Financial Life Lessons: What 36 Years Has Taught Me About Money
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Thirty-six years...whew, where did the time go? I've realized that once your hit a certain age, you literally just start to forget how old you are. My husband says it's because you don't have any more milestones to reach. Like turning 18 and becoming an "adult" (HA!) or turning 21 and finally getting to go to bars (legally at least...). I've never really had an issue with age, but for some reason, ever since I reached my 30’s, I have just had a hard time keeping track of how old I am. Well luckily Marie was here to remind me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love birthdays, especially my own. I love celebrating them, making a big deal out of them, no matter what age! I believe in long, multiple event celebrations, and since my birthday is at the end of the month, I get to enjoy the merriment all month long. So, for this end-of-June birthday post, Marie thought it would be a good idea to write something about my birthday, in all my infinite elder millennial wisdom. And so... Here are 36 financial tips, quotes, life lessons, and thoughts that have influenced me, inspired me, and guided me throughout my life. Some you may have heard before and will be pretty self-explanatory, but other's I've added my additional two cents. I hope some of these inspire and guide you as they have for me.
1. Track your net worth, but not too often. Every 3 months will give you a good status of whether you are on track.
2. Budgets aren't for everyone, but tracking your spending is. If you don’t know where your money is going, then you won’t know if you’re spending where you find value.
3. “Save on the things that don't matter, so that you can spend on the things that do.” – Mindy Jensen (Bigger Pockets Money)
This is one of my favorite quotes, and one that I try to not only keep in my thoughts and decisions, but teach to my son. In essence, it is saying to live an intentional life where you spend you money on the things that will bring value to you, and save (or don't spend at all) on the things that don't.
4. Share your knowledge with anyone willing to listen. Remember that it is not knowledge that's power. It's the application of knowledge that is power.
5. Speak openly and honestly about money with your children (at age appropriate levels). Teach your children about money. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give and costs nothing.
6. “When you’re up against a wall…it’s crazy the solutions that come out of that.” Armando Christian Pérez (Pitbull). Hardship can force us to think in new, creative ways that eventually make us stronger and more resilient.
7. If sharing finances with someone, schedule a recurring financial check-in with your significant other to review your accounts and financial goals. Even if it's once or twice a year (I like to do it for my birthday and Christmas...one of my favorite presents!) or more regularly like once a month or week. It helps keep everyone on the same page and ensure your long-term financial goals in sync with each other.
8. The power of a good Google search should never be underestimated! Google is your best friend when it comes to learning and information.
9. Never sacrifice your mental or physical health for a job, nor neglect quality time with your family for one. This was a lesson I was fortunate enough to learn very early on in my career. Jobs and earned income are necessary and important parts of our lives, but not everything. No job is worth losing yourself, your health, or family over. Time is limited, work is not.
10. "It always seems impossible until it's done" -Nelson Mandela.
I believe this so much that I commissioned Marie (the calligrapher behind Maiden September) to make a sign with this quote on it for my office. Every challenge I have faced, I have always thought "there's no way I'm going to make it out the other side of this" and yet, here I am. Seeing and thinking about this quote during challenging times has reminded me that there is nothing that has truly stopped me yet, and there is a solution to every problem, and that's what I need to focus on. Not the problem I am in, but the solution to get it done.
11. "Don't short sell you. You're awesome. Figure out how to share that with the world, because we need you to." - Ashley Goodall. In other words…know your self-worth!
12. Work smarter, not harder!
13. You only have control over the choices you make. (And this is coming from a self-proclaimed control freak!)
14. Put your energy into solutions, not problems.
15. Try not to regret things. A lesson can be learned from almost any mistake we make. Try to learn from your past, and don't spend your energy regretting the decisions you made. They seemed right at the time and if nothing else, have taught you not to do it again - if not something more profound like knowing your self-worth. Also, you never know where those mistakes will lead you.
I would not be where I am today without a series of happy (and many unhappy) mistakes.
16. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for personal finance. Everyone has different ways of budgeting (if you budget at all). Everyone has different ways of investing and different comfort levels of what to invest in. The key is not to follow what worked for someone else, but to research all the options, and then determine what works for you.
