Your Financial Goals:
Managing Money and Increasing Wealth
Practical Techniques for Students and Others
Here you learn easy-to-implement techniques to
achieve your financial goals and to move toward your full potential.
These suggestions often take the perspective of university students,
but also have much value to a general audience.
You learn how to increase your income and
how to manage and conserve the wealth you have for later use toward
specific goals, all while maintaining balance in life.
Tracking what you spend
First of all, you need to gain control of
your spending, in order to get maximum enjoyment and fulfilment
from resources you have.
You should implement keeping a record of
your spending, having a log of the purpose and amounts of each
expenditure. Your goal is not asceticism--most people have more
than enough of that--but you should know where your money is going.
This log you should carry with you, in order not to forget
items. Enter every expenditure, no matter how small.
The mere act of tracking helps you spend
more wisely, and you may be very surprised--very shocked--at how
much money you are wasting. Tracking helps you think about how
you should allocate your funds and even how to make your wealth
For example, university students may find
that they are spending an inordinate amount of money on food of
dubious nutritional value. All too often they may come home and
order pizza delivered, the cost of which really adds up over time,
instead of quickly preparing a more balanced but pleasing meal.
Below, self-proclaimed master chef and pseudo dietitian Dr. Voyageur
shows just how easy it is to prepare a savoury healthier alternative
meal at a fraction of the cost in very little time. No experience
You should look at all aspects of your spending
to determine if your money could be used in better ways. You need
to chart exactly where your money is currently going and think
seriously about alternative ways of spending and saving.
After a time, you will find that you do not need
to formally track any more. You do not want to make an obsession
of this over a long period. You will naturally begin to spend more
wisely from the experience of tracking.
Dr. Voyageur never ceases to be amazed by
people who complain about how much debt they have or how they
never have enough money to buy what they want, but never think
of easy to implement ways to earn more to get back on track. For
example, a shocking number of people in the U.S. declare bankruptcy
with relatively small amounts of debt, which could have been paid
off by merely working a few more hours each week.
Working part-time to supplement government
guaranteed educational loans in Canada and the U.S., most domestic
full-time students earn enough during the school year to meet
basic needs. Earning enough to take extensive trips, to make major
purchases, and to have money for emergencies, on the other hand, is another
matter, they believe. Saving for a future beyond university is
almost unthinkable for most students.
The solutions? Work longer. Work smarter.
Earn more during the time you work. These points are explained
Maintaining balance of life
While working on your financial goals, please keep in mind that
rest is the basis of activity. When we are well rested the day
goes better and over the long run we achieve more.
University students must pay particular
attention to this point because most are pinched for money. You
may need to work more, but you do not want to overdo it.
Some advocate regimes that bottom line result
in severe sleep deprivation. Working full-time while engaged in
a challenging academic programme may not only be unhealthy, it
also denies that there is more value to university life than class
Certainly, the friendships (and networks)
that you develop, the cultural, social, and charitable activities
in which you participate, the extensive physical activity for
which you now have time but may not later, and the chance to contemplate
realms beyond your immediate existence all have much value. Merely
looking at university as a vocational programme (even if your
class work is vocational in nature) is not only wrong, it is damaging
to your future happiness.
In setting financial goals and prioritizing
your time, try to achieve balance. Stop and smell the roses, as
the cliche goes.
Knowing how to earn more
If you read and implemented the time
management and goal setting section, you should now have ample time
to earn more, without sacrificing your academic or social life.
Besides paying off debts, you can increase
your income to be able to save for our major goals like starting
a business or going on an extensive honeymoon with no debt. This
can be accomplished in at least five ways, preferably by a combination
of at least two or three.
with more careful spending, as discussed above, you have more
funds available for items really important in your life. Thus,
you "earn" from your time spent tracking and budgeting.
You make sure that these "earnings" stay available for
specific goals and real emergencies by segregating them into savings
accounts (or into gold coins or whatever), not into your day-to-day chequing account.
Do not worry that you earn little interest
on these accounts. You want this money kept safe and ready, and
having a savings plan that you stick to cultures discipline needed
for success in other areas of life.
