An individual with strong financial literacy skills can set themselves up for short– and long-term financial success.
Creating a budget, building an emergency fund, contributing to savings, and investing intelligently are all skills relatively easy to come by.
And yet, the mindsets necessary to actually employ these skills are often elusive.
Lucky for us, we can learn to develop these mindsets by paying attention to the behavior of our furry, canine friends.
If anything, dogs are consistent — they love routine. I’m reminded of this daily. At 4:30 sharp both of my dogs go stand by their food bowls and stare at me expectantly.
Need more evidence? Try not walking my dogs after giving them food. See what happens.
Routines and consistency are extraordinarily important when it comes to managing your money. Unless you plan on winning the lottery, achieving financial goals overnight is simply not feasible. (Also, just a note: you should never plan on winning the lottery.)
Let’s assume you’d like to save for retirement (or to buy a home or a car). You’ll need to make consistent, manageable contributions to the relevant accounts over the course of months (if not years).
Best practice is to set up an automatic, recurring contribution to a retirement or savings account. This way, you hold yourself accountable for saving money, regardless of what for.
Dogs’ habit of burying bones for later consumption is well-documented and adorable. (And, depending on where they’re doing it, extremely annoying.)
Despite this, you never see a dog not enjoying a bone (or a stick, or your shoe) in the moment.
In this way, dogs are excellent examples of the balance between maintaining present-day enjoyment and preparing for future needs. From this behavior, we learn an important lesson. It is not impossible to eat avocado toast for brunch and also save up to buy a home.
Doing so, however, requires some discipline.
Allow yourself certain luxuries in moderation. This will help alleviate some of the pain that 100% austerity can inflict. Ultimately, achieving this balance will make you more successful in the long run.
Dogs are also quite famous for being able to enjoy themselves with basically anything. I’ve lost count of the number of times my dogs have ignored expensive toys in favor of sticks or slippers.
Being able to amuse yourself on a budget is actually an extremely helpful trait.
The goal is to avoid spending money on expensive activities. If you can, you’ll have a lot more in your bank account to invest or save.
Am I suggesting you play with a stick instead of buying the newest Zelda video game? Absolutely not. (That game is well worth it.) However, finding areas where you can reduce your leisure spending is not difficult.
Here are just a few suggestions:
Buy domestic beer at the bar instead of craft-brewed.
It costs a bar half as much to buy Miller High Life than most craft brews. That discount is reflected in the prices you pay. (The same logic applies to cocktails. Once you put liquor in cola, the quality doesn’t mean all that much.)
Eat vegetarian when you go out for dinner.
Look, I’ll be the first one to say tofu is never going to taste as good as pork belly. (Well, second after your dog, perhaps.) However, every meal you eat doesn’t need to blow your socks off.
Vegetarian dishes are often (not always) much cheaper than the ones with meat. Plus, if the restaurant knows what they’re doing, they’ll still taste great.
Go to a drive-in theater instead of a traditional one.
A car full of people can see two movies at a drive-in theater for under $20. If your car has four people in it, that means each person is paying a measly $2.50 per film. Given that a ticket at an AMC is likely to exceed $10 per person per film, this is a huge saving.
Being able to learn money management tips from dogs’ behavior is wonderful. Unfortunately, as cute as dogs are, they can’t give you financial advice.
When it comes to raising your credit score, paying off credit card debt, or responding to one of the many wrenches life is bound to throw your way, the best a dog can do is put their head in your lap.
However, their affinity for companionship is a lesson in and of itself. A dog is your emotional and recreational companion; a financial advisor is just as valuable as a financial companion.
Financial advisors will help you plan to meet long term financial goals. They’re also invaluable when you need to respond to life events that will inevitably get in your way.
If you aren’t sure where to start with financial planning, Planswell can help. We’ll help you discover when you can retire. Plus help connect you with a certified expert financial advisor in your area.
The best part? It’s all totally free.
Dogs are some of the most adaptable creatures on this planet. Thousands of years ago we had wolves. Now, chihuahuas.
What’s more, their heightened sense of smell and hearing make them able to recognize immediate threats and react appropriately.
This is an excellent trait to emulate as you work towards meeting financial goals.
Making a plan is all well and good, but that’s not the end of the road. Plans must be malleable. Paying attention to what’s going on in the financial sphere and reacting to secure your investments is essential.
Of course, if you’re working with a financial advisor, they’ll do all that for you. For all you lone wolves out there, you might just want to take a leaf out of dogs’ books and join a pack.