10 Things Learned About Life And Personal Finance

You blog for 3 years about money, life, and personal finance, all of which are interconnected, and you pick up a few things. Trent from The Simple Dollar shares the 10 most important lessons he’s learned since starting his personal finance blog. For starters, number 10, while it’s easy to get caught up in trying to save one more nickel off every purchase, “Reliability and functionality worth a premium”!

9. There are very few aspects of your life that cannot be changed.
8. Karma always comes around.
7. The more time you spend improving and educating yourself, the better your personal and financial life will be.
6. Blaming others for your problems is a dead-end road.
5. The fewer unsupportive people you have in your life, the better off you are.
4. The more supportive people you have in your life, the better off you are.
3. The most valuable resource in the world isn’t money, it’s time.
2. The second most important part of personal finance is setting clear, concrete goals.
1. The single most important part of personal finance is truly knowing yourself.

Pretty meta, but once you think about it, it’s our choices and behaviors and lifestyle that have the biggest impact on our bank account, rather than getting the one with the best APR or being the super-best at using online coupons.

Do you agree with this list? Is there anything you would add or take away?

The Ten Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Money and Life Since Starting The Simple Dollar [The Simple Dollar] (Photo: sawyer87)

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  1. Pickled_Herring says:

    Number 8 is DEFINITELY one of the most important to me right now. I’ve almost become a victim to the economy but because of my maintaining good relationships in the workplace they’ve instead found me a position in another group versus giving me severance. Amen to that and to number 4 as well.

  2. Donathius says:

    How about adding lesson number 10 the list?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @Donathius: I thought the point of leaving it out would have been if it was akin to “be happy with what you have.”

  3. microcars says:

    Don’t count your chickens before they have hatched
    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    “It’s no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, ‘Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’ By then, pigs will be your style.”

  4. hotdogsunrise says:

    With the cost of education as high as it is, number seven isn’t always right. More education is not always the answer. Carrying thousands of dollars of debt is not always going to get you a better job.

    • bornonbord says:

      @hotdogsunrise: As Pecan states, Education doesn’t necessarily mean college.

      The line-item itself states “improve and educate”. Get good at something. Master something.
      [zenhabits.net]

      Heck, you’re already doing pretty good coming to this blog and educating yourself about consumer issues!

      • hotdogsunrise says:

        @bornonbord: I agree. I guess what I was really saying is a traditional education is not always the answer.

        As a whole, unless our college education system changes, we need to stop looking at college as a way into the working world. There are many other ways to become a successful adult. It’s too expensive to go to college and only get a minimum wage job.

        • Buckus says:

          @hotdogsunrise: What you’re really saying is that if you go to a traditional college, make sure you pick a degree worth a damn. Your political science/liberal arts degree might be what you were interested in, but by and large business degrees and engineering degrees are almost guaranteed payola once you graduate.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            @Buckus: Ugh, not this again. I have a liberal arts degree, and I’m doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

            • hotdogsunrise says:

              @pecan 3.14159265: And I’m sure there are many out there the same as you. But it’s not helping anyone to tell all the kids in high school that college is the only way to go. For some, it’s only a waste of money. There are other forms of education that can get you a great job. It’s not limited through college.

        • themope says:

          Then again, Community Colleges and State Universities aren’t that expensive. Unless of course you live on campus far from home. I managed to graduate from a junior college and state college in my town by taking night classes and working during the day. It wasn’t very expensive at all. And although I’m far from rich, it has helped me get a better paying job than I had before I went to college.

    • dee1313 says:

      @hotdogsunrise:

      A good example would be learning how to change the oil on your car yourself or learning how to sew so you can hem your pants yourself (which is something I need to do since I’m so short even if I puchase pants in the girls section they’re still too long). Simple tasks that many can do by themselves but still pay to have someone else do it.

      Oh, another good one that is a little bit harder is learning more about things. When you are purchasing a computer, for instance, its best to already know about what hardware you need instead of relying on the sales person to tell you.

  5. Tim says:

    My karma ran over your dogma.

  6. umbriago says:

    To expand on point five a bit, I’ve found that not wallowing around in negativity had just had so much day-to-day effect on my outlook it’s unreal. There’s a certain amount of negativity in life, sure: why seek it out? and I’m looking at you, Internet. It’s just filled with nasty, bitterly toxic people making caustic comments about darn near everything. You wouldn’t hang around people like that in real life…why do it online?

    Note to Consumerist commenters: you guys are all thumbs up, pretty much, and funny as hell.

    But this is a lot better than the Get a high-earning degree from a good school guy.

  7. jdmba says:

    Disagree with # 3, at least as a universal concept.

    I do not think it is universally believed that a long long life of poverty is superior to a shorter life of wealth. In fact, one of those sounds like pure hell.

    At best, time and money are equal partners.

  8. km9v says:

    Do not spend more than you make.

  9. frank64 says:

    That goes hand in hand with don’t blaming others. So many have blamed the credit card companies with getting them in the mess by raising rates and cutting credit. But they have been doing it to a degree for years. The real problems is we got ourselves to a point where it hurt us.

  10. Weakly says:

    Can we replace vague, feel-good tips of karmic retribution and self-improvement with some, well, useful advice?

    • Datacloud says:

      @Weakly: Word. I think he stole that list from Deepak Chopra.

      #11. Be nice.
      #12. Smile a lot.
      #13. Love thy neighbor.
      #14. You get what you pay for and other cliches.

  11. JLP at AllFinancialMatters says:

    “1. The single most important part of personal finance is truly knowing yourself.”

    What the hell does that even mean?

  12. bishophicks says:

    “When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles – scream and shout.”

  13. miburo says:

    3. The most valuable resource in the world isn’t money, it’s time.

    The older you get the more apparent this becomes.

  14. amberlink says:

    @Donathius:

    LOL, I wondered the same thing.

  15. izzy9985 says:

    @floraposte: I agree that plenty of good deeds go unrewarded, and some seemingly dastardly deeds go unpunished.

    But I wouldn’t dismiss the thought entirely. Consider the idea that strangers have “six degrees of separation” between them. And the fact that people’s moods can affect those around them.

    It’s not so crazy to think that if I do something awful to a friend, then he goes and does the same to someone else because he’s angry, and then that friend does the same….that seemingly unpunished deed could (possibly) come back to you (you just might not know in what form). For example, lack of a recommendation for a job, or lack of an invite to a beneficial event. In other words, the “evil” deed don’t have to come back to you as an “evil” deed – it can come back in the form of something that prevents your success.

  16. floraposte says:

    @izzy9985: Sure, it could. But saying it does it as a rule? That’s more wishful thinking than anything else.

  17. admiral_stabbin says:

    @humphrmi: Don’t rock out with your cock out.

  18. Coelacanth says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): The liberal arts degrees can be quite useful if you’re using it as a springboard for graduate school.

    Business, law, and clinical psychology can be quite lucrative, and many have made successful transitions to these fields without a science, engineering, or business background.

  19. lpranal says:

    @floraposte: reminds me of one of my favorite stephen crane quotes -

    “A man said to the universe: ‘Sir, I exist!’ ‘However,’ replied the universe. ‘The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.'”

    The universe works exactly the way it does. In some sense, saying that karma is not a rule is foolish; by definition karma is merely what happens. Then again, choosing to define it kind of invalidates it also.

    In summary, this whole comment is basically just one big “if by whiskey” argument.