By Brandon Johnson | Contributing Writer

It’s amazing the peace that comes with mastery of your own finances and even more so how that peace ripples into other areas of your life.

The problem is, while we’ve been taught all our lives to get a good job and make a lot of money, many of us were never taught how to properly manage it once we have it.

You don’t need to PhD in finance and economics to conquer your financial life. But you do need to become financially literate, and it’s never too late.

For majority of us and anyone we will meet, it is virtually impossible to work enough hours in our lifetime to save a million dollars with all of life’s expenses factored in. So how then in the Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan sponsored study of 10,000 millionaires, does “Teacher” rank as one of the top 5 occupations of “Everyday Millionaires.”

The answer is simple on the surface but the execution of it often requires the reworking of a lifetime of bad habits and rebelling against a system that constantly uses our favorite celebrities to push credit cards, overpriced insurance, and terrible car leases in our faces and fills our mailboxes with quick fixes from payday loan companies to personal loan offers. All products that are nothing more than band-aids designed to benefit big banks and ultimately sink us further into debt.

The good news is that if you can master the fundamentals of personal finance, the effects will not only change your financial life but can ultimately change the direction of your family tree. The process will enhance other areas of your personal life as well.

Control of your money often comes with new revelations in your relationship because in doing a household budget-which is the most necessary ingredient to win in finances- it is necessary to sit down as a family together, communicate and come to an agreement on your spending, and for many this will be a first.

You will inherently gain a new discipline, as the high you get from spending will be replaced with the high of watching your net worth grow and your life options increase.

You will remove one of the biggest stressors in your life and eventually be able to not only dream big but create a blueprint to achieve that dream.

You will stop daydreaming longingly about beautiful vacations that seem too lofty to entertain, but instead will have the tools, resources and knowledge to save up and go anywhere in the world you want.

This isn’t get rich quick talk. It requires a complete change in mindset and lifestyle. With a new perspective, and an injection of hope, you will finally start seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s when life gets fun.

Oh and the Answer to the above question as to why so many teachers become millionaires is this: They lived on less than they made, stayed debt free and invested steadily into a retirement account over many decades without out ever touching it. That’s it. Seems simple enough, but that is the magic of debt freedom and of investing.

But we’ll get to investing and debt talk later, because in the case of most Americans, that not the first step they should or can even afford to take. Why? Because according to a recent bankrate.com survey, 63% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $500-$1000 emergency without resorting to credit.

The reality is this, for many middle-class Americans and those close to or under the poverty line, they live in perpetual state of tunnel vision, making financial literacy the last thing on their minds. They just want to get past running out of money before their next check comes. They have no room in their budget to squeeze out another free dollar let alone to put it into an account they can’t access for a decade or more.

And when people have lived in those states of survival or panic for years or decades it is difficult to shift perspectives and see proper and long-term solutions, they just want to get above water.

Maybe you work a job that doesn’t give you access to a 401k and aren’t exactly sure what moves you should make to plan for your future.

Maybe you’re at a place where you’ve had enough of not prospering the way you know you should, or maybe you just want to get control of your money but are overwhelmed with the amount of financial information out there and don’t know where to start.

Rest assured, wanting to change is the first step and taking control of your financial life does not have to be hard. My deepest desire is to demystify the world of personal finance and decode this world that for a lot of us wasn’t discussed at the dinner table growing up.

If you are underwater or living paycheck to paycheck but are ready to join the race to prosperity you need actionable goals and a solid starting line.

$1000 is universally considered a solid cushion against most minor emergencies. And if you know that you don’t have $1000 in cash saved up in a separate account that you DON’T TOUCH then you are walking too close to the edge. So that should be your Goal #1: SAVE $1000.

Now In order to save any amount of money you must have more coming in than going out, and there are only two things you can do to increase that gap.

Spend Less or Make More.

Any search online will tell you tons of ways to make a $1000 fast but my best advice, and what I did was. Budget, sell, cut, and hustle.

-Pay yourself first. Create a budget of your incoming and outgoing expenses and see how much you have left over. As soon as can, move that amount to a separate savings account.

-Look around your house, anything that you haven’t needed or used in 6 months and that has no value to you. Sell it.

-Any subscription you don’t use or that you’re holding onto for just that one show, cancel it.

Remember If you are broke, now is not the time to find excuses and rationalize every unnecessary purchase we all do it. Cut it out. Be intentional with every dollar you spend.

-How much will two extra weekends of overtime bring you a month?

-How much could you cut back on eating out?

-Could you deliver food a few hours a day?

-Be creative.

There are 24 hours in a day. 168 hours in a week. Most of us work 40 hours, sleep 35 and spend about 21 hours a week engaged in personal or family endeavors. That leaves us 72 hours a week unaccounted for. What could you do if you got laser-focused?

 I challenge you to get a piece of paper and write down ways you could pocket $1000 as fast as possible.

To live like no one else you must live like no one else and to win at personal finance you must be both intentional and intense. Ready Set…

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