Where are you on your journey to FI? If you haven’t started yet, get moving towards something! Marathons start with that first step. FI is very similar. It starts by doing one step. Then continue taking steps to get you closer to the finish line or further down the path. Just keep stepping towards the goal. Marathons and FI can’t be done in one step either. Only through consistent steps along the path will you ever get to your goals.
So, if you have already started that’s great! You can’t finish what you don’t start. But if you haven’t started, get going! Even if you are unsure of exactly what steps you need to take, take a step. It could be paying off debt. It could be starting a savings account. Maybe start an IRA or a Roth IRA. Maybe it’s enrolling in your company’s 401k, 403b, or Thrift Savings Plan. Just take a step.
Don’t wait until you understand every aspect of personal finance before you begin. Some people can or will try to analyze every aspect so hard that they never start. They may be afraid to make a mistake. That’s the “paralysis by analysis” often referred to from time to time. Don’t let that become a road block towards starting. Someone who starts with sound basics such as the big rocks mentioned in other posts here will be just fine. Suppose only 80% of the goals are met. That’s still way better than sitting at the starting gate!
Once you are stepping, keep on keeping on! Every month try to do what you did last month as the minimum. Take another step. Keep on stepping. Maybe automate an extra car payment. Maybe automate an amount to go into that savings account, IRA or 401K. Keep on adding to what you did last month.
Another good pattern to get into is to increase your savings a little at a time. For example increase maybe 1% contribution to your saving each month or quarter. Maybe put 50% of a raise, bonus, or tax refund into savings instead of spending it. Increases like these will also help you get a bump in progress. Every little step helps and adds up over time.
You should also learn more detail about each of the areas of your personal finances. Read an article or two a week to gain more knowledge. Maybe read a financial blog or listen to a podcast. Perhaps you go to the library and check out a book. If you are not a member of the local library, you should become one. It’s a great source for resources. If you don’t like reading, check out an audio book!
In a year’s time, the results can be surprising. Say the goal was to increase savings 1% per month. It was a tough month so only eight 1% increases were possible throughout the year. That’s still 8% more than in the beginning of the year. Maybe a goal was two articles about finances per week was the goal. Again, the year was tough and only one per week was able to be completed. That’s 52 articles read in the year! Not too shabby.
The point of the post is to start doing something to get to a better financial position. Once started, continue to get more knowledgeable and increase forward progress. After a period of time, through small steps the progress made will be significant.
Take that first step, that next step, or that higher step. Just get going an keep on keeping on!