Personal Finance Doesn’t Absolve Personal Responsibility

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I’ve noticed a theme I seem to keep harping on in my latest posts where I keep whining (let’s call it what it is) about various companies or entities. I just want to clear something up right now that I first believe in Personal Responsibility. In my own life my stupid financial mistakes and poor purchasing chooses are clearly my own. An outside entity or corporation did not force me to trade in a relatively new car for a brand new truck. The mortgage companies did not hold one of my family members hostage to instigate the purchase of my first home with zero money down. They surely made it easy for me to make those poor decisions by loaning me the money, but the responsibility is mine alone. I don’t want to sound preachy but an important first step in getting your personal financial life in order is understanding that it’s yours to manage. It’s also your mess to clean up.

Some Internal Responsibility Conversations

These may be some thoughts rumbling around in your own grey matter, I certainly have had many of these conversations with myself.

My Employer just doesn’t pay me enough so I can’t get ahead. No one’s holding a gun to your head making you work there. You can find another job, or even take on another. Your income is one of your best tools for building wealth, so if you are unhappy with your current job, look elsewhere. Even in today’s strained economy people are hiring.

If I just win the Lottery, I’d be set. If you were just hit by lighting you wouldn’t care anymore, and your odds are better. Read some books, take a class, start an online business. Figure out how to start your own lottery with only one ticket ever printed, you’ll win every time.

Bob has a Lexus, how can he afford that we do the same thing? Odds are Bob can’t afford it. Do yourself a favor and check out “The Millionaire Next Door” from your local library. Most Millionaires drive Ford’s and Toyota’s. Who would you rather be? Aspirational or a Millionaire? This one’s hard for me I admit it. I love cars and gadgets, and when I see someone with something new and shiny I become envious, and always call to question how they can have that but I can’t. This book as well as “Start Acting Rich” both by Thomas Stanley have helped me a lot to be more realistic about some of these areas in my life.  Again I don’t deserve these things, they are just stuff.  I want them.

Personally Own Your Finances

This is an important enough concept that I want to detail it a little more. By taking responsibility for yourself and your finances, you are putting yourself in the drivers seat. No one is ever going to care the same about your own fiscal life as much as you and that’s the way it should be. Sure you can hire some outside help to give you advice, but that needs to be tempered with your own knowledge and experiences.  So when the financial planner recommends that you put your emergency fund in a Short Term Bond use some of your base knowledge that you’ve hopefully learned here and through your own pursuit of knowledge you’ll be able to ask some hard questions.

Admit Your Mistakes and Move On

We’ve all made mistakes.  I’ve been making them most of my life, reviewing them and learning from them will keep you from repeating the mistake.  James Joyce said “A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” Dwelling on your mistakes will quickly take the wind out of your sails.  Use that mistake as a springboard for finding your next mistake and consequently your next discovery.  This is also true of excuses.  Rather than admitting a mistake we often find somewhere else to place the blame.  That’s not going to help your financial situation either.  My 6th grade teacher Mr. Kerns used to say “Excuses are the refuge of cowards.”  And as far as maxim’s go that has stuck with me all of my life and it will always ring true.

Take to Arms

Dave Ramsey often quotes Charlie Tremendous Jones who said “Five years from now you will be pretty much the same as you are today except for two things: the books you read and the people you get close to.” Your going to have to go out there and find those people yourself but here’s a great list of books to help you in the right direction.

The Total Money Makeover If you are just going to read one book on your financial journey this could be it, especially if you are facing a mountain of debt. This book will help simplify your financial life and give you the tools to get going. Grab this book and subscribe to FiscalGeek and you’re set.

The Millionaire Next Door I absolutely love this book. If you are a number geek then you’ll be so at home. Think you don’t need a budget? Find out why 78% of all the millionaires polled still use one themselves.

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream This is a great read and true account by Adam Shephard who decides on graduating from college that he’s going to head to a city with basically no money and see if he can make it.

48 Days To The Work You Love If you’re sick of your job, or can’t figure out how to get ahead, Dan Miller has some great advice for those looking for a career change or even finding the job you really want in your own company.

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