Crawl, Walk, Run Your Way to Riches
April 19, 2007
I’ll never forget April 18th. No, not as the day the IRS extended the tax filing deadline, something much more memorable. I’ll always remember it as the day our little guy took his first crawl around the living room!
I’ve never been so proud of anyone before. I’ve never been so involved in such a huge step in someone’s life. I’m amazed at how much he’s grown and learned in the first ten months in this world. The process has been wonderful to watch and is a reminder that personal growth and success take time and persistence.
Our little boy didn’t start crawling the day he was born. It took him almost ten months to figure it out. He won’t start walking tomorrow and he won’t be running the day after he walks. Everything in life is a process and achievements are built one step at a time, typically on top of a previous success or lesson learned.
Taking the First Step
Your goal may just be to get a solid grip on your finances or it may as lofty as becoming independently wealthy. Whatever it is, the only way to get there is by attempting that first “crawl”.
Start with the basics of learning to budget your money. Once you know how much you have and where you’re spending you money make a plan to pay off any debts you have, especially credit card debt. The Simple Dollar has a great series called 31 Days To Fix Your Finances that can help you get on track.
Dave Ramsey has a multi-stage program he calls the Debt Snowball that people can use to help pay off their debt. He emphasizes that you shouldn’t move on to a new stage until you’ve achieved the goals of the stage you’re in. This applies not only to debt reduction but most financial concepts. Once you’ve learned to “crawl”, you can start learning to walk.
Start learning the basics of how to invest your money. Smart Money magazine provides a great online resource for beginning investors called Smart Money University. You can start off by investing in a mutual fund in your IRA, 401k, or 403b.
You might want work with a fee-only certified financial planner to help you build a financial plan for your future and advise you on what investments to get started with to meet those goals.
Some people never really move onto the running stage. Let’s face it, life is busy and you might not want to spend any more time or energy than you already have on your finances. This is perfectly fine. Once you have a good financial base and plan setup, as long as you are consistent you should do just fine. As they say, slow and steady wins the race.
However, some people want to learn more about finances and become active investors. If you have the urge to run, the first thing I’d advise is reading the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham to learn the difference between an investor and a speculator. Then I’d go through the series, 30 Days to Becoming a Better Investor. Being an active investor can pay off but attempting it without knowledge and discipline could lose you a lot of money.
Our little guy tried night after night to crawl and finally figured it out. Don’t get discouraged when things don’t make sense or don’t go according to plan. Keep learning and using what you’ve learned and you’ll make progress as well.
Don’t expect yourself to start rolling in the dough right away. Even moguls like Warren Buffett had to crawl and walk in the world of finance before they could run with the big dogs. If a few months old baby has the fortitude to keep trying and learning don’t you think we can do the same?
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All posts by Ben Edwards