Does this money thing get any easier? We’re all in different stages. There are plenty of us who are just getting started or who are “in the middle” of our own journey with mastering money.
I’m here to tell you that getting ahead financially takes time; even for a well-educated, financially-nerdy, entrepreneur-oriented guy like me. It took me until my late 20s before I could fully wrap my head around (and act upon) some of the core concepts of personal finance. I’m still learning new things and setting new goals. It really is a process.
What is “Getting Ahead”?
Obviously we’re each going to have our own definition of what it means to get ahead financially. To use a cliche, personal finance is personal. But generally, I think getting ahead comes down to a few things.
- An awareness of where you are and where you want to be (i.e. establishing some type of goal).
- Seeing progress towards those goals. This could be reducing your credit card debts, increasing your emergency savings, setting up life insurance, or any number of things.
- Having the ability to fast-forward that progress, either through wise spending, increased income, or both.
- Developing a confidence in your ability to maintain your progress and, probably more importantly, not end up back where you started.
That’s really it. It’s less about a number. Who cares how much actual debt you have! There’s someone with more debt, and there’s someone with less debt who’s mismanaging their money. Who cares how much net worth you have compared to your peers! Your net worth is growing by huge percentage points. Proper money management is not a race against others. It’s a marathon; and you’re mostly competing against yourself.
What do you think it means to “get ahead”?
Things that Help in Your Journey
There are a few, less-tactical things, that I believe have helped me in my own journey:
- Learning to be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about doing without, or settling. I’m as capitalist as they come. Get as much as you want and get it today. But it’s much more important for me to be able to get as much as I want, than to actually get it. Beside, stuff just costs you more money.
- Seeking out value. Quality things, last. Things that you value, satisfy. That is all.
- Being conscious of opportunity. There are new opportunities everyday to make more, save more, and spend more wisely. Are you training your brain to spot them?
- Having a system but keeping an open mind. Financial systems and automation are important, almost critical in some ways. But don’t marry yourself to one way of thinking. Be open to different solutions.
- Accept that there is no end. While you can “get ahead”, there is no financial promised land. You are always going to have to deal with something money-related, even down to how to pay for your funeral. And really, you should always be making the most of what you have, which takes continued effort and education.
I don’t know where you are on your path to improved finances, but from where I stand today, I can tell you that it does get easier. Keep at it.
photo by moyerphotos