personal finance is like a prostate exam most people don’t think about it until their 40s you probably shouldn’t talk about it with your mom and it’s a literal pain in your ass but it’s also something that has the power to completely change your life so long before i started my youtube channel i was an aspiring filmmaker and broke college grad struggling to get out of a really bad financial spot and i discovered that despite the profoundly unsexy nature of the topic there was no shortage of finance advice out there and most of it was terrible like the bloggers convincing you to live off of credit card points and the well-meaning uncle that tells you to just declare bankruptcy i declare bankruptcy among the minefield of questionable finance advice i did find some strategies that actually worked and so in this video i want to share the 10 biggest personal finance lessons that changed my life taking me from broke college student to financially free 34 year old with a healthy prostate i hope my mom’s not watching income isn’t everything up until a certain point it doesn’t matter how much money you make now obviously you need to have your basic needs met and you need enough cash left over to build up some savings but if you don’t get serious about cutting back both on your expenses and your overall spending you’ll likely never get on top of your finances and that’s because of a little thing called lifestyle creep no i don’t mean the friend from high school who is clearly trapped in a pyramid scheme and keeps offering you the freedom lifestyle otherwise known as lifestyle inflation lifestyle creep is when discretionary spending increases as your income does you get a 5k pay raise and instead of using that money to pay off your debt you think about all the things that you can buy with it a new flat screen tv maybe you finally update that bathroom how about that vacation that you’ve been dreaming of i mean you deserve it right you worked really hard for that pay raise i personally know a lot of people who make well over six figures and they’re living paycheck to paycheck and have barely made a dent on their student loans and it’s because they haven’t put together a plan for how much to save it all comes down to setting a percentage of your income to the side 20 is a good number to start with and then continue to dedicate that amount even as you make more money better yet pretend like you never got the raise to begin with and throw all your extra money at your debt or savings diversify your income if there was ever a time to start a freelance business or side hustle it’s right now when i started as a freelance filmmaker 10 years ago i had no idea where i’d end up but within a few years i went from earning 10 000 a year to over six figures when it comes to expenses there’s only so much that you can cut back on but freelancing and consulting are some of the best ways to increase your income over a short period of time because there’s no ceiling to how much you can earn chances are if you can find a dozen examples of people making a full-time living in a particular field as a freelancer then you can make it happen as well almost everyone has a marketable skill whether it’s writing or music tutoring or teaching people how to organize their closets and if you don’t think you have a skill that you can make money off of that brings me to my next point invest in your personal and professional development now it might sound counterproductive but as the saying goes you’ve got to spend money to make money unless it’s your facebook friend trying to sell you essential oils in that case run away with an almost unlimited amount of books courses and online tools at our fingertips you can upskill in pretty much any area that you can imagine whether it’s becoming a video editor or an accountant there’s endless ways to increase your value to both employers and clients so one of the first things that i ever invested in was a pair of headphones i had just made my first 100 as a filmmaker and i knew that i wanted to invest back into the quality of my videos it wasn’t really about getting a return on my investment i was just obsessed with trying to make the best videos i could but it turns out that’s exactly what you need to do to get a return on your investment to begin with when you put your money into the right education tools and resources it can pay back in dividends and no i’m not going to use this as an opportunity to pitch my course master youtube because that’s just too on the nose say yes to everything so as you advance in your career or business you’ll naturally become more selective about the work that you take on but if you’re just getting started out now is not the time to get picky you’re never too good for any work if someone wants to film a promo video of their foot massage parlor dive in feet first then take that extra cash you made and throw it at your debt or savings you probably won’t have to film videos of people getting their feet massaged forever unless of course you’re into that sort of thing move in with your parents seriously even if you’re over 30 move in with your parents or at the very least find some roommates to help lower your biggest monthly expense your rent this is one of the best financial decisions that i made early on when i started to tackle my debt since the 1960s the amount of adults living at home has been steadily increasing and it hit a high for the century at 52 just last year and that’s no coincidence property prices are soaring and student loans are higher than ever i’m not saying that it’s fair but these are the cards that were being dealt and we’ve got to take ownership over our lives to try to improve our circumstances if you’re lucky enough to still have your parents around this is going to rapidly increase how much you can pay off when it comes to your debt or to save up in general stop buying crap you don’t need i’ve probably talked about this one enough before but a friendly reminder never hurt anybody stop buying crap that you don’t need and start putting that money into your savings pay attention to how you feel just a few months after a big purchase did it solve all the problems that you thought it was going to are you any closer to happiness or contentment how much closer would you actually be to happiness if you were to instead chip away at some of your debt that’s been weighing you down showing a little bit of patience and determination towards your personal finance goals can go a really long way track the important stuff you don’t need to track every last cent but if you want to make headway towards your personal finance goals you’re going to have to start tracking your progress along the way one of the first things that i did when paying off my debt was to pull together the total amounts monthly payments and interest rates for each of my loans into a spreadsheet for the four years that i paid off my debt i checked that spreadsheet more than instagram even when i had nothing to add and even when it felt like things were barely moving i would literally just open up that spreadsheet log in and delete my loans one by one to see what it would feel like when i would actually pay them off and that was a really powerful visualization exercise that kept me motivated towards the finish line if you can’t stomach the idea of a spreadsheet there are a lot of other great apps that you can use to automatically track your finances like mint or good budget the important thing is that you get a bird’s-eye view of your finances so you can finally start to get a grip on where this ship is headed read one personal finance book a year this isn’t just about taking in new information it’s really about getting a reminder to keep going if everyone in your life is renting bmws while living paycheck to paycheck it’s not exactly going to motivate you to be responsible immersing yourself in the stories of people who have already forged the path before you will help to keep your eye on the prize i’ve linked to some of my favorite personal finance books down in the description below this video the return on investment of a good personal finance book is immeasurable call your feed here’s the thing sometimes we forget that there’s that little unfollow button on instagram and while we all have our guilty pleasures like trash reality television shows our culture already has a powerful influence over the decisions that we make by unfollowing the bad influences on our lives we can start to cultivate a feed that’s supportive and encouraging instead of people reminding us all the time of the things that we absolutely need to have and hey while you’re at it you can go follow me i promise there are barely any videos of me doing trendy dances and it’s mostly just personal development advice finally celebrate your progress becoming financially free doesn’t mean that you have to eat nothing but ramen and move into a cave far away from civilization although the way that things are going that doesn’t sound that bad it’s important to make room to celebrate and enjoy life along the way make sure to set milestones and rewards as you progress from debt-filled to debt free whether it’s a nice bottle of wine a new pair of headphones or finally replacing your busted laptop by celebrating those wins no matter how small you give yourself the motivation to keep going the truth is that for the most part becoming financially free is a very slow and uncomfortable crawl with plenty of twists and turns along the way but the payoff is worth the effort imagine a life free from stress about money imagine being able to quit your unfulfilling job imagine reading the left side of the menu first there are a lot of people out there giving personal finance advice that’s just plain crap and when it comes to advice well just leave that for your next prostate exam :