There is no End to Personal Finance

I think most people go about the whole concept of personal finance from the wrong perspective. They see it as a stage, a journey, a rite of passage, until they can get to some magical place where they will no longer have to worry about managing money.

I’m sorry to say, I think they’re dreaming.

If my weight control efforts over the last five years have taught me anything, it’s that weight management doesn’t stop when your goal weight is reached, and your diet and exercise program can be relaxed. You see, the maintenance component is key to having long-term health.

It takes a great deal of mental and physical effort to “get there,” no doubt. When people do, they celebrate, pat themselves on the back, and just want to forget about the whole journey altogether and enjoy life for a while. Inevitably, many of them gain the weight (or more) back.

Personal finance isn’t somehow exempt from the natural laws of life. There is no magic number we can reach and say “Okay, no more—I’m done dealing with money management for the rest of my life.”

Consider the fact that every millionaire (or even the average well-to-do person) I’ve met is very careful about handling their money. I think most people mistake this for being “cheap” since there’s so much money available to be spent. Big mistake.

Getting to your first million requires all of the core tenets of personal finance—balance, discipline, habits, mindset, etc… Why should staying there be any different?

Consider the flip side of the coin—lottery winners. If I could have $1 for every story about one of them going bankrupt… This isn’t some kind of anomaly—people who manage their money poorly will continue managing their money poorly, with the few exceptions that wake up and make it work.

The moral of this story—absolutely have money goals, targets, benchmarks, or milestones. But don’t for a second think that there’s a time you’ll stop pushing, working hard, and making it happen. Your financial success depends on it.

Photo by jayneandd

7 thoughts on “There is no End to Personal Finance

  1. I agree to the utmost about how financial discipline is going to last my entire life. It’ll just play out in different ways as far as savings goals and retirement living, and so forth.

    So what are some ways that you would recommend a person enjoy their money? Discipline and structured goals are nice and very key to a solid financial future, but there’s gotta be some enjoyment throughout the process. As my step-father used to tell me, “Make your money work for YOU, don’t work for your money.” So how does a person not feel like they’re a slave to tracking their finances, living frugally to boost their savings, and budgeting to be able to retire comfortably?

    1. I think there’s a balance to everything. Being disciplined doesn’t mean not spending on entertainment or hobbies, or “toys,” if that’s what you enjoy. The problem, I think, is when we swing from super-discipline to no discipline at all.

      If we can CONSISTENTLY build enjoyment into a budget month after month, then that’s the best way to stay with the program for a lifetime.

      1. I like how you put it: “Build enjoyment into a budget….”

        Thanks for your words of wisdom!

    1. Goals? Absolutely. Finish lines? I avoid anything with the word “finish”–I never want to feel like I’m supposed to stop and rest, because that’s precisely what gets me in trouble. 😉

  2. Personal finance is indeed like weight management … it’s an ongoing, never-ending process. I heard someone say that you don’t “diet,” you simply make lifestyle changes, and then the pounds melt away naturally over time as a result of those lifestyle changes. The same is true for managing money.

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