“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” -Wayne Gretzky
That quote by arguably the greatest hockey player of all time is a lesson for anyone with a significant goal in front of them. What it means for savers and investors is this – Start Somewhere. This is how you become financially free. You won’t become financially free all at one time. I’ve taken many shots over my lifetime, sometimes reaching my goal, sometimes not. But the great thing is, it’s easy to take another shot. Even those with excess wealth need to form smart financial habits (lest they want to lose it), and they do it just like everyone else, one day, week, or year at a time. After a while, those repetitive activities become good habits. Like I say when I coach sales people, activities drive results. As a saver, you need to get those positive saving activities started, and the results will follow. Take the shot.
You probably know some bad habits you need to stop (did I hear you say “credit card”), or an area where you know you need to start doing something. Change is hard. Delayed gratification is hard (Watch the Marshmallow Experiment for proof). Good habits are hard to form, and bad habits are hard to get rid of, but if you commit to it and change you’re environment, you’ll make the good habits stick and the bad habits go away. I like to write my commitments down, and tell my wife, because she enjoys reminding me when I’m screwing up (all because she loves me so much :). I also use technology. Got an iPhone? Set a regular reminder to pop up on pay-day to fund your savings account. There are plenty of tools and means to form good habits, just give it a shot.
From a personal standpoint, when our son was born 18 years ago, my wife and I decided that paying for our son’s college education was important to us and we opened a 529 College Savings account for him the month he was born. We saved $100 per paycheck in his account, even when it was hard. It wasn’t always the same amount. There were times when we had to scale it back, there were times when we were able to ramp it up, and there were times when we were able to drop larger sums in there all at once (thanks grandparents), but we always made a contribution to the account. We could have done something else with the money, but we stuck with it. We never wavered from our routine, and when our son graduated from high school last year, we knew he could go to college without him or us incurring a large amouts of debt. Saving for his college costs was a financial habit we began 19 years ago and stuck with it.
Why delay? Start one good financial habit today, or dispatch with a bad habit, and take it one day at a time. Eventually you’ll get the result want, but you need to take a shot.