In BBC’s version of Sherlock Holmes, the super sleuth doesn’t seem to care much about money. Sherlock instead lives for his cases. He even refuses an advance check for “The Blind Banker” because he didn’t need an incentive to crack the case.
But here’s the reality: Sherlock isn’t wealthy — at least not wealthy enough to afford a flat on his own. So, like anyone else, this sleuth has to learn how to manage his money. To help him get a clue about handling his finances, here are our top 5 tips, along with what you can learn from Sherlock’s mistakes.
1. Be committed to your goals
To say that Sherlock is dedicated to his cases is an understatement. He was even willing to put his health at risk with a drug trip to prove that Jim Moriarty is indeed dead.
When it comes to your financial habits, “the game is on” every single day. If you get too complacent with managing your money – even for a month or two – you can be vulnerable to unexpected expenses that can cripple you financially.
To stay the course, first, review your current plans for budgeting and saving. Then, determine if you’re doing everything you can to improve your financial situation. To help you out, use a bank account like the Chime Spending Account, which allows you to get instant notifications to track your spending.
Another tip: If you’re paying off debt, make sure you’re on an accelerated payoff plan and stick to it.
2. Automate as much as possible
Daydreaming about your life when you become financially independent is exciting. Maybe you have plans to travel the world, have a nice house, or start a business.
But doing the day-to-day stuff like paying bills? As Sherlock would say, “Dull, boring, predictable.” The fact of the matter is that you have more important things to do than track every little financial detail. Fortunately, financial institutions make it easy to automate most of these actions.
If you have a recurring expense, for instance, check to see if there’s a way to automate making monthly payments via your bank, and sign up for autopay on your credit cards and loans. You can also set up automatic transfers for retirement and other savings goals. The more you automate your money management, the more time you’ll have for things you actually enjoy.
3. Have an insatiable appetite to learn
If something is important to Sherlock, he’ll move heaven and earth to learn as much as he can about it.
While no one is asking you to memorize 243 types of tobacco ash, it’s good to know about different financial apps and services so that you can get a handle on your own money management.
It’s also a good idea to educate yourself about your credit score and how your actions affect your future savings goals, like socking money away for college and retirement. In addition, some investment options may offer better tax advantages than others. By educating yourself, you’ll be well-versed in the best strategies for you and your future goals.
The key here is to avoid making a financial decision based on something someone else told you. Instead, take the time to research your options to come to your own judgment.
4. Focus on the things that matter
Despite Sherlock’s know-it-all nature, there are some areas where his knowledge is lacking. For example, when asked whether the earth orbits the sun, he says:
“What does that matter? So we go round the sun! If we went round the moon, or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn’t make any difference.”
When it comes to your money, one thing that doesn’t make any difference is what other people are doing with their money. If your friends are buying a big house or driving shiny cars, you don’t have to follow suit. Instead, focus on your own financial goals and work to achieve them. Comparing your situation with that of your peers can set you back and make it hard to recover.
5. Take out the emotion
When on a case, Sherlock remains utterly impassive; all that matters are the facts. Yet, in reality, things can get emotional when money comes into play. When house shopping, for example, emotions can cause you to buy a house you can’t afford. When at the mall, you might be more interested in how you look in a pair of jeans than how much those pants cost.
Although there can be room for emotional spending, it’s advisable to keep it to a minimum. This will help you avoid overspending. With a large purchase, take at least 24 hours to decide whether it’s the right choice. Doing this can help cut down on buyer’s remorse and keep more cash in your bank account.
One Thing to Learn from Sherlock’s Mistakes: Know Your Limits
In the very first episode of Sherlock, our favorite detective seriously considers taking a pill that could kill him. Why? To prove that he’s smarter than his antagonist. Fortunately, level-headed John Watson saved his life.
Similarly, you may feel like you’re clever enough to take on big risks and come away unscathed. You might consider skimping on health or life insurance or trying your hand at day trading stocks. But, here’s a dose of reality: If you can afford adequate insurance, it’s wise to have it. And unless you’re an experienced investor, it might be better to stick to mutual funds.
It doesn’t take a detective to uncover this piece of advice: even if you consider yourself savvy with money, it’s best to know and respect your limits.
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