“When inspiration fails to come to me, I go half way to meet it”
I do not enjoy yardwork. It’s the part of homeownership that I like to contract out. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be frugal (and I am in so many other ways) but in this area, I just don’t enjoy it. The way I see it, I can utilize my time in other better ways that will bring value and joy to me. I do not mow our lawn and sometimes, I pay for someone to do some landscaping to the little garden on our front yard. I have also paid in the past for someone to get rid of the leaves in the backyard during Fall, though I always try to get it done myself. Most times, I lack the inspiration to just go outside and do it. We have a moderate-sized backyard, so it can be a lot of work. So it happens that my mother in law came visiting a few weekends ago. That Saturday morning, she wanted to go hang out on the back porch but noticed that it was already covered with leaves. There was indeed leaves scattered throughout the backyard. Even though it was 26 degrees outside, she put on a jacket and instantly decided to rake the leaves. And actually wanted to rake the whole leaves on the backyard (not just the ones on the porch) and put them in piles.
Inspired by this, my wife got a second rake to help with this work. I tried to tell them that it was too cold to do this yardwork and why couldn’t we just postpone this to when the weather was more clement? But they were determined and pushed on. They were packing the leaves in big piles. So I put on a light jacket, and brought out my BLACK+DECKER High Performance Blower/Vac/Mulcher. I started mulching the piles of dried leaves they had gathered. By the time the finished the whole backyard, there were 4 big piles. I figured if I could finish mulching 2 piles, that would be a big win and I could do the rest another day. However the inspiration I got from my mother in law and wife pushed me to defy my own set limitations. About 4 hours later, I had finished mulching all the piles of leaves. I surprised myself in the process. My Fitbit showed I got 20,000 steps from the process. If you had told me I would be able to achieve this, I wouldn’t have agreed. But the little inspiration I got pushed and challenged me tremendously.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means” – Albert Einstein
This incident really got me thinking and actually inspired this blog post. What is the value of inspiration in your life? Are there events or people who inspire you to greatness or success? This could be in all areas of your life: Family, Spiritual, Financial, Social, Physical and Intellectual. A lot of improvements I’ve made in several areas of my life, have almost been from some spark of inspiration from a book I read, a person who talked to me, a sermon I listened to, a movie I watched, an event that occurred etc. I particularly like to collect quotes from great people. Since my teenage days, I have always kept a book where I write down quotable quotes I come across while reading a book, an article or a blog post. I constantly refer back to this book often. It’s very uplifting and motivating for me. In the area of Personal Finance, this doesn’t get more obvious.
It is extremely hard to have the discipline to win financially. This is because to win, it involves you doing things that we are not wired to do easily: things like saving and investing. It is very hard to do. It is even harder to do it consistently and let it become a part of you. Sometimes you just feel like giving up. You may just get disillusioned and go on a spending spree and blow your money, killing your budget in the process. What about paying off debt? This is one of the hardest things to do. You hear stories of people who paid off a humongous amount of debt within a few years. Take for instance this family that paid off $345,000 in 3 years making a household income of $150,000 to >$200,000 annually during that 3 years. I have to tell you, if stories like that does not inspire you, I’m not sure what will inspire you. I know Dave Ramsey gets a bad rap sometimes, but his debt free screams segment is one of the reasons I enjoy listening or watching his shows. I come out feeling reinvigorated and ready to go.
Are you saving for a home down payment? It can seem to take forever to get to that hallowed 20% of the home price as down payment. It’s not uncommon to lose some steam and take your leg off the gas pedal. In times like that, you need a push of inspiration to keep you focused on the task at hand. Are you trying to pay off your consumer debt but feel disillusioned along the way? You will get a dose of inspiration if you hear a story of someone who paid off his/her debts within a short period in circumstances even worse than your own situation. Sometimes it challenges you to do things you thought you couldn’t do. It motivates you to cut down even further. It motivates you to be weird. That little dose of inspiration is needed frequently to keep you going and get to the finish line. If you have a family member who paid off all their debts in 2 years, would you ask them how they did it? And if they told you, would it inspire you to tackle your own debts and live a better financial life? I bet it will.
So we’re trying to pay off our house in a few years. Sometimes this gets tiring, seeing all the extra money we throw at the mortgage principal. Even though we’re completely laser focused on this, sometimes I try to second guess myself and wonder if this is a wise decision. During those times, aliquots of inspiration from stories of people who paid off their homes in a few years shock me back to life and keep me focused on the goal. The value is immeasurable. It helps keep me in check.
Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. For most people, it takes 1-3 decades. That means you have to get into the mindset of paying yourself first, constantly saving before spending what’s left, and not spending before saving what’s left. Building wealth means saving and investing in your retirement accounts, buying rental properties, saving and investing in taxable accounts. How do you do this over and over again without getting tired of it? Especially when you feel like you are missing out on life (YOLO and FOMO anyone?). You have to have an extra dose of inspiration to keep on pushing.
How Do You Get Financial Inspiration?
Well, nobody is an island. You have to depend on other people to draw inspiration. In Personal Finance, it is often better to learn from other peoples mistakes than making them yourself. Some financial mistakes can be debilitating. Use these simple methods to inspire yourself to reach your financial goals.
#1 Read a Book
I can’t stress this enough. There is so much knowledge distilled into a well written book. Some people spend years to research and write a book and it is often very inexpensive to buy. If you’re frugal like me, you can buy used books on Amazon for $0.01 +$3.99 shipping. Better still you can get free books from the library
#2 Read a Blog
It’s amazing how the internet has given us a lot of free tools. In the world of Personal Finance, there are probably thousands of blogs. You can learn one or two things from almost any one of them. Better still, you can start blogging yourself and it will help keep you accountable and learn a lot more yourself
#3 Listen to a Podcast
Have a long daily commute? Travel often? Don’t waste the time. It’s the best time to listen to a podcast. Just like blogs, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of podcasts you can choose from. Prefer to read books as audiobooks? You can do that while you’re commuting.
#4 Join a Financial forum
There are so many online forums dedicated to Personal Finance and investing. My favorite, and I personally think, the world’s best investing forum is Bogleheads.org. The great thing about this forum is that you can virtually learn about anything under the sun, not just about personal finance and investing. It’s free to the public. I’ve learnt a great deal from this forum. When I plan to travel to a new city or country, I usually post a question for the favorite places to visit or restaurants to eat in and I get instant answers. Questions are answered from thousands of members who are from different walks of life and different life experiences
#5 Befriend like-minded people
When I meet somebody and we start talking and I notice the person has some insight about Personal Finance or investing, my eyes usually light up. Typically I want to get to connect to the person more. It’s natural for me. Like I said, there is something to learn from almost anyone with some knowledge about money matters
Doing any of these 5 things listed above can give you snippets of inspiration and motivation to work towards meeting your financial goals. I constantly refresh mine so I don’t lose hope. We all need a little infusion of inspiration once in a while to help us focus on our financial goals. What inspires you?
Has anything or anyone ever inspired you to reach your financial goals? Do you try to inspire others? Share your experiences below.