There are thousands of posts about super-dee-duper financial systems that can help you pay off debt, curb spending and invest like a pro. I should know, there is a shit-ton of them on this site (if I do say so myself 🙂 ). The interweb is packed with top-notch information to help you implement a system that can make a life-changing difference. To name a few: Debt-Snowballs, Avalanches, Tidal Waves, Budgets, Anti-Budgets, Zero-Sum budgets, Latte Factors, Baby Steps, etc, etc, etc.
Side note – Head over to Freedom Is Groovy and check out my Guest Post“The Pervasive Waste of Your Tax Dollars: City Government Edition“
However, they are making one humungo-giant assumption (that is a technical term for something that is humungous and giant).
That you actually WANT to change.
This thought hit me recently when I was reading through comments on my Budgets Suck post. Multiple people were pointing out that you need discipline to follow my anti-budgeting approach (Which is 100% accurate – you do need discipline). But you also need discipline to budget. You need discipline to save. You need discipline to invest. You need discipline to stick to anything long enough for that change to be impactful. There is no such thing as a 1-day diet, just like there is no such thing a 1-day financial fix.
If you don’t actually want to change, you will start (or not start) and peter out. It’s ok, it usually takes a few rounds of failure before getting fed up with the status quo. It took us 3 attempts to figure out budgets weren’t going to cut it for us and find something that works.
If you are failing consistently, maybe you haven’t found the right motivation to take control. Sit down and figure out why you want to change.
Do you want security?
Be more attractive to potential mates?
An “F-You” fund so you can tell your boss to go pound some sand while you stroll out to the beach?
Simply wanting more money won’t cut it. You need to put a purpose behind your pile of cash.
I recommend the book Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach if you need help uncovering your motivation
The Information is Out There
If you are reading this post, you are taking a step in the right direction. Taking the initiative to read about personal finance and educate yourself about the wonderful world of Financial Independence. The good news is, there are a lot of people in various stages that have done or are trying to do this and are writing about it.
A few of the many examples:
- I paid off $40,000 in student loans in less than two years on a teacher’s salary
- In just 5 years I went from $2.26 to a Millennial millionaire
- In 3 years we paid off $60,000 in debt while building a $90,000 nest egg (Selfish push of our own story)
- My name is Steve, and I just retired at the age of 35
From Teachers to Entrepreneurs, from $40,000/year up to a few hundred thousand a year, people have found ways to completely change their life. The success is not unattainable, but it’s not easy either.
They have sacrificed, but not as much as you might think. Once you figure out what you actually enjoy spending money on, cutting back in the less important areas doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
One thing I have consistently noticed in the FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) community – don’t be afraid to throw normal out the window and do things your own way. If 9 out of 10 people think you are crazy, you are probably doing something right.
If you want to seek out more information beyond this site and the ones above, start at the Rockstar Finance Blog Directory, there are over a thousand Personal Finance bloggers over there
What only you can do for you
We can provide all the information you can consume, but only you can turn that information into a success story. We won’t be there to change your 401K contribution. Or slap the credit card out of your hand before you buy a ton of stuff to sit in the garage.
“The journey starts with a single step—not with thinking about taking a step.” – Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge (Great Book)
Continue that Journey with steps 2, 3 and 4. Instead of seeking perfection, focus on iterating as you learn.
Action > Knowledge
A lesson from software development
If people waited for each and every piece of software to be perfect, nothing would ever be released. They would be handcuffed seeking perfection. Instead, we release early and often, adding incremental value to the end user, who then provides feedback that influences our next release. That cycle keeps us from delivering something people don’t actually need or want.
Treat your finances the same way, with you and your family being the end user.
- Set your goal
- Learn about the various strategies to achieve your goal
There is nothing wrong with failing, it is a natural part of the process. The reason you want to improve your finances is far more important than the actual strategy you choose. Strategies don’t motivate, it is a framework that aids your motivation. If you don’t know why you want to change, you will fail.