Financial Foundations: Part 10 - Learning

This is the final of ten posts describing the key pillars of building a strong financial foundation. Read the introduction here.

Continuous education is an important piece of becoming an expert in anything and personal finance is no different. By reading and learning about different topics as you progress in your financial journey you will focus on what is important to your current situation. Spending time to keep learning about how you can manage your money is the mortar that can hold together the other 9 pieces of the foundation we discussed.

Just in Time Learning

When you are first learning about a topic you can be overwhelmed by information. This may cause you to give up before you even get started. By limiting the amount of information that you process and spending more time on taking action you will see better results.

When someone recommends a great book to you about investment strategies and you are still trying to learn to stick to a budget, write down the name and file it for later. If you find a great article online about how to refinance your mortgage but you haven’t even bought a house yet, save it as a bookmark and use the time you would have spent reading it doing something productive.

You should put all of your energy and attention into the one or two areas of your finances that you are trying to improve. When you get to the next step of financial independence you can go read all the resources that you found earlier. Using this tactic you might find that you suddenly have more time for action because you are spending less time planning.

Why is Talking about Money So Taboo?

Many people will discuss personal matters such as love, sex or who knows what else with other people without thinking twice, but baulk at the idea of discussing their credit card debt or mortgage payments. I believe that personal finances shouldn’t always be so personal. If you are having a hard time financially there is nothing wrong with asking other people for guidance on your situation.

The reason that you would do this though is not just to broadcast to other people the intimate details of your life, but to open the doors for them to give you some much needed advice or for you to teach them something. By being open to discuss finances with other friends, family members or couples your relationships can strengthen. Both parties might also learn a few money saving tips along the way.

Resources I Used

In my financial journey I read a lot of books and blogs to understand the principles of personal finance and lay the framework for being financially secure. Without the resources that I am listing next I would not be where I am today. They taught me how to save, invest and spend money wisely.

I used to check out five personal finance books at a time from the library. I would also go back and read every article in a blogs’ archives and look forward to any new series they would start. I read the comments and could sense the pain in some of the people that wrote them. I vowed to change how I would manage my money and have never looked back.

There are a lot of resources out there in the personal finance niche written by fantastic people that are trying to help others. I would recommend that you find a website that has a voice that aligns with your belief system and also challenge yourself by reading ones that don’t. I’m just going to give you the one book and two blogs that changed my life the most. I have read close to 50 personal finance books in the past three years and at one point I followed 20+ personal finance blogs via RSS.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

I won’t write a lot about this book here because I already wrote a detailed description and some book thoughts on it. In short, this book changed how I viewed money and how I treat it. Plus, it is so inexpensive that it has more than paid for itself with the lessons it taught me. I am better off by thousands of dollars because I read Your Money or Your Life.

The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm

This blog is the first one I came across and I don’t even remember how I found it the first time. I do know that on my first visit I read his Financial Armageddon series and immediately knew I wanted to learn more about personal finance so I would never end up in that situation.

The amazing part of his story is how he has turned his financial life around, writes full-time for The Simple Dollar and even published a book that I wrote some thoughts on. He writes about everything from being frugal eating the cheapest, healthiest meals possible to philosophical discussions on allowances for children. While every article might not be for you, dig through his archives to find what can help you with where you are at currently.

Get Rich Slowly by J.D. Roth

Having started around the same time as The Simple Dollar, J.D. also has a thriving community alongside his writing and has developed into one of the most prolific personal finance sites there is. What’s especially unique about GRS is how many personal stories have been posted on the site.

There are a lot of guest posts published to the site and every one of them tells a story about someone else that either has or is struggling financially. These kinds of stories helped give me the motivation to create a budget, stick to it and pay off my debt. The archives of Get Rich Slowly are filled with great resources for anyone on their road to financial independence.

Wherever you are on your journey financially, find somewhere to learn about money in a way that you haven’t before. By continuing to learn more about finances you can grow your net worth, get out of debt and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

I only listed a few resources here, but I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Financial Foundations Series