17. Surround yourself with the right people. Never underestimate the impact that the people around you may have on you and your successes.
18. Identify what is important to you and keep those in mind when making decisions. Maybe it's spending time with family and friends, maybe it's feeling secure and knowing you'll have a roof over your head and food in your belly, maybe it's travelling. Maybe it's all of the above.
19. Never stop learning. Be an eternal student.
20. "Enjoy your simple life, save your money, invest it wisely, and don’t lose your money. That’s how you get richer every day." - Warren Buffett
21. Overcome the reliance on motivation by creating a habit. Motivation can wane, but habits are instilled in you and become part of who you are.
22. “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn't, pays it.”- Albert Einstein. Do not underestimate the power of time and compound interest. If you were to have a magic penny that doubled every day for 30 days, you could wind up with $5,368,709.12 (and yes, that is right...I did the math).
23. "The journey is the destination and the destination is the journey" - Daniel Bartlett (BodyProject). There is no end point, so enjoy the now that you have. Enjoy the journey.
24. If you don't value your time, neither will others.
25. Progress, not perfection, is the key. Perfectionism has caused analysis paralysis and procrastination in me more than I care to admit. At some point, you just need to make the decision to make way for progress, and then adjust for whatever may come. If you have done enough preparation to make the effort to try, you are almost certainly able to handle anything that may come along that was not "part of the plan".
26. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. It can be all or SOMETHING. Small, incremental changes are what achieves goals. Just because you slip up one month on your money or health goals does not mean you have to give up all together. Also, just because you start small doesn't mean it's not worth it.
27. “You could drop dead today and your job would be listed tomorrow." The first time I heard this quote, I thought it seemed like a cold, albeit true statement, but if you think about it, yes, that's exactly how it should be. Unless you are the sole proprietor of a business, there is no reason a company should permanently retire your position upon your untimely departure, like some sports legend's player number. Death occurs, the world continues to spin, and business goes on. It's not cold, it's reality, however, it's important to understand that that pendulum swings both ways. Your employer should not cease all business just because you leave (by choice or not), nor should you cease living your best life for the sake of your employer. If nothing else, that saying should teach us to make the most of the time and experiences we have.
Focus on what brings you value and joy, and try to find some crossover between that and an earning an income.
28. Don't worry about coming off as seeming "cheap" or "broke". Be your real self when it comes to money. If you don't have money to do something or buy something, that is OK! Knowing what you can and cannot afford, and not sacrificing your future successes just so you can keep up with the Joneses is the win!
29. "Why would I think about missing a shot that I haven’t taken yet?" - Michael Jordan
30. "Great things never came from comfort zones." Nobody grows from a place of comfort.
31. "When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small." - James Clear
32. It's not about timing the market, it's about time IN the market. I know we hear this all the time in the FI community, but it's something I think we need to remind ourselves, especially during times of volatility. Think about it, if the market is down, you may be afraid to invest because you'll "lose money". If the market is up, you may be afraid to invest because the market is "too high to buy". So then when is the right time? You don't know when the exact highs and lows will be, so no need to worry about if the market will go lower or higher. Here's a secret: the market will always eventually go higher, so invest now and invest often!
33. Consistency is key to achieving any goal. Whether it be financial, health, career, or family. To accomplish something requires consistent effort, even if only in small increments.
34. Momentum is everything. It's hard to get going, but once you're started, you know you can do it, so you know you can keep going.
35. "The people that are there for you on your darkest nights are the ones worth spending your brightest days with."
36. “Everything happens for a reason.” Usually when people say this to you, it’s the last thing you want to hear, but it’s something that I have found to be profoundly true throughout my life. Some of my most positive and life changing experiences can be traced back to when something unexpected or challenging has happened to me. It is because I was being redirected to end up exactly where I should be.
I just want to end this with saying thank you. Thank you to Marie for being my ever-guiding big sister, best friend, and greatest business partner I could ever imagine. Thank you to my husband, Nate, for being the foundation that grounds me, my moral compass, and most importantly, best friend. Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me and Marie in Winenance, and throughout our lives. And most of all, thank you to our Winenance community. You are why we do this.
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