Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Fastest Way To Get Someplace is The Way You Know How To Go

Interesting statement isn't it?  For my trip in the UK I bought and downloaded a map of the UK for my GPS (or Sat Nav).  I was doing some traveling with friends who don't drive much and are, by their own admission, directionally challenged.  I decided since I was doing most of the driving, I would invest in a UK map. It was worth the money spent.  We sat at the local pub at lunch before we departed, inputting the directions to the GPS, then reading the map summary and comparing it to our notes. The Sat Nav took us one way, the hand written directions from someone's husband took us another, both took us to the same place.  Someone at the pub looked over at our Sat Nav and said The fastest way to get someplace is the way you know how.    

Sheer genius. Really sheer genius folks.  Think about it.  In the personal finance world, we have the Dave Ramsey way of debt reduction, we have the gospel according to Suze Orman, we have the John Cummata way to wealth, we have a multitude of ways that all proclaim follow my advice and you too shall be debt free.  

 There are people who swear by  the Dave Ramsey system, there are people who swear AT  the Dave Ramsey system.  Personal finance is just that, personal.  What works for Dave Ramsey may not work for  you.  I've been reading a number of blogs where people are confused about the "best" way to purse debt reduction.  Snowflake or not to Snowflake? That is the question! Never using a credit card or limited use of a credit card? Cash only for everything, or loan shopping? I  don't think any system is the "best" system unless you are comfortable with it.  Suze and Dave may not be the best way for you to get out of your debt if you not comfortable with their systems or approaches. You may even have to make up  your own system! If you are comfortable with a system or an approach, I guarentee you will make substantial progress towards your financial goals.  If you are not comfortable with an approach or system, you will hit roadblocks as you work towards your financial goals. 

I do think people need to establish an emergency fund and work up towards the magical 3-6 months worth of living expenses as a cushion.  I do think people need to cut back on the use of credit, make some radical changes in their spending habits if they have substantial debt and want to pay it down or off. I do think that people need to spend their money wisely.  I also think that all work and no play does make Jack or Jill a dull child.  I think that people need to find something to do that gives them joy, even if it costs a little cash- a hobby, or pay for that gym membership, have that latte twice a week on your way to work,  or go to that weekly movie with your best buddy.  If it gives you joy, it can make the whole process more palatable. 

As I read a number of PF blogs, I see a pattern.  There are those bloggers who complain about the lack of debt reduction progress, but continue to do things like clothes shopping, entertaining, travel, and go out with friends. In one sentence they complain about their VISA balance, in the next sentence they state that "They must go out with friends" (and I'm not talking about a Personal Obligation here) . I read about PF bloggers following a "system" and getting burnt out and frustrated by a system because it does not seem to "fit" that person or their family, debt reduction yes, happiness in one life-no.   There are also those bloggers who do "have a life" but don't make apologies or complain that trying to have a balanced life has prolonged or increased their debt reduction progress.  The latter are the PF bloggers who have found that happy medium between spending, saving and debt reduction, in other words, their quality of life is pretty good!   It may take them a bit longer to get to that debt free place, but they are working towards a balanced life. 

Part of my journey from bankruptcy is finding that space that allows me to have a life and achieve my personal and financial goals. I did a lot of research this past year to see if there was a wonderful way to "bounce back from bankruptcy" and achieve my goals. I would be happy to share it with all of you, I really would.  What I have found out is that there is no wonderful pre packaged way to bounce back.  I'm finding ways to bounce back, but what works for me may not work for you.  I can only share what I do to help me achieve my goals. I also believe that if you are in debt reduction you have to find what works best for you out of the various "systems' and plans available and that into your life. You have to decide what place you want to get to. 

The fastest way to get to that place is the way you know how to go.

Good luck on your journey. 


Debtfree2009 said...

Great post. I completely agree.

Dawn said...

Wow. Great post! I couldn't agree more. Sometimes I read what other people are doing and think, "that would never work with me." Yet at the same time, I know my crazy system won't work for others. I like your analogy with the directions - look at the different options, then go with the one that makes the most sense to you. Thanks for sharing this!

Carrie Schmeck said...

Excellent thoughts. We, especially those burned by debt, can swing so far to the no-debt side that we become as bound by our non-spending as we were in free spending. We must each find a balance and resist judging others in how they choose to find their own balance and joy.

Fabulously Broke said...

That was a really solid post.

You do whatever works for you.. is also my motto.

For me, it was being super scrimpy when I had debt, and learning moderation as I got out of it. *shrug* Works for me now.