basic money rules

By Sylvain Saurel

Money is something that a majority of people do not master. The more I talk about money with people, the more I realize that many have a total ignorance of the subject.

It’s not that surprising. The education system has never taught you what money is, and even worse, how to manage your money in order to make the right decisions for your future.
There is one basic rule that you should have in mind, and it applies to all areas, and therefore to money:

“In life, it’s your ignorance that costs you money.”

So the less you know about money, the more you risk losing a lot of it. Whether you are very rich or very poor, this rule applies equally.

I don’t know how many stories I’ve read of extremely rich people who have squandered all their hard-earned money in a few years. Yet these people had everything they needed to enjoy their wealth.

Well, when I say everything, I should say almost everything. These people did not know enough about money to manage it properly.

If you don’t know how to manage your money, you can still become rich, but you won’t stay rich. That’s for sure. Look at all the sports stars in the United States who make tens of millions of dollars throughout their careers. They then find themselves virtually out on the street at the end of their careers.

On the other hand, even if you are middle-class or poor, you have a real chance to improve your life enormously if you learn how to manage your money wisely.

I’m not going to lose you in what follows with a financial management course that you’ll probably never apply in your life. I’m simply going to give you 4 money rules that you must follow in order to be ahead of 99% of the people.

Pay yourself first

From a very young age, the education system has conditioned us to follow the same path. It starts with studies, then it goes on with a 9-to-5 job more or less well paid. Then you have to buy a house to take care of your family. And of course you have to buy a car for your family.

Ideally, you should make these purchases on credit. That way, you are stuck, and you will have to keep going to work day after day to earn this precious salary. The goal for your government is that you can pay your taxes so that the monetary and financial system can function properly.

You become conditioned like a robot to pay all your bills as soon as your paycheck comes in. Then, once all your bills and other credits are paid, you will fall into the trap of the consumer society that pushes you to spend your money on a whole bunch of things that you absolutely don’t need.

At the end of the month, you realize that you have nothing left to save.

Despite all the goodwill in the world, you can’t manage to save. I’ve been doing this for a long time. Then one day I realized I had to take the problem differently. A quote from entrepreneur John Rampton was a revelation to me:

“A cardinal rule in budgeting and saving is to pay yourself first. Once your paycheck hits your account, wisdom has it that you should move some amount to savings even before you pay the bills.”

Instead of being at the bottom of your list, you should be at the very top of your list when it comes to the payments to be made each month.

This means that as soon as your salary comes in, you should directly set aside the amount you have decided on beforehand. The best thing is to automate this so that you always pay yourself first.

You’ll forget about the amount you’ve saved, and you’ll have to make sure you live with the money left over to pay your bills, and enjoy your life.

Save for a rainy day

By paying yourself first, you’re going to save a lot of money without realizing it. Then it’s up to you to choose how best to invest these savings so that they grow, and don’t become devalued by inflation.

But that is another problem.

With real savings at your disposal, you will be ready to face difficult days. If you lose your job, you’ll be able to get through the bad times.

You’ll also find that this strategy will help you spend much less money.
Warren Buffett, who is one of the greatest investors of all time, has a perfect formula to illustrate this:

“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”

By paying yourself first, you are guaranteed to save money, and spend only the money left over.

The amazing thing is that it is extremely easy to automate this approach. The big question that comes to my mind is why so few people apply this to the letter.

Live below your means

As I have explained, the consumer society we live in is doing everything possible to ensure that we spend more and more money. Advertisers are being more inventive so that you always want to buy new things.

But if you take the time to think about it, you’ll realize that you don’t need to change your smartphone every year to get the latest iPhone for example.

You may not even need to have an iPhone at all. You can settle for a cheaper smartphone that will perform the same functions.

If you take a step back, you’ll realize that you’re buying a lot of things you don’t need. On this subject, I find the following Swedish proverb very relevant:

“He who buys what he does not need, steals from himself.”

Instead of continuing to steal from yourself, you need to start living below your means. This is a basic money rule. By applying it, you will boost your personal finances like never before.

Don’t get into debt

I’ve always been surprised to see so many people using and abusing credit. I even know people who have practically ended up ruined by accumulating all kinds of debt.

The worst thing is that the majority of these debts were contracted for useless things.

I’m going to talk about Apple again, but first you should know that I recognize the quality of Apple’s products.

Nevertheless, you will agree with me if I tell you that the products sold by Apple are far too expensive. It’s been a long time since Apple and many other phone manufacturers have lost the sense of reality when it comes to money.

In spite of this, many continue to buy Apple products even if it means going into debt. I’m talking about Apple here, but this is true in many other areas.

This type of consumption, which causes you to accumulate more and more debt, puts your money at risk.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor. The problem is the same here, since the more money you have, the more you will spend with this mentality.

You will always end up running out of money.

So you have to come to your senses. To help you do so, I encourage you to remember this quote from the third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson:

“Never spend your money before you have it.”

If you really want an iPhone, save money. Take the time to earn that money by working hard. You’ll find that once you have that money available, you’ll find it much harder to spend it on an iPhone.

Debt gives you that feeling that everything is free, and that’s a mistake.

By taking the time to save, you’ll give real value back to the things that consumer society constantly pushes you to buy. The result is guaranteed: you’ll spend much less.

Perhaps the only debt exception is the purchase of your permanent residence. But even so, many will tell you that it is ultimately more profitable to remain a tenant.

So flee debt like the plague.


People who do not master the basic money rules will end up in poverty for sure. This applies whether you are rich or poor, because in any case, not knowing how to manage your money will condemn you to spend it all.

The only difference is that rich people will waste more of it.

By always paying yourself first in order to save for a rainy day, and then avoiding buying unnecessary things, you will be able to put yourself in a good position to build a prosperous future.

The final point is of course to avoid debt as much as possible.

If you follow these rules, which are basically common sense, I can guarantee that your life will be changed forever.


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Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC (LRPC) is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based independent, objective Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) providing investment advisory, fiduciary compliance, employee education, provider management and plan design services to employer retirement plan sponsors. The firm specializes in sustainable investment strategies for retirement plans that incorporate Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) factors and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) elements. LRPC currently has contracts in place to provide consulting services on more than a half billion dollars in plan assets. For more information, please contact Robert C. Lawton at (414) 828-4015 or or visit the firm’s website at Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants, LLC is a Wisconsin Registered Investment Adviser.

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