Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting An Advantage

Mark Twain is quoted as saying: "A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." And I believe whole-heartedly in reading. I read at least one book a week.

More importantly, I believe this quote can be modified to reflect the importance of economic responsibility: "A person who won't save has no advantage over one who can't save."

Think about it. Just a reading enlarges your knowledge, and gives you more perspective on life, saving enlarges your options and gives you more ability to handle what life brings. Why don't people save more? Maybe it's the same reasons why they don't read more: it takes a bit of discipline, effort, focus, and life style.

And, just like I can't make someone want to read, once someone does, they can quickly see the value in the activity, and develop a desire to read. Same with economic responsibility.

We have to start somewhere. What do you spend money on that is just discretionary? It's the small things that start a habit. Going back to reading. How do I find time? I keep a book in my car. With traffic here in Northern Virginia, I always leave early in case there's a tie up. When there's not, and I get to my appointment early, I will read--in the car, in the office I'm going to, find a Starbucks close by. Fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there adds up after a while.

Same with savings. What little pieces of discretionary spending can you refocus to savings? That drink you buy every time you fill up? The afternoon snack you get in the vending machine? The drink you stop in for after work? When you start seeing your focus start paying off, it creates a desire for more.

The point is this: some people can't save. They may be disabled, intellectually limited, or so burdened by the financial responsibility for others that savings isn't an option. It's hard and desperate. For you and I, it's a matter willingness. To rephrase Mark Twain one more time: "A person who won't save has no advantage over one who can't save."