About four or five times a week, a reader will send me a very extensive explanation of what they’re doing financially and simply ask me if I think it’s okay – and virtually every time, it’s just fine. Even though some of the themes are repetitious, I actually quite like these emails, as it shows there are a lot of people out there making good, strong financial choices.
What I find interesting is what all these emails have in common: a general sense of “I think I’m doing this right, but I’m not sure.” I have this same exact feeling as well, quite often, when it comes to my financial planning.
Why is this sense of unease so universal? If I feel it and a fair number of my readers feel it, there must be something to it. I think there is a pretty deep fundamental concern for “getting it right” among people who are getting their financial house in order.
For me, I made some big financial miscues earlier in my life. These miscues taught me one key thing: I certainly don’t have all the answers when it comes to money, and because of that, I’m often concerned I’m not following the right path.
However, there are at least three big factors that make me feel better about this.
First, no one has all the answers when it comes to money. There are a lot of financial gurus out there, as well as some great financial role models. Guess what? None of them have all the answers. The best thing you can do is learn, synthesize, and figure out what’s right for you.
Second, there’s only one absolute truth in all of the information. Spend less than you earn. Everything else from personal finance stems from that. Frugality? That’s all about spending less. Career building and entrepreneurship? Earning more. Investing? Earning more (and a bit of spending less, too). If you constantly use that rule of thumb as your guide, you’ll do just fine.
Finally, we’re not alone in this struggle. I often look at others and think, “They really have their head on straight.” Meanwhile, others look at me and think the same thing. What does that all add up to? We’re all in this together, making little mistakes, but largely following a strong financial path.
If you’re sitting there worried about your financial plan, you really only need to ask yourself a few things. Are you spending less than you earn? Are you actively looking for ways to spend less and earn more, and practicing some of them? Are you protecting yourself against a big increase in spending or a big drop in earnings in the future? If you’re doing these things, rest assured – you’re in pretty good shape.