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How many good summers do you want?

Martin Hawes, financial adviser and outdoor adventurer, wrote the inspirational book Twenty Good Summers many years ago. It’s still in print, and I believe his message grips the imagination of everyone.

His message is simple: 

• Work less
• Live more
• Make more money

The book explains how you can prioritize your needs and wants. If you want to work less, live more and make more money, then having a healthy respect for your finances and what is important is a challenge you need to face today. It is the very simple decisions that make the biggest impact. Things like buy a cheaper house or car, don’t borrow for lifestyle expenses, and save on a regular basis are choices that will save you thousands of dollars. This saved money will allow you to have those 20 good summers.

As Dave Ramsay, the famous American icon of finance, said that when it comes to money: “People buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even like or might not even know. They just want to look good.”

Good summers equate to having the money to afford the lifestyle you want. There has been a raft of research articles in the last two years, demonstrating that over 30 per cent of the population are under financial stress to the point where it is affecting their health, relationships and productivity at work. Most of this boils down to a lack of money management skills leading to excessive debt.

The latest research by FINSIA found that an alarming 94 per cent of those consumers confident with their finances show bad habits or a misunderstanding of basic financial concepts.

To reach the financial freedom and the lifestyle you want, self-education is the place to start. Set yourself the task of reading one book about finance each month or so. Start with the great Australian authors such as Noel Whittaker or Scott Pape, the Barefoot Investor.

Most people seem to go ‘brain dead’ at the mention of reading a finance book, but I can assure the simple rules of money management explained by these authors will not phase you.

Are you time-poor?

I have overcome this problem by creating a set of three-minute video clips that explain the basic concepts of money management. Sign up for the program and each day you can spend just three minutes learning a little more about money management.

Financial literacy: It’s time for a grassroots self-help program

Financial literacy in Australia is a national disgrace. We don’t even have financial literacy taught in our schools. The government seems to be otherwise occupied.

If there are any employers reading this article, Financial Mappers is offering a free financial literacy program. Get your employees to sign up for Money Smart Tips in 3-Minutes a Day as a group effort. Find time during your staff meetings to discuss some of the issues raised in these video clips. Ask your local financial adviser, accountant and mortgage broker to visit and discuss how your employees can better manage their money.

Research is showing that employees under financial stress lose 2.4 days of work time a year. Is it time for you to address this problem? Bring money worries out of the cupboard. Talking about money worries with workmates and a little support from those with good financial skills may be all they need to get them motivated and back on track. It doesn’t cost you anything, but you can show your staff that you care about their wellbeing.

Glenis Phillips is the author of Map Your Finances and the designer of Financial Mappers. 

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