You can set up somewhat higher interest "certificates of
deposit", which have restrictions and penalties for early
withdrawal, and even arrange to have automatic deductions from
your paycheques into your savings. "Out of sight and not
of mind"— out of temptation's way--is Dr. Voyageur's
Before moving on to more lucrative but riskier
investments, you want to have a stable savings plan in place for
with your increased free time due to more efficient time management
described in the earlier lesson you can work extra hours without a pinch.
If necessary, you can have more than one part-time job, while
still having more time for social activities. Remember that you
are working more now to have a better life later. Surprisingly
few people think of working extra hours. We discuss this in greater
this is really important--you can seek a higher paying full or
part-time job or self employment situation. Preferably, this job
should add to your future resume. For example, an accounting student
will usually be better off doing simple bookkeeping for a small
merchant than frying hamburgers in a fast food restaurant, if
for no other reason than her employer can serve as a future
Working at a job related to your interests
in life usually results in more income either now or in the future.
As a student, wouldn't you rather be a teaching assistant helping
a favourite faculty member than serving food in your residence
hall? Working with a person such as your professor who may eventually
or even now introduce you to many opportunities in your field?
This could even result in an ideal summer internship for you, as well.
Too many students and others go with the
flow and stay with the first job offered. However, you want a
job that looks good in the future and has significant
potential for short-term wage increases, as the quality
of your work becomes proven. If you choose a job that complements
your academic endeavours and passions in life, the sophistication and earning potential of your part-time
job or jobs should quickly grow.
you can start your own part-time business while in school. If
you really want to get rich in Canada or the United States, starting
businesses and investing in newer businesses to share in the profits
are the routes to go. With rare exceptions, investing in the stocks
of more mature companies or mutual funds while working for someone
else will never make you truly rich, even if your salary is high.
For one thing, your tax situation as a wage earner is far inferior
to a business owner's.
As students, we can tutor our peers, teach
younger children, paint houses, tend gardens, repair cars or computers,
keep company books, sell fitness centre memberships for commissions, translate
documents, clean carpets, on and on, all under the umbrella of
our own business. And, even as students, we receive the tax advantages
of self employment. Our possible tax deductions multiply and thus
our income becomes sheltered from taxation in ways not available to
routine wage earners.
Note that none of the possible businesses
listed here requires significant investment to get started. If
you fail, you have risked your time, but not your bank account.
International students without resident
visas may find self-employment or other opportunities in Canada
and the U.S. Trading informal instruction in their mother tongue
for rent reductions and other informal arrangements may not run
afoul of immigration laws. Consult legal counsel with extensive
experience in immigration law to be sure, in order to avoid deportation. Once out, you may not be allowed back in for a long time, and since the
9/11 attacks you are of course being watched more closely.
In the U.S., for example, international
students may be able to set up web-based limited liability companies where
their income 1) is paid in the name of their company, and 2) goes
to their foreign address. This type of company may qualify for
a U.S. tax identification number. If considering this, it is absolutely
essential that you discuss the legality of this and the pros and
cons of this with competent legal counsel and the tax consequences
of this with a chartered accountant (CPA). Make sure that these
people know your status in Canada or the U.S.
Also, universities have ties to private
companies and governmental departments that give both international
and domestic students paid internship and other employment opportunities.
You have to ask and keep asking.
For all of us, self employment allows us
to control our lives in ways that working for others never do.
There is risk, of course, but that is part of the fun for the
entrepreneurial personality. There may be greater risk not taking
advantage of these opportunities.
we can invest wisely. This may never put us on a list of billionaires,
as it did Warren Buffet, but it sure can make us comfortable.
This is discussed elsewhere.
Building sound financial
Before we go on, let's go over basic financial
management. If you want to assure your financial future, you need to grasp
your cash flow. You need not only to accurately know your present
situation by tracking current spending but to be able to project
cash flows needed to achieve specific goals.
Happily, no great study is needed. You do not
need to bend over financial ledgers late at night under a weak
Just buy and use Quicken,
a system that monitors and records spending. Buy it discounted
through various catalogues, student stores, or computer stores,
instead of just copying from a friend, as you want to easily take
advantage of upgrades and various time-saving tie ins like downloading
your banking and credit card transactions, a huge convenience.
