Important money lessons that changed my life

Just like celebrities who have made and lost huge fortunes, I too have money lessons I learned the hard way. But unlike some celebrities, I made my way back home. And it's been the most constructive thing for me. 

When I started working, I had a difficult time adjusting to my newfound wealth. I felt like I was constantly juggling between the opposite ends of control: mindlessly over-spending or hoarding, and never feeling at ease about finances.

This tug of war was the reason why I was semi broke. Yeah sure, I had an investment in place and a retirement fund. But every single month I didn't have enough money to live on. Mind you. I didn't even have that many financial responsibilities. I just didn't manage my finances the way I needed to.

Ten years ago, I realised that game time was over, and I had control over my finances. I needed to break through my fears of managing money and investing it wisely.

So, with money, there are lessons that can be learned. I’ve spent time reflecting on what I’ve learned from the mistakes. Here are the important money lessons that changed my life.

Knowing what to do is not enough

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "knowing is not enough; we must apply." Let's me see a show of hands, how many of you know what you have to do to become financially stable? Chances are most of you know the basics of what needs to be done. And most of you are willing to do it, at least in theory. The question is how many of you are willing to apply that knowledge and do what it takes?
So many of us know what to do with our finances but we do not apply that knowledge. The truth is if you want to see results in your finances, you must apply what you've learned. Without action, without actually applying our knowledge and doing what must be done, we accomplish nothing .
For example, when I finally decided to buy my first home, I didn't have enough deposit for the house. I knew this was important and would help me in the long run. But I didn't save. Instead, I had to empty an investment I had to cover the costs. It was a foolish decision. You see, I knew what to do but when the time came, I didn't apply my knowledge. Instead I procrastinated.
Take a moment and think about some of the things you haven’t done financially, and consider why you stopped pursuing them. If you know what’s stopping you, and you apply that knowledge, all that is left to do is be willing to do what it takes to achieve them. 
READ ALSO: Confession: my personal money beliefs

Pay More than Your Minimum Payment

When I had credit card debtI only paid the minimum amount every month. I did this for two years before I realised the debt wasn't coming down at all. I was just paying that R150/month in interest. I then starting paying R500 and within three months there was a visible change. I literally paid off my debt two times over. Since that day I haven’t let three months pass without paying it off my debt. At first, it may seem hard or even impossible to pay more than your monthly minimum credit card payment because of other expenses you have. But take a closer look – you may be able to cut your spending in other places to help you pay off your credit card debt. If you haven’t tried to negotiate for lower interest rates with your credit card issuer, you might want to give it a try. The interest rate you are earning on your savings is probably much less that what you are being charged on your credibalance.  Consider using some of your savings to pay down the balance. 

It's Never Too Late to Improve Your Personal Finance 

When I first joined a financial media house at the age of 26, I thought I was actually doing pretty good with my money. I quickly learned that almost everyone I worked with is a money nerd, so I absorbed a lot just by being around the office. That’s how I found out that I was still pretty clueless when it came to finances. I didn't understand investing at all or how compound interest works. I had no clue.
After chatting with a colleague one day, I realised I probably should’ve started saving for my future when I got my first full-time job. That kinda freaked me out. I quickly opened up an investment account, had the money automated. The best thing I did for myself. And while I wish someone would’ve told me these things sooner, I'm glad I acted on it when I found out. Unfortunately, financial advice tends to beat the "save early" drum so much that it's easy to believe that there is such a thing as "too old to start fixing your finances". But as long as you are bringing in an income, you can save, you can invest and you can grow your money. Remember… It’s never too late to make positive and proactive changes in your finances.

What money lessons have you learned that changed your life?