My step father was a hard worker. As a child I helped him do a lot of work around the house, including building a screened back porch, roofing the house, installing a fireplace and raising the floor of our family room (don’t ask). Whenever I got tired or frustrated along the way, I had the habit of saying I couldn’t do whatever he asked me to do. His response was always the same–“Can’t never did anything.” That always annoyed me, to be honest, but it was a good lesson I never forgot. The “can’t never did anything” philosophy reminds me of Rocky Balboa, a fighter who never gave up. Check out this motivating clip from the movie Rocky (1976), and then we’ll apply the “Can’t never did anything” philosophy to personal finance.
Do you ever feel like giving up? I know at times I’ve felt like giving up. Maintaining control of our finances is not easy. We have to contend with unexpected expenses like medical bills or car repairs. Some have had to deal with the loss of a job or a failing business. At the extreme, some have gone through bankruptcy and home foreclosure. And some times its just the “small” things that make us want to give up, like overdrawing our checking account by a few bucks. So how do you stay motivated day in and day out? I think you stay motivated just like Rocky Balboa did–
Have clearly defined goals: Rocky knew exactly what he was working towards. If you have not set financial goals for yourself, it should be the next thing that you do. Perhaps your goal is to pay off all your credit card debt or to max out your 401(k). Your goal might simply be to save $100 a month or to build an emergency fund of 3 months worth of expenses. Goals give you something to work toward and put structure around the daily activities you undertake related to money.
Don’t go it alone: Rocky had a team of trainers supporting and encouraging him. He never would have accomplished what he did without them. Having others support us in financial matters is just as important. For some, our team will consist of paid financial professionals who help us plan and make decisions. For others, like me, my team of professionals come from the books I read. I don’t hire somebody to handle my investments, but I’ve learned everything I need to know from books. Actually, last year I did hire a tax accountant to do my taxes, and it was a big mistake (perhaps more about that later).
Make it a family affair: Rocky drew great strength and will from his wife, Adrian (I can hear him calling her name even now). I recognize that we all don’t have this luxury, but reaching financial goals is so much easier if our significant other is on the same page as we are. My wife and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on finances, but we have most of the time. For more on this, check out these two articles: My Best and Worst Financial Decisions and How to Fight With Your Spouse About Money.
Work smart AND hard: I’ve come to really despise the saying, “work smart not hard.” What ever happened to the value of hard work? I’m not talking about spending 80 hours a week in the office. I’m not even talking about just working at our job. Hard work builds character and gives meaning and value to our lives. So work smart AND hard.
Believe in Yourself: Rocky believed in himself. He wasn’t arrogant or cocky, but he believed he was good enough to fight with the best. It’s important that we believe in ourselves, too. We need to stop saying that we “can’t” do this or we “can’t” do that. As much as I hated hearing this as a kid, they are words to live by–“Can’t never did anything.”