Dr. Voyageur loves Quicken. Unlike many
programmes that incorporate every customer input and thus become
more and more bloated in the process, Quicken continuously becomes more
and more of a pleasure to use with each new Mac or PC edition.
The tax savings alone from better cash management should pay for
For tax reports, you just push several keys.
Want to know how much money you will have 30 days from now? Just
push several keys.
The secrets to productive use of Quicken
- First, you have to accurately set up easy
to remember taxable and nontaxable expense categories, so that
you can have all of the income tax information you need at the
end of the year. Quicken has already set up the main categories
- Second, you must enter your income and
expenses on a regular basis, so that items do not get overlooked.
Dr. Voyageur does this at least once a week, and then throws
the receipts in a box that he does not need to sort through at
the end of the year. A lot of these can be download online, without tedious manual data entry.
As mentioned, all reports needed for tax preparation and other
purposes print out. The receipts are saved merely in case
of a tax audit. When audited once, Dr. Voyageur whipped
out comprehensive receipts and Revenue Canada went away empty
handed. He always saves tax-related receipts for a few years.
You need not set up a complicated filing system for these receipts. You will probably never need to access them. Just put the tax-related ones in one box and the others in another.
- Third, you should back up your Quicken
file each time that you have made entries preferably on more
than one DVD or external hard drive.
As a consequence of Quicken reminders and
cash flow projections, bills do not get overlooked, and you do
not run short of money between paydays.
Increasing our value to others
Non students reading along should have already
picked up many points. For example, the ways to earn more and
to have money for major goals and other perks apply to everyone.
You can work more hours. You can make yourself more valuable to
your employers or customers, and thus earn more for the time worked.
You can start some type of business that does not require substantial initial investment. In all cases, proper time
management is essential.
Let's focus some more on increasing our
value to others. If you are a student, you may be already doing
this by preparing for a more sophisticated job. What can you do
in the short term, however?
A few years ago, someone told Dr. Voyageur
that he would enjoy reading a book called How
to Sell Anything to Anybody by "The Worlds Greatest Salesman",
for an inspiring "rags to riches" story. If there ever
has been a title and author nickname to inspire distrust this
was it, but based on the recommendation Dr. Voyageur ploughed
Believe it or not, the title was accurate,
or at least to a large degree true.
No business is more competitive
than retail auto sales in the U.S., and Joe Girald, the author
(with Stanley H. Brown) who came from poverty, sold more new cars
on an individual basis than any other person in the United States. Moreover, he
sold them to people who for the most part were not wealthy.
Joe retired from the dealership,
but over the years, Joe built the habit of using his time effectively.
While the other salespeople were socializing between customers, arguing about sports and politics and
generally wasting work time, Joe was thinking of ways to promote
his business, talking on the phone with previous customers to
get leads, and sending out thank you, birthday, and holiday cards
to all his customers, which made him fresh in their minds.
Over time, Joe hired others to do the less
sophisticated tasks like sending the cards and taking people on
test drives. As a result, he was able to spend all of his time doing what
he did best, closing sales. Be using his time effectively, the flow of customers
through his office became extraordinary. An achievement by a man
with little education.
Now, is there any endeavour where Joe's
outlook would not produce rewards? If you believe his approach
will not work in your employment , it is time to seek better job
or to look at your situation more closely. Joe examined the world
around him, and so can you.
Increasing your cash flow
Furthermore, if you want to take that ski
trip to Switzerland or wherever, be debt free, own a home, and
achieve other goals, it is time, as already mentioned, to reevaluate
the 40 hour week. Your eventual goal is to work at a regular job
as little as possible. Unlike most people, on the other hand, you do
not want to wait until age 65 or 70 to achieve this.
In the short term, if you cannot significantly
increase your income per hour, Dr. Voyageur again urges that you
increase your working hours, but not to the point where this commitment
overshadows your essential social life and proper rest. By managing
your time, you should have a balanced life, while saving to achieve
other issues in financial planning such as auto insurance, leasing
or buying real estate, borrowing for university tuition, and on
One way to get a good overview of these
is to watch the hour-long Suze Orman CNBC show available by cable
or satellite in many countries every weekend.
