I just finished reading a magnificent book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I highly recommend it. The idea of the book is simple. Do something small every day that will make you better off in the long run. For instance, if you decide to go to the gym today, you probably won’t have a six pack afterwards. At the same time, you most likely won’t have a heart attack today if you don’t go. But if you start working out, even if it is just 15 minutes a day, eventually you will be a lot stronger and healthier than you are today. Let’s take that concept and apply it to our finances.
You have all heard the example, “Just cut out that $5 daily latte and you will be set financially.” Is that true? Well…kind of. Let’s say you are one of those Starbucks addicts that stops by on the way to work every day and spends $5. You would save almost $2,000 over the course of a year by cutting out Starbucks. Of course, if you are anything like me, you would probably be arrested for assault before too long… but you get the point. Look at your lifestyle and find something little that you could cut out to save $20 or $30 a week. Start adding that to your savings instead.
Let’s try another example that would be even easier. Log onto your 401k at work and increase your contribution by 1%. If you don’t have a 401k, open an IRA and set up direct deposit of 1% to come out of your paycheck. I don’t want to hear the excuse that you can’t afford to contribute an extra 1%. If you make $40,000 a year, 1% is only $400 spread out over a year. You can handle it. Each year, increase your percentage by another percent. I promise that you will retire with dignity if you stick to this plan throughout your career.
These are just a couple examples but I challenge you to find your own financial “slight edge” for 2017. Do it now! Make it the one New Year’s Resolution that you won’t break by January 31st. Think of one small change that you can make in your life that won’t affect you right now, but it will set you up for long term success. You can do it! There is nothing stopping you from starting your path to financial freedom.
Happy New Year!
Mike Zeiter, CPA/PFS