Once in a while, something clever comes out of just about everybody’s mouth. Even mine.
A few weeks ago, I was driving my daughter somewhere when the subject of money came up. As most seven-year-olds are, she is eager to please (most of the time), and she knows that I spend a lot of time reading and learning about money and investments. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went up to that point, but she said, with all the gravity she could muster, “We have to learn about money because it’s so important.”
Without thinking, I answered with what I think was some pretty good fatherly advice: “The reason we have to learn about money is because it is so unimportant.”
“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Turns out, Yogi Berra might have been a half-decent financial planner.
I am by nature a goal-oriented person. Once I know where I’m going, I make a plan and work towards it, with what I think is probably an above-average level of focus. While this means that I disapear from my friends’ (and somtimes even family’s) view for weeks or months at a time, once I’ve got a goal in mind, I focus a lot of energy attaining that goal. This approach generally works quite well for me.
And yet it occurred to me several months ago that I had no specific goals for my finances. I hope to retire some day, I hope to pay off my house some day, and I hope to be able to pay for life’s little surprises, (like a new water heater this past winter) without having to go into debt to do it. While those are all good goals, they are far from specific. Also, I had no specific order in which I was trying to achieve these goals; house first, or large passive income first? What about simultaneously? I have come to realize in the past year or so that because I didn’t know exactly where I was going, I was having trouble getting there.