6/15/17

Start With Something Small. Taste The Fish!

Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.

Our society and our personal success is essentially built on that basic but powerful premise. But what if that man has never tried fish? What if he's getting by eating Ramen noodles for every meal because he has no idea how good fish is? Why the hell would he want to fish?

I wrote previously about a huge goal I met. I paid off $30k in debt in less than a year and a half. I haven't lost touch with reality. I am extremely lucky to have been in that position, and I understand that most people are not. You might not even be interested in paying off your debt or setting any sort of financial goal because you've never tasted financial success before. You've been eating Ramen your whole life.

I am asking... no... begging you to taste the fish. Just try a bite. I can just about guarantee you that you're going to fall in love. And you're going to want to go fishing every single day.

The Dave Ramsey Philosophy

If you're not familiar with Dave Ramsey, I suggest familiarizing yourself with him. To summarize,
Dave has created a personal finance class called Financial Peace University which teaches his baby steps for financial success. The baby steps say that you need to get current on all your payments, save $1,000 in an emergency fund, pay off your debt, and then save 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund and save 15% of your income for retirement while paying off your house and saving for your kids' college. Easy, right?

If that was easy, then everybody would do it and Smart Money Seed wouldn't exist. Dave knows that the hardest part of teaching people to fish is getting them to actually start fishing. He needs to convince them to taste the fish, and he knows that most of the time once people taste the fish, they become addicted to fish. Once Dave convinces somebody to taste the fish, he knows that person will fish every day for the rest of her life.

Dave doesn't allow people to think about what lake to fish in, what bait to use, or whether they should fish on the dock or in the boat. He lays out his plan from beginning to end, and people follow it methodically. His plan starts small, and it starts the same for everyone every time. The follower of Dave's plan achieves her first goal. She makes sacrifices for a month or even a few months, and now she's current on her payments. Now she's had a hit of dopamine from achieving her first goal, and she's hungry for more.

She saves up $1,000 like clock work, and now she's on to the debt. She's $100,000 in the hole between 3 different credit cards, student loans broken up into 4 individual loans, and a car. $100,000 looks daunting with her $25,000 annual salary. She's really enjoyed fishing for the past several months, but maybe it's time to give up.

But now she has a narrative in the back of her head that she can do it. Just a few months ago, it looked like she would never get current on her payments. Just a few months ago, $1,000 seemed like a pipe dream. Those smaller goals felt just like this $100,000 feels today. But now that she's found out she loves fishing because she's tasted the fish, she's determined to march on. She needs to attack this debt just like she's attacked her first two goals. Dave teaches to line up the debts smallest to largest (he calls this the debt snowball) and to enjoy the little victories along the way every time you pay off a new debt. Those little victories have been enough to inspire and motivate millions of people to keep fishing and become debt free.

Dave's program isn't the most successful financial program because it's the only right answer. It's the most successful program because it allows for those small victories along the way. Nobody would go fishing if they didn't catch any fish until years after they started. The reason people keep fishing is because they catch and eat their fish along the way. Very quickly after you start Dave's program, he's not the one motivating you to fish anymore.

Your small victories you realize every day, every week, every month, and every year allow you to become self-motivated enough to keep working harder and harder. And all of a sudden, even though you're counting on catching a fish so you can eat dinner tonight, all that hard work starts to feel like fun.

Taste The Fish

We're not going to pretend to have as much financial expertise as Dave Ramsey. We're not going to tell you exactly where to fish and how to do it. But we are going to plead with you to taste the fish. Set a small goal. Achieve it. Set another goal. Achieve it. Taste the fish and you'll be motivated to keep fishing for the rest of your life.

Set a Small Goal


You need to start small. Don't run out and buy a $100 meal at a fancy seafood restaurant. Go to McDonald's' and buy a Filet-O-Fish. Maybe your goal is to stop hemorrhaging money this month. Keep your lights on, pay your water bill, and don't add to your credit card debt. Maybe you're already getting by and need to save up $100 or $1,000 in an emergency fund. Maybe you want to pay $50 extra on your debt this month.

Whatever your situation, you need to start with the smallest goal you can make that will put you further ahead tomorrow than you are today. Attack that goal with reckless abandon and kick its ass. Then go find a new lake to fish in. Set your next goal. Kick that goal's ass. Lather, rinse, repeat.

My very first financial goal was to make enough money by mowing through middle school and high school to mostly financially support my social life. I wasn't very cool and spent most of my time at football, basketball, or tennis practice anyway, so that didn't really take much. My parents certainly helped, but I enjoyed the freedom to not constantly have to beg them for money.

Once I graduated high school, I really wanted to save up $1,000. That didn't take very long working full time at Home City Ice. Especially once I started doing delivery driving, I had begun dealing with much larger amounts of money than I ever had in my life, and that was exciting to me. I made a few thousand dollars that first summer after graduation, and my parents and I had reached the agreement that I needed to save $3,000 per year to cover the portion of my education that wasn't covered by my loans and scholarships. I reached that easily freshman year, and I kind of took it upon myself to start saving enough for my rent every year after that which ranged anywhere from about $3,800-$5,000 per year the last 3 years of college.

And obviously I needed enough extra for beer money. Lots of beer money.

My small goals added up, and as I continuously realized small successes, I fell further and further in love with fishing. I didn't follow a blueprint like Dave Ramsey's, and I still don't. I learn about ideas and strategies for financial success, and I tailor those to my own life. If you think Dave's blueprint is best for you, then go for it! If you want to make your own plan or just set one small goal for now, great!

What Are You Waiting For?

If you want to improve your financial situation, PLEASE end your steady diet of Ramen. You have no idea what you're missing out on. Just push yourself to taste the fish. Taste the fish, learn to fish for yourself, and I promise you that you will be motivated by your small successes to keep fishing and to work toward your own financial success for the rest of your life.

1 comment:

  1. Just read your article. Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for Sharing.Go for the best quality product possible and research before purchasing one. Wasting money is not something anyone likes, better spend sometimes on research and get the right fishing accessories.

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