Here’s a financial advice that I recently received which I thought is genius. The advice simply says:
Get in line and stay in line
It’s a simple advice, but what does it mean exactly?
The concept is very simple. No matter who we are or how much skills or knowledge we have, we simply can’t do things on super fast and expect success. The faster we try to do something, the easier/faster we will fail. Imagine a long line at a cafeteria. Look at the first guy at the front of the line who is about to get his food. He’s now first in line but not long ago he was at back of the line, wondering when he would get to the front.
Everyone starts at back of the line at one point.
How often do we wait in line and switch to get in a new line because the original line was taking too long? Once we made the switch, the new line ends up being not much faster than the original line, or may be slower than the original line. Instead of continue waiting in the new line, we exit the line again and join yet another line. Do keep doing this exiting then joining a new line process again and again and we’re always stuck at the back of the line, never getting anywhere.
An analogy of this is the “chasing the shiny penny” symptom. We try an idea for a few days or a few months only to find that we’ve lost our interests, so we start on a new idea and start a new process. Because we’re always trying something new, we end up achieving absolutely nothing and wasting our time.
So how does this apply to investing and personal finance?
First of all, we can’t become a millionaire overnight. Yes we can win the lottery and become an instant multi-millionaire, but the odds are against us. To play the personal finance game right and to be successful, we have to be patient. We need to learn and have all the right tools and strategies. We need to learn about budgeting so we can control our cash inflow and outflow. We need to learn how to save money once we have budgeting sorted out. We need to learn about insurances so we’re covered when the unthinkable happens. Most importantly, we need to learn how to invest our money so they can grow and work hard for us. Unfortunately, so many of us want things fast and do not have patience to wait in the line. Speed kills, time is our best friend when it comes to personal finance. Learn to use it to our advantage.
If you’re just starting a budget system, keep it up for at least a year then review your spending history after 1 year. If you find flaws in the budget system, tweak it and modify it to fit your need. If you just started investing, put aside a small amount of money each month and slowly increase your portfolio. Read investment related books to slowly increase your investing knowledge. If you’re playing the dividend income game, set your dividend goals accordingly. Don’t start investing in dividend paying stocks the very first year and expect to have the dividend income to cover all your expenses.
Learn the right tools and strategies so you can grow your net worth slowly over time. Remember, speed kills so learn to get in line and stay in line. You will get somewhere eventually.