Thursday, July 31, 2014

The "Finished Product"

So often times in life I get extremely focused on a long term goal and the finished result.  It can be a fitness goal, financial goal, spiritual goal, etc...

Last summer it was building our house.  I wanted that house built and I wanted it built fast.  Basement dug.  Good.  Concrete poured.  Great.  Framed and roofed.  Sweet.  Everything was going along splendidly until we hit the dry in stage.  Progress slowed.  I became frustrated and irritated that nothing seemed to be getting done.  My bank account didn't seem to notice that nothing was being done however and we continued to dump loads of cash into the house for materials.

I'm glad I took pictures everyday.  It allowed me to view progress....and not go crazy.

I was suffering from what many Americans suffer from.  I-want-it-now-itis.  Many people (myself included) occasionally have a problem with ignoring the process that is needed to obtain the product or outcome they desire.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Well thanks a lot Lao-tzu.  That really solves my problem here.  Now take your ancient drivel and shove it...

you get the picture.  The concept behind this quote however is what makes it truth.  As Americans however we for some reason ignore this simple truth.  I think youtube, media, culture, etc... is probably responsible for this mindset.  All you get to see is the finished product.  When you look at a dancer or basketball player or painting it can be easy to brush aside how much skill it takes to accomplish the finished product.  I can do that you think.  I can shoot par on pebble beach you might say.  It can't be that hard.

So you wrangle up some clubs and hit the local links for your shot at awesomeness.  The first hole errors are easy enough to shrug off.  Just warming up after all.  The second and third hole had sand and the fourth had a creek no one could cross.  By the six or seventh hole you realize golf isn't that easy and you either blame the clubs, weather, or grounds crew for your lack of success.  You return home to watch the PGA from your couch and lament that if you had a caddy too, it would have been different.

Our minds are quick to rationalize how "easy" or "quick" accomplishing a goal might be.  After all we see "perfection" every day.  Then when we cannot achieve, it is much simpler to justify outward factors at why we fail and return to drudgery. 

I want to challenge this common thought process.  Take ownership of your shortcomings.  It is the only way to improve.  After all if you always pass the buck then the world and your life seem out of control.  There is nothing you can do to solve your problems.  That is one helpless way of living.

Instead take this pledge.

No.  I say no to this rubbish.  I WILL take control of the factors that I can control and I WILL own up to my failures.  In fact I will relish them.  Failure to me is simply one step closer to success.  What I did wrong will become a stepping stone to success.  No one can stop me.  Nothing can deter me.  Ever. 

Say this to yourself as you struggle to get fit.  Think it as you pay off debt.  Obsess over it during your darkest moments when it seems the whole world is against you.  Just continue to put one foot in front of the other.  Take a break from life.  Look around you.  Look at what you have done.  Enjoy that you are still here, you live to fight another day.  If you have been working at a goal for a while look back at where you started and how far you have come.

Know that success does not come over night.  Others may only see the now or the "finished product."  Always enjoy the fact that you get to see the struggle and that makes your finished product or goal that much sweeter.            

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Combing the Financials

As I sit here this morning, sipping my hot tea in my leather backed dumpster salvaged chair, I realize there is a lot of good and contradicting advice about finance.

There is tons of information on what you should and should not do with your money.  Everyone has an opinion, including myself.  Yahoo finance, MSN money, Mr. Money Mustache, +20SomethingFinance.com, and many others all have views on what you should do with your cash.  I read a lot of blogs and for the most part they all usually convey the same basic message.  Save more, make more, spend less, invest, and be happy.

GREAT.  GRAND.  B. E. A. UTIFUL!... but what happens when you disagree with the advice given, or maybe even the personal viewpoints behind the advice.  What do you do then?  Do you fire off an angry comment or email?  Do you unsubscribe from their blog never to return and remove the site from your favorites (do people actually use favorites)?

Well here at the old school way of thinking I shun such behavior and thinking.  I believe that just because you don't agree with someone does not mean that you can not still be friends with them.  I believe that just because you disagree on minor issues, you should still be able to agree on the overall opinion(s) of a selected topic.

