One of my friends who is now a “gym-rat” was telling me about how his brother tagged along with him to invigorate his body with some work outs.
My friend has been at it hard for several years now, and I’d say though he’s definitely not Arnold Schwarzenegger, his bod is mod. He was expounding how his brother was quite upset after a few weeks. I can imagine the conversation going like this.
“Ugh. Why do you lift so much more than me!” the newcomer said.
The response, from my practical and no-need-to-hide-truth friend to his brother: “I’ve been at this for two years. How can you expect to be as strong as me after two weeks?”
How can you expect to have as much savings as your friend who dragged you along to visit their CFP® counsellor. How can I expect to have as much experience and knowledge as the man who hired me as an intern for the summer? He has 40 years of experience. The principles of finance are the same as weight lifting. Judge yourself based on where you are now. The best place to start, is where you are currently standing.
Resisting the impulse to compare yourself to others is a difficult one, and one that requires a ton of practice, patience, and of course failure from time to time. It’s like learning to ride a bike; you start with training wheels and, if you’re me, still end up falling off the monsterous thing and splitting your chin open on that random rock that’s in your driveway (I’m still bitter about that if you can’t tell).
Speaking of bitter, you can’t hold past mistakes against yourself either. You made a bad choice in taking out that auto-loan. Fine! You’ve never had credit in your life and can’t even pass a check to get an auto-loan. Fine! You’ve tried four fad diets and *shocker* none of them worked. Fine!
Here is where you start: Stop comparing yourself to others! Start comparing you to yourself and others who are at the point where you are.
Example: In my financial counselling class, where am I compared to these other kids with similar experience?
Bad Example: Walking into a room of M.D’s, where am I compared to these professionals with 30 years of brain surgery under their belt about identifying which nerve may or may not completely paralyze the patient permanently?
Let’s compare this to our financial selves. You’ve heard a thousand times that you need to start saving for yourself… I wrote down 10 of them when writing and then deleted them; you don’t need to hear it again. Why? Because you don’t need to own up to anyone else except you for your actions.
Napoleon Hill said it best,
“The right sort of actions require no embellishment of words. One of the most common mistakes is making excuses to explain why we do not succeed. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the world —those who do not succeed — are excuse-makers. They try to explain their action, or inaction, with words. When you succeed, accept the congratulations of others with good grace; when you fail, take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and move on to more constructive things. When your actions are appropriate in every circumstance, you will never feel the need to explain them with words. Your actions will say all that needs to be said.” -Napoleon Hill (NapHill.org)
If you are doing the best you can, no explanation is needed. But just like building a credit score, it is time to start building your financial experience. You choose how you are going to start saving, then start doing it!
Remember, the best time for change is when things change for you.
New college student: I’m going to build my credit score by dropping $50 on a secured credit card so I can have revolving credit go on my record.
Go out of state for a summer internship: Start working on them biceps and fat legs with that special Planet Fitness $1 down $10 a month deal you saw. (This isn’t much to do with finance, but it’s so true for me right now)
New job after graduation: I’m going to open a second bank account and put 10% of my wages into that so I’m saving.
Job change: I’m going to do better by maxing out my company 401(k) contributions that they match.
Moved across the country with your three children: We are going to start putting aside that $400 a month we’re saving on rent and save it for our children’s tuition in a 529 Savings Plan.
Shia LaBeouf proclaimed it best,
Don’t let your dreams be dreams
Yesterday you said tomorrow
So just do it
Make your dreams come true
Just do it
Some people dream of success
While you’re gonna wake up and work hard at it
Nothing is impossible
You should get to the point
Where anyone else would quit
And you’re not going to stop there
No, what are you waiting for?
Start saving, Just Do It. Start dancing, Just Do It. Step toward your goal and feel alive, Just Do It.
When you make a choice, don’t explain it to anyone. Don’t own up to anyone.
Own up to yourself.
Student of Financial Planning at Utah Valley University
Member of UVU’s student chapter of the FPA Association
Intern with Searcy Financial Services
Guest editing and creative writing advice from my good friend Rebekah White! Look forward to more of her powerful skills in making writing legible! Maybe next time I’ll even put some of her contact information in here.