Today I asked myself a question: “Are there any financial gurus who aren’t religious, right wing, racist, homophobic, or inflammatory?” I asked myself this because, although I am incredibly interested in finances, wealth-building, etc., I continually feel disappointed when I pick a financial expert to follow.
Inevitably (so far, in my experience), they end up saying something that reveals religious, right-wing, white supremacist, or vehement anti-“liberal” bias. I put liberal in quotes because many of these people treat that word like some kind of slur. The limited, and/or biased mindset is off-putting, and leaves me mistrusting the rest of their advice. I think some of this is due to our culture’s obsession with entertainment. Inflammatory people seem to be the ones who get shows. People like to be stirred up and inflamed, apparently. This is why I don’t consume a lot of media.
On the other hand, some of the progressive people whom I admire on a human level don’t seem to have financial literacy. The political solutions they propose are sometimes unrealistic or irresponsible. It’s important to have a conscience and help people, but it’s also crucial to spend only what we have. If we really put our minds to it, I believe we can provide for our most vulnerable members of society while still being fiscally responsible. It might require more of us to be more generous in our day-to-day lives. But that’s a blog post for a different day!
So, the guru situation leaves me in a no-man’s land. I desire financial literacy, but can’t receive it effectively from people who don’t seem to like or respect me, given their rhetoric. I’ve had to hold my nose and learn what I can from the “experts”, while translating or ignoring any bigoted, right-wing, or religious commentary.
The good news is, this is very possible. You can always learn from people, whether or not you like them. All people are infused by the Universe with potential gifts, talents, and capacities. Wisdom can come at you from anywhere, if you are aware and perceptive. So don’t be too quick to dismiss people, even those whom you may not like personally. But, just like all people have gifts, all people have flaws. Follow the teachings, not the teachers, and you’ll be fine!
That being said, Tony Robbins (who is not, to my knowledge, a bigot, right-wing extremist, or religious zealot) has a great book called Money: Master the Game, which I have been reading for several weeks now. It is a great book for financial inspiration and practical steps to take to prepare a sound financial future.
The biggest flaw of the book is that he continually makes reference to an app that is impossible to find anywhere. I’ve gone on the website, and on Google store; I’ve seen that others have searched for this elusive app, but, thus far, I have not found it. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the number of times Tony mentions the app in his book. It’s maddening. So, just ignore that and just absorb everything else.
Here are some of the principles I have learned from the book thus far:
- Set aside a dedicated amount of money each month for investing.
- Invest in yourself! Discover ways to increase your value in the marketplace, as this will raise your income, and get you to your goals sooner.
- Consider the fees when investing. When the gurus tell you the potential returns you can make on an investment, they are often neglecting to take the fees into account. The actual returns are often much lower, so read the investment’s prospectus.
- If you don’t have any extra money at the moment, make a commitment to set aside a portion of your future raises. This has been demonstrated to work well.
Tony doesn’t say much about debt in this book. But, in my opinion, if you have debt, it’s wise to split your extra money between savings and debt repayment. Debt, especially consumer debt, really eats away at your potential for financial growth. So, focus on getting rid of that crap, but maintain the habit of saving, even if it’s only a small amount to start.
Dave Ramsey (super right wing and religious) says to focus only on one activity at a time – first save $1,000.00, then only pay debt, then go back to saving up a 3-6 month “emergency fund.”
I did start with the $1,000, but I think it’s better to continue the savings habit while paying off debt, even if the savings is small. It’s more about the habit than the amount. Although progress can feel maddeningly slow – just like with weight loss – slow and steady wins the race. Habits are the foundation for all meaningful change.
So, rather than focusing only on the numbers, focus on your habits. Focusing on habits is more encouraging, and naturally leads to the results you’re seeking. I do believe in focusing on one debt at a time, but my reason also has to do with habits. If you pay off your debts smallest to largest, not only will you feel encouraged, you’ll be less willing to use that card again.
It’s like cleaning up the kitchen. Once you clean it all up, regardless of how hungry you might be, you won’t want to mess up that kitchen again! If, on the other hand, you tackle all the debts at once, instead of focusing, you’ll be discouraged. You’ll feel like you’re just throwing money into the wind, and it’ll be more likely that you’ll just give up and go back to accruing debt. This is why I’ve chosen the “smallest-to-largest” option.
The other alternative is to focus on the debt with the highest interest. This is also fine, as the smaller ones will get paid as you go. I put my numbers into a cool app called “Debt Payoff Planner.” I discovered that the difference in time to be debt free (between highest interest first, and smallest balance first) was only a couple of months. So, I’d rather get rid of those little debts and banish them to hell. Another option is to focus on the debt you want to get rid of first. The important thing is focus. There is serious power in focus!
So, best of luck as you build your financial house! Be patient, keep plugging away, keep looking for opportunities to make more, and to be more. And don’t get caught up in the cult of personality. Follow the teachings, not the teacher. And always put your own values and priorities first. You can do it!
Let’s all hold each other accountable and reach our dreams together!