Reading This Article Won’t Make You Rich

UFPJ 'Take Action: Topple the Pillars of War and Empire!' Posters (Takoma Park, DC) by takomabibelot on Flickr!I’ve read (literally) thousands of personal finance articles that say just the opposite of the title of this one. They all offer some great path to being rich, one that they claim is foolproof and that anyone can do. They brag about the huge rates of return and the magnificent success they’ve had with the plan.

And then, with just a mouse click or a page flip, you’re on to the next one. Another plan, another article, another day, another dollar.

But here’s the truth of the matter: none of those articles mean anything at all if you’re not taking action in your own life.

You can be extremely well-versed in managing your own money, but if you’re still spending more than you earn, it means nothing.

You can know the ins and outs of investing wisely, but if you’re still spending that money on unnecessary stuff, it means nothing.

You can read all about various ways of starting your own business, but if you go home at night and watch three hours of television instead, it means nothing.

Reading this article won’t make you rich. Nor will reading any other article. If you want to improve your financial situation, there’s only one way to do it. Take action.

Improve your standing at your current job – or search for a better one. If you’re reading this article at work, finish the article, close the window, and spend the next hour or two really polishing up the project you’re working on. Put some real pride into it. Make that presentation shine. Add a lot of comments to your code so others can know what you did. Go through that correspondence that you keep putting off. Shoot some emails to the people you met at that conference last month. Polish up your resume. And when you go home tonight, feel good about having done it.

Do some “one time” money saving improvements at home. Tonight, instead of crashing after work, do some things that will gradually save you money over time. Air up the tires in your car. Install some new light bulbs. Put in a programmable thermostat. Put your home entertainment center on a SmartStrip. Air seal your home. Then, figure up how much you’ll save each month from your small changes ($20-30 or so) and set up an automatic savings plan to sock away that much for a rainy day.

Do some of the things you’ve been putting off. Assemble that will. Shop around for better car and homeowners’ or renter’s insurance. Update your 401(k) contributions – or sign up for it if you haven’t done it. Take advantage of open enrollment and get a better health insurance plan. Turn in receipts for your flexible spending account.

Get educated. Learn more about financial topics that interest you, for starters. Don’t just dream about going back to school – look into evening classes and see how you can go about it. Take the tests you need to go back to school. Figure out your talents and where they intersect with your passions, and chase that vision as hard as you can.

If you take away nothing else from this article, take these two words: take action. Reading and learning is fine, but if you don’t step up to the plate and make an actual change, all the reading in the world about turning your financial life around won’t make a difference.

Take action.

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