Welcome to Managing the Price of Life, a book dedicated to providing you with information and tactics to aid with managing your finances. Since this book is free, there will not be any sugar coating, it will be brusque and direct.
Originally, the idea was to layout the book in chapters but that idea was scrapped because most people are more interested in getting help with topics, so the book is topic oriented. More topics will be added as they are developed and written, and, if you want some information on a specific topic, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complete book is not ready at this time, so keep checking back to see what topics are added. Let’s start with the difference between ‘managing your finances’ and ‘protecting your financial information’. Each person has a need to protect their financial information while, at the same time, managing the finances, it sounds like a lot of work, but most of it is just being smart.
This is the introduction section, to give you an idea of how information and concepts will be presented. At the same time, when it is deemed appropriate, there will be comments about responsibility.
Sorry, but there is no way to guarantee your success. Even if you were to read every page and follow every rule and idea, success is not assured. Here is a political statement, contrary to the claims of the Democrats or the socialists, success cannot be bought, paid for or planned. Success is earned but it can't be given to you by someone else. This book is intended to help you avoid making the standard set of mistakes in handling your finances but mistakes can be made by everyone. You need to start thinking and asking yourself if this makes sense in the long term.
Success is the primary result of hard work and dedication along with the application of capitalism. Success is not the result of everyone getting the same trophy just for showing up, success is not the result of everyone getting the same as in socialism.
Let’s start with something simple, anyone can be stupid, that is not hard, but it is difficult to think. Thinking means looking beyond the moment and glitter and seeing the reality. The bottom line truth is one of the simple truths that will never change: Life is made up of decisions and decisions have consequences. Let’s start with something simple, if you wanted, you could drink a case of beer every day, but consider the consequences. First, dead brain cells. Second, probably weight gain. Third, constantly intoxicated so driving and working will become more difficult. Fourth, probably the potential for accidents. You have probably figured out the trend. The question that should be considered is whether any self administered medication can create the same pattern, bear in mind, you can't see it because you have no point of reference.
The idea is that life is made up of decisions and there is a consequence, either expected or unexpected, to every decision. Under concept of ‘chaos theory’, even the smallest change may have unexpected and unforeseen impacts and changes on the future. The point of this discussion is that it is your responsibility to make the best possible decisions by minimizing the potential outcomes from the consequences. Yes, you are thinking that since you have no control over the ‘chaos theory’ then why worry, but that is ignorant. You can’t control chaos, but you can reduce the possible outcomes, an example may help. Assume you have been drinking, do you drive yourself or take a taxi? This is a no brainer. If you are caught driving under the influence, your life is changed because of the DUI charges. If you are involved in an accident, you will be responsible for the damage and if someone is hurt, disabled or killed, you are at fault. The conclusion is simple, make decisions that give you the best possible chance to get the result you want from the chaos of life.
Thinking is two-fold: first, think outside of the box, you are the only person that can protect your interests. Second, think about what is not being told to you. This one is my favorite because so many people and information is intended to lead you to a conclusion without providing you all of the information you need. The best example are TV commercials, what are they not telling. One of my favorites is the person that had their new van T-Boned by a garbage truck and they are complaining about their insurance coverage. If you know anything about insurance, then you would know that if someone hits you, your insurance has no impact on the outcome because you are not responsible, so the entire conclusion is a lie. Or the person that totaled their brand new car and the insurance won’t cover the cost of a new car and the agent said they bought the wrong insurance, which is correct but that is not the conclusion they want you to make.
Like everything else, your decision about what insurance coverage to buy will determine what is covered if you are ever in an accident. It has nothing to do with what is in the policy because you made the decision about what coverage to buy. Yes, there is a topic on insurance and this is a complicated topic.
The format of the book is to present information and give some ideas of how this information may impact your life and your finances. This comment was made intentionally, your finances are the issue because everything in life is connected to money, having and spending it.
Finances are very simple when viewed from the bird’s eye because the devil is in the details. While it would be perfect to track every penny, that is silly but the information that could be provided would be useful but reducing the detail a little may no impact the quality of the information much. Once again, an example would be useful: if you give yourself an allowance every week and you have defined exactly what is included in that allowance then it is a waste of time to track how the allowance is spent unless the allowance is too big or too small. There is enough work involved in managing finances without being excessive and, often, the issue is failing to grasp the bigger issues of priority.
Like everything in life, some things are important and some things are not and the hard part is figuring out which is important and which just seems important. While this sounds like it is confusing, it can be if you fail to understand the priorities in your life. What is important relates to your long term goals and what is not important is often just a passing concern but this requires an objective view.
In truth, developing an objective view is very hard for some people because it requires the implementation of discipline and sacrifice. An example is always fun – assume that you have seen something in a store that you really want. The objective portion requires that you justify the purchase in terms of value and cost analysis, in other words, is this just a whimsy that can’t be dismissed. Everyone, on occasion, needs to participate in whimsy so it may be good for you but it is still important to consider the cost and the actual value that the purchase will have in your daily existence. Assume that you have seen a new phone and you must have it, it has everything you could ever want so now do an objective analysis.
Some people define themselves by their phone and this would add so much, on the other hand, what is so important about a phone, are you filling other gaps in your life? A phone has just a couple of truly important purposes and everything else is about you not about the people in your life. Here is another one of those simple but factual truths, an old saying: You can’t shake hands over the phone. Personal contact and relationships are more important than sharing your thoughts with people that you don’t know. This is rather funny, but this book is sharing thoughts with strangers, but hopefully there is a difference that is evident.
The purpose of priority is important as you begin to get into the topics of managing your finances because everything is a decision between this right now and that in the future. As was touted earlier, every decision has consequences and a simple sacrifice today can lay the foundation for a shift in the direction of the future.
One of the future topics is Budgeting, a truly boring and tiresome topic but once understood can make a difference in your financial position. Budgeting is the financial portion of setting Goals. Let’s spend just a moment on Goals and this topic will be closed.
As said earlier, all decisions have consequences and these consequences can determine your future. Touching briefly on the Chaos Theory concept implies that anything can happen as a result of decisions but the thought behind each decision changes the direction of the potential chaos. If you have thought through a decision and it is intended to move down a road towards a long term objective, the impact of the chaos can be shifted in that same direction. It is almost like saying that there is no such thing as ‘Good Luck’ there is only the results of a series of good choices and those consequences coming together.
Goals are nothing more than long term desires firmed up and put into writing. Long term is defined by each person but you can have goals that reach one year, five years, ten years or twenty years. Goals can relate to things like homes and cars or memories like trips overseas or to see something that you remember from childhood like white water rafting. Goals are best served when they are written down, planned and reviewed with updates. Goals are like that infamous ‘Bucket List’ but the plan is to accomplish these things long before the ‘Bucket’. There are not any fixed methods that can insure the completion of the goals but there are three primary steps to follow: 1. Write them down with as much detail and planning as you desire knowing that changes are likely, a notebook would be good; 2. Review the goals on a scheduled basis making updates and changes as needed, sharing the goals with those close to you that can become part of the fulfillment, and 3. Celebrate the completion of steps towards the goals because a goal is the result of taking steps, not just standing still.