I was at a “back to school” night a few weeks ago for my two oldest sons, now in kindergarten and 3rd grade, and had an interesting revelation. My children attend our local neighborhood APS public elementary school, and over the last few years I’ve seen how a community forms around parents, teachers, kids, and the surrounding neighborhood. On this particular night I had the school community collide with my working life when one of the moms stopped me to say, “Wes, keep posting your financial articles in the AJC and on Linkedin. They are really great reminders to keep me on track!”
I’m always focused on finding a topic for my articles that will answer my readers’ financial questions, but this mom’s comment reminded me there’s truly no one article, book or magical rule that suddenly launches people to financial freedom or early retirement. Instead, it’s the totality of advice, council and discipline over time that makes financial success possible.
I would estimate that 99.99% of us will not be rich from winning the lottery or by inventing time travel. Instead, we will find wealth methodically, much like we do with our physical health. One healthy meal of kale and chia seeds and running one 10K won’t set us up for a long healthy life. However, steady exercise and habitually avoiding junk food will keep us in shape, and give us the highest probability for longevity.
Financial health is similar in that we can’t open an IRA account, make one deposit, and then assume we’re set for retirement. True financial health is understanding how our daily financial decisions impact us as a whole. We don’t have to give up our daily Starbucks habit necessarily, but participating in our company’s 401k matching program or using my TSL budgeting system ensures the highest probability of longevity for our money.
Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” This is exactly how the path to financial success is carved.
No singular article you read will ensure that you can retire at age 55. However, I would suggest you think of each column or blog that you read as one of a thousand sessions you have with a personal trainer. They will keep you on track over time. It’s the sum of these sessions, lessons, and reminders that will lead you to a “retire sooner” state of being.
If you’re at the beginning of your training sessions, or if it’s been a little bit since you’ve been to the gym, I’d suggest starting with the following articles:
• What Is Your Rich Ratio?
• The Easiest Budgeting Program Ever Created: TSL
• How Money Works On Wall Street: The Power Of Compounding