Suze also has several fun but very helpful
books you may check out at a library or buy.
The Road to Wealth: A Comprehensive Guide to Your
Money--Everything You Need to Know in Good and Bad Times
9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual
Steps So You Can Stop Worrying
Dealing with emergencies
and prioritizing goals
Well, you're gaining control of your money.
However, problems come to mind.
The increased part-time work that Dr. Voyageur
advocates for students, for example, may not bring sufficient
funds for extreme emergencies, possible increases in rent and
tuition, and other unanticipated expenses, while leaving any left
over for pleasurable goals.
goals such as buying a new home or car, having money to send children
to excellent universities, and others may seem more important
than ski trips or similar fun goals. Thus, you may feel guilty
about spending your savings on pleasure, even if you have planned
and worked hard for what you want.
Well, dear reader, if there is one thing
in which Dr. Voyageur excels, it is not feeling guilty.
We cannot put off all pleasure forever.
Travel and other out of the ordinary experiences help us grow
as persons, and thus are justified as essential to our success
and fulfilment in life. For example, Dr. Voyageur is a great believer in the "gap year" taking a year off to travel the world and to engage in new activities. The education received from this types of experiences cannot be emphasized too much.
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Eating your way to financial
and physiological good health
As promised, here is an easy to prepare substitute
for pizza or other fast food that costs much less and hopefully
makes your doctor happy, yet tastes great.
Having pizza at times can be a real treat.
Having high-fat pizza or other fast food as your meal most of
the time bodes ill for your future well being. So, we're going
to make something else. You need
- a fairly large pot,
- some sort of pasta strainer or filter (although you can make do
- a frying or other large pan,
- smaller pan or pot,
- high-protein thin spaghetti or other pasta (preferably whole grain),
- salt (small amount),
- fresh broccoli or another green vegetable rinsed well and cut into bite size pieces (preferably organic),
- virgin olive oil (expensive but you won't use much each meal),
- fresh basil broken off from the larger stems or dried basil flakes,
- one or two chopped dark red vine-ripened tomatoes that feel soft
to the touch (try the organic section of your market),
- a small amount of grated good quality Parmesan cheese (which should
(Vegans can use any tasty animal-free protein instead of the cheese.)
- Fill the large pot with some six inches
of water (or more if cooking for a group) and a small amount of
salt and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, break a handful of spaghetti
in half and put it in the pot making sure that all goes under
water. Stir frequently until the water comes back to a boil to
avoid sticking. Believe it or not, boiling spaghetti can burn
if not stirred.
- Boil for ten to twelve minutes or for the
amount of time on the package. Do not overcook.
- While the spaghetti is boiling, put a small
amount of water, salt, pepper, he cut green vegetable
into the smaller pan or pot.
- Bring this to a boil and then reduce to
low heat and cover. Be sure that this also does not overcook.
- When done, add a bit of "good fat" olive oil or "not
so good fat" butter and stir. Also, add a bit of liquid from the boiling pasta, which helps the dish bind. Do not drain off the water,
which contains nutrients, before serving. If you have a steamer,
you may steam this dish instead of boiling.
- In the smaller pot or pan, now add enough olive oil, put in the chopped tomatoes, a bit
of pepper and salt, and cook over moderate heat (Good olive oil
does not like extremely high temperatures). Make sure that you
do not add too much salt because the pasta cooks in salt water.
- Once the tomato mixture becomes almost cooked,
add the basil and stir.
- Then sprinkle with the cheese, but do not stir.
- Drain well (but do not rinse) the spaghetti
and pour over the vegetable and tomato mixture. Toss as you would a salad. If
you wish, sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan cheese,
but not too much as you want this to merely coat
the pasta, not to overwhelm it. This is true Italian style.
Good? You bet. Healthy? More than before.
Dishes? Yes, but if washed before the food sticks, they clean
This dish, by the way, modifies easily.
You may substitute green or yellow squash for the tomatoes (or
add these to them), put in small amounts of low-fat turkey sausage
or nonfat soy sausage, vary the type of cheese, add oregano, include
well-rinsed broken spinach leaves with larger stems removed just
before done, add cream for more richness, and on and on.
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