Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finance Lessons Learned - FINCON11

I was lucky to be able to spend three days with some of the most influential personal finance bloggers at the Financial Blogger Conference this past weekend. I brought home a notebook completely filled with notes from presentations and inspirational quotes from the big hitters to help me improve my blog content, design and reach. My action list is now a mile long after the great ideas that came from both impromptu conversations and formal presentations. Even though these bloggers didn't specifically discuss strategies for improving personal finances, I thought I would share a few snippets of wisdom with you that can provide essential advice for those of us trying to get our financial act together.

"What does your dream look like? How do you get there?" 
~ Kelly Whalen, The Centsible Life
If you are reading this, you most likely know that you want to pay off debt and get your finances in order, but do you know what it is you are working towards?
Telling yourself you want to fix your finances but not having a very clear vision of what success means is a little like hopping in your car and planning to drive to Penny Hill, Delaware without any type of GPS or map to help you out. You have a general idea where it is and you may get there eventually, but it's going to take a lot longer, and once you do arrive there is no guarantee that Penny Hill is the right place for you.

As you create your finance plan, make sure to take into account your end destination to help steer you down the right path. And make sure you have thought through your options - Money Island Beach, North Carolina might be a better fit than Penny Hill.

"Perfect is the enemy of the good." 
~ Adam Baker, Man vs. Debt
Ok, so Voltaire actually said it first but this is a very important point to understand. Perfectionism is a disease I have struggled with most of my life. What I have come to realize is that as you strive to move closer and closer to perfect, the results achieved by that extra amount of effort you put forth quickly begin to diminish at a certain point in the process. If you feel like your effort expended still achieves worthy results, then keep going!! But at some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and the extra 12 hours you spent on that work assignment goes mostly unnoticed by your boss (who always ends up making changes no matter how perfect your finished product).

If you strive for financial perfection you will never feel success when you accomplish a major milestone. If you don't feel successful you will eventually give up. Trust me. Be great with your financial efforts but don't strive for perfection at your own detriment.

"Personal finance is more than just frugality." 
~ Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You to be Rich
Extreme couponing, making your own laundry detergent, cutting your cable - we've all heard the suggestions for cutting back on your budget. But there is so much more to your finances than creating a budget and cutting costs. You also need to ask yourself why. Why do I continue to spend on unnecessary items when I know I don't have the money? Why do I need the fancier and more expensive version of [insert anything here]? Why do I care what people think about my house/car/clothes when most of those same people are probably swimming in debt?

Yes, look at the numbers. But also look at yourself and try to figure out why you got into this predicament in the first place. Otherwise you will find yourself achieving your financial goals one day, and then right back in the very same financial place the next.

What inspirational messages do you keep in mind while trying to stay on track with your finances? What lessons have you gotten out of these messages?

Stay tuned,

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