest rates, and from losing sleep at night.
10. You Finance Your Cars Over Five Years or Less – If You Take Loans at All
Even though there are car loans available as far out as seven years, you keep your car loans to five years or less. Or you pay cash for your cars, or you pay them off ahead of schedule.
That means that you won’t live your life carrying a perpetual car loan payment. That also means that when you buy a new car, it’s very likely that you’ll be making a larger than average down payment on it – which is why you take shorter loans in the first place.
11. You Contribute a Double-Digit Percentage of Your Pay To Retirement
Many, many people contribute nothing more than the minimum percentage that they need in order to get the maximum employer match on their retirement contributions.
But that’s not a game that you play.
You recognize the importance of aggressive retirement investing as a critical part of becoming financially stable. You either make the maximum retirement contribution that you’re allowed, or your contribution is well into double digits percentages.
And because you do, early retirement is actually a legitimate consideration in your life.
More from GFC, Below
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12. You Don’t Feel Guilty When You’re Out For Special Occasions
Everybody has episodes were they spend a little bit too much money. This can happen on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, vacations, and other celebrations. But for you, these events are not budget busters. You have enough flexibility built into your budget that you can accommodate the occasional spending spree without having too much month at the end of your paycheck.
13. You Can Afford to Buy the Things You Really Want
If you really want something, you go out and buy it. Your finances are strong enough to enable you to get those things that you really want.
This isn’t at all about impulse spending on an ongoing basis, but rather about having enough room in your budget to get the things that you really want. In that way, money doesn't rule you.
14. Recreational Spending Doesn’t Appeal to You
There are all kinds of coping devices in life, bad habits like hard drinking, drug use, and overeating. For some people, the vice is recreational shopping. Spending money enables them to lose themselves – and their troubles – at least for a time. And often, recreational spending is a way of rebelling against their impaired financial situation.
That’s not something that you engage in, nor do you ever feel the need to do so. You’re happy with your finances in general, and you don’t need to spend money to feel good about yourself.
15. You’re a Natural Saver
This is one of the key habits in becoming financially stable – and it’s one that you mastered a long time ago. You’ve been doing it so long and so well, that you are virtually a natural saver. You can do it with a sense of purpose, and without ever feeling any pangs of self-denial.
16. You’re Generous With Money When it Comes to Charities or Helping Others
You have certain charities that you support on a regular basis, and you're generous with the people around you who are in need. You’re able to do this because you never sense that giving money to others in need will in any way negatively impact your financial position. You give with ease, and you feel good about it.
17. You’re Confident About Your Future
This is one of the best indications that you are financially stable. Your finances are sufficiently under control, that you feel confident about your future. This is because you're easily able to live on what you earn, you have substantial financial assets that you're adding to on a regular basis, and you carry little, if any, non-housing debt.
The future tends to be kind to people in that situation – and that’s where your confidence comes from.
18. Your Net Worth Grows Significantly From Year to Year
Your net worth tends to grow each year, and to do so by fairly large amounts. This isn’t about doubling your money each year, but rather about achieving fairly consistent increases in your net worth. Those increases come from a combination of adding to your investments through regular contributions, and through solid investment returns.
19. You Have Substantial Equity in Your Home
Another of the major markers of being financially stable is that you have a large amount of equity in your home. This is either because you made a large down payment on the home when you bought it, or because you’re paying extra principal on your monthly payment as a way to accelerate the payoff of the mortgage. It may even be a combination of both.
That large equity means that you don’t worry about falling property values, at least not the way people in low- or no-equity situations do.
20. You Consistently Live Beneath Your Means
You consistently live beneath your means because you are well aware of the fact that all the things that make someone financially stable start with having extra room in your budget for savings, investments, or paying off debt.
This isn’t a struggle for you either, but something that makes sense and comes easily to you.
21. A Large Pay Cut Wouldn’t Destroy Your Life
Yet another of the benefits of being able to live beneath your means is that the prospect of taking a large pay cut wouldn’t destroy your life. Because you are already living on less than you earn, taking a pay cut at work, or transferring to a lower paying position, won’t represent a mortal blow to your existence. You’ll find a way to live beneath your means, whatever those means are.
22. The Cost of Sending Your Kids to College Doesn’t Scare You
You’re looking forward to your kids going to college. You’re well aware that the cost is outrageous, but you’re making plans so that you’ll be prepared when the time comes. This can be a combination of specifically saving money for each child through a college savings plan, streamlining your own finances so that you’ll be able to pay a large chunk out of your income, or working to help your children get scholarships that will contribute toward the cost.
23. You’re Totally Unconcerned With Keeping Up With the Joneses
In your world, being financially stable is its own reward. You have no need to acquire the trappings of the good life that others around you are working so hard to attain. That keeps you from spending money that you don’t have, and going into debt. And that leaves you more money for savings and investments, which increase your financial stability even more. No toys and trophies are needed!
24. You Give 100% on the Job – Financial Concerns Don’t Distract You
Just as you sleep like a baby because you are unconcerned with financial troubles, you’re able to give 100% on your job. You aren't weighed down by the emotional troubles of having unpaid bills or out-sized debts to pay. And because you can live on less than you make, you don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself because you’re not making enough money to pay you bills.
That frees you up to do the job that needs to be done, makes it more likely that you will get the bigger raises, and the promotions when they come around.
25. You Pay Your Credit Cards in Full Each Month
Since you don’t use credit cards as an extension of your paycheck, you simply pay the balance in full each month as the bill comes in. There are no lingering debts in your life, and none of the worries that are attached to them. Every month, you have a clean slate going into the next month. See #3 again. 🙂
26. You Could Survive For Months Without a Paycheck
You have sufficient liquid savings that you can live for months without a paycheck if you have to. You won’t need to tap long-term savings, like retirement plans either. And bankruptcy won't be even a remote consideration, since you have very little debt.
The fact that you can live without a paycheck for an extended period of time even makes it easier to do your job. You can work without concerning yourself with the threat of layoff, or being fired. And you never feel trapped by your job.
This is one of those circumstances were being financially stable feels so good!
27. You Feel In Control of Your Finances – Never Dominated by Them
Overall, you have a strong sense that you are in control your finances. This means that when it comes to money, you have choices. And since money creates options in life, you have more than the average person.
This is what being financially stable is all about, and what the ultimate goal of it should be. Being able to do what you want, when you want, and on your own terms.
This is a long list, and if you're not feeling some of these right now, you can work to get yourself into a position where you will. It’ll take a bit of effort, but that effort will be sooo worth it!