The One Factor That Matters

Each and every day here on The Simple Dollar, I write about personal finance tactics (or information somehow related to that general idea). I talk about my own experiences. I share information that I’ve discovered. I review books. I answer questions from readers about their finances.

All of these articles are worthwhile reads (well, at least I think they are). They all seek to share some tactic or set of tactics that can help you get your finances on the right path.

All of the tactics in the world, however, don’t matter at all if you don’t add to them the one factor that really matters.

You have to get up and do something.

Reading about financial success won’t make you a financial success. It might explain some ways to do it and give you some good ideas, but it won’t happen unless you actually do something.

It is much easier to talk a big game without actually changing anything. It is much easier to just find something minor to criticize. It is much easier to think, “That’s a great idea,” then quickly click onto another web page or email. These things merely let you avoid actually having to take action.

The only way you’ll ever bring about real change in your life is if you actually do something.

Cancel your cable bill. Make a meal at home. Negotiate with your credit card issuer over interest rates. Open up your child’s 529 account. Start actually writing that novel or making those videos you’ve been talking about. Take a class. Air-seal your home. Sign up for an activity with your city’s parks and recreation department. Open up that 401(k) account.

Success is all about taking action. Reading ideas is useful, but it only gives you a good framework for the action. Taking that action is up to you.

What are you going to do today to put yourself in a better place?

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  1. Getting started is definitely the hardest part. I think that is why a lot of people succeed when they tackle the small wins first (smallest debt balances etc.).
    Getting a couple of “wins” under your belt really helps to build momentum. That momentum will drag you through the hardest part of forming your new habit(s). Once a habit is formed, the tasks become easier and the rewards/incentives are greater.

  2. krantcents says:

    The definition of success is completing something! In order to complete it, you have to start it.

    I am having dinner with a friend! Maintaining social connections are important to yur well being.

  3. Josh says:

    Very true, and I think this goes for almost everything in life, especially when it comes to your health and fitness as well.

  4. Kathryn C says:

    Agreed Tyler. It’s all about the small wins!

  5. MoneyNing says:

    I’m at a point in life where success is CONTINUING to do something :)

    Whether it’s saving a majority of my income, not let lifestyle inflation creep in, or keep pushing forward in my business so I don’t let complacency destroy what I’ve built, it’s all about simulating a fire under my bud so I keep running!

  6. Lynn says:

    Trent, this post is exactly why I read your blog first thing in the morning. Truthful and straight to the point.

  7. Julia says:

    Don’t entirely agree with this. 99%, yes. But there is a small factor where this isn’t really true.

    I was reading TSD for a few months before I did anything. But in that time, something changed. I was much more aware of my purchases. This is where daily blogs have books beat.

    Every day I read an article about personal finance. Every day I was tempted to purchase something. And every time I thought about purchasing something I thought about the stuff I was reading in those articles. This led to more mindful purchases, more questions about how I spend money and whether each expenditure is worth it.

    This was a very small change that built up and eventually led to me being ready to take more proactive steps. But this little change in itself only required that I consiously read and consider what I was reading as it applied to my life.

    Other than that, you’re dead on!

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