Finance.  Old School's way of thinking.
So back to the topic at hand.  What is one major area every one can agree upon, something that is fact rather than opinion?  If you make more then you spend there will be money left over at the end of the month.  Pretty basic.  How do you track this?  Create a budget.  Here is where we come to some disagreement but let me put an end to that right now.  If you don't have a budget you don't truly know where every single cent is going.  Maybe you would have a basic idea of where all your money goes but without a written budget you are failing to plan and thus planning to fail.

So first step should be a written budget.  There are many different types of budgets out there (zero based works for me), but I think it is important that you adopt what works best for you.  JUST WRITE IT DOWN and track it.

Now let us assume that you have budgeted and are making some extra dough that isn't being spent.  Congrats.  This takes hard work and dedication and I sincerely offer my #winning because you are working and working hard.  The next step is take that extra money and...

once again I come to a fork in the road.  Multiple forks actually.  Saving, Investing, Spending, and Giving.   And each fork has multiple splits within the roads, subsections if you will.  401ks, money markets, charities, IRAs, cars, college, etc.... OH MY GOSH!!!!  MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE you shout.  There is just too much information circulating to even make a rational choice.

You are correct.  This where this blog differs from some of the other financial schools of thought.  I'm not going to give you exact advice on what the best investment is.  The best investment for me may not be the best for you.  I may be able to afford that brand new Porsche 911 (I wish), and you may not.  I don't care if you spend $4 on starbucks every morning even though I would never dream of doing that myself.

Your situation is your situation.  I can't judge you and won't by the way, because everyone has to make their own decisions.  That is part of what makes you an adult.  Making your own choice based on a plan that you think will work best in your life.  Then after executing said plan you get to live with the consequences...

...so where does this leave us after having worked hard and gotten some extra cash?  Well I would say that decision is up to you.  In other articles I will break down how I save money, invest, and give.  The one thing I know is that you can always just throw your extra money into a bank account that is federally insured and at least you know it will be there when you need it.  I know that everyone has an opinion on how or where to store extra cash, but listen up.  If you decide later on you want to spend that money it will be there.  If you want to save it differently it will be there.  If you want to invest it, it will be there.  See where I'm going with this.  Take some time, read a lot, make a plan, and then execute.  Don't worry if your extra cash sits there for a while you really aren't losing that much time.  Don't worry about following every article to a T.  Life is messy.

Take a deep breath.  Relax.  Enjoy messy.     


Monday, July 28, 2014

Old School Intro

Old School Coinage.  What the heck is this about you might wonder if you stumble across my blog.  Maybe you come here with preconceived notions.  Maybe you think you already know what I'm about.  Oh great.  He is just another personal finance blogger who doesn't take the time to edit his content so there are tons of grammatical errors and run ons and rambling thoughts about how my life sucks and his is awesome and how I can be awesome too if I follow his advice!

WELL LET ME SET YOU STRAIGHT!... except on the grammar thing.  You were dead on about the grammar thing.

I am not just another finance blogger or minimalist or even a very good writer.  I'm just a somewhat normal gentleman who thought my random opinions and societal views would make a good story.  I DO NOT have the patience to write a book, so I thought hey why not write a blog.  Blogs take less time.  I can pick up and leave off when ever and where ever I choose.

TO BEGIN

As stated above I intend to write and unleash some of my thoughts on this blog.  Some will be related to finance.  Some will not.

I am a gentleman.  An old school gentleman with old school thoughts and views mixed with a little spice.  I am not old school like the old guy on your street that yells to keep off his grass and drives slowly in the passing lane.  I am not old school like the movie old school starring Will Farrel.  I am old school in that I believe you get what you pay for.  I am also old school in the fact that I believe a man should hold open the door for a women/gasp/leaving page now! 

If you were offended by that last comment good.  Leave my page and never return...or you can keep reading and maybe find something useful.

The whole point of Old School Coinage is that I believe current American societal views are a little too easy to follow and I want to challenge your way of thinking.  If at the end of reading a blog post you disagree then that is ok, but I want you as a reader to have a better understanding of why you believe what you believe in.  That way you become a more well rounded individual instead of just repeating what you read, watched, or heard.