Monday, April 7, 2008

Worry and Tuition

I'm working from home this afternoon. This usually entails me on our couch typing reports with the TV on. The dvr'ed* show I was watching ended and all of a sudden I was listening to Dr. Phil. The remote went into hiding so I just started listening.

While he's not my favorite he said two things that I think is a key to overcoming financial issues. The couple in question spent a $100K inheritance in one year (including 5 cars and a picture book nursery) and are now largely in debt, living paycheck to paycheck. After some back and forth the husband kept repeating that he's just so worried about the money. Dr. Phil said that worry is useless. Instead the couple needs to sit down, possibly with their kids,** and create a plan. I would say that worry is a good starting point for the action. For me this is because realizing a problem usually precipitates worrying.

Then Dr. Phil brought up a new way of thinking about financial mistakes. Instead of dwelling on your money mistakes look at them as tuition for your financial education. Take what you learned from the negative experience and learn how to overcome it. This analogy can be stretched a bit further. We all paid different amounts to attain our levels of education. What we take away from schooling is all dependent on each person. The time spent studying, the connections made, and the courses we chose are just a few of the ways we each impacted our educational take away. In personal finance the same holds true. How much time we devote to learning about ways to save,*** connecting with others who share similar goals, and what we specifically learn about will shape our success at reaching our goals.


*I know this isn't a real word but what else works? I guess I could say recorded, but it's not quite the same.
**Which brings up an interesting question posed at Gather Little By Little.
***by both reducing spending and increasing the high interest piggy bank

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