1. Get a no fee bank account
2. Get the best rewards credit card you can
3. Set up an investment account (use low fee index funds to start)
These might not sound like much but they are some easy first steps to ensure you're not wasting money, missing opportunities to gain money, and to start saving for the future.
When it comes to money there are only two categories of things you can do:
a) Spend Less
b) Earn More
These three steps will help you do this but to be successful at this or at anything you'll have to keep at it, all day everyday. This is hard for two reasons:
a) We think about motivation totally wrong
b) There are legions of people spending trillions of dollars trying to make us make bad decisions that benefit them rather than ourselves
I'm not anti-capitalism I'm all for it, but for it to work we the consumers need to make more of an effort to make good decisions. Literally, in order for a market economy to function, in order for the best products to succeed it requires the consumers to make the best decisions possible, but we don't have the capacity to process all of the information (see Homo economicus). And I'm not saying I'm the only person that has cracked the code on human motivation, there's just a lot of research out there with counterintuitive findings that haven't made their way into our general knowledge yet.
So the goal of this site is to help everyone with these two issue. The lists of things you can do are intended to turn into resources to let people share what the best solutions to issues they've tried to solve (better decisions). And I'll have a section where we can build a better mental model of why we do what we do. We can use the latest research and all of our experiences to come up with something we can all keep in mind when trying to make decisions or achieve goals, some rules of thumb to help us make better predictions of how to avoid procrastinating or doing things we know are bad for us.
I plan to have a pretty solid start on writing out a summary of all I've found so far on the topic compiled into one concept you can visualize, but for now I'll just talk about the most important factor, Your Reason Why.
This may sound overly simplistic, but this is it, this is the main factor in success or failure. If you have a compelling enough reason why it will help you resist or ignore other distractions, and keep trying. This is the second important factor, the willingness to try and keep trying. You're going to fail, you're going to screw up, no one is going to just achieve something without any slip ups or any problems, you'll need to not get too upset with yourself and just keep trying.
So that's it for this post, the most important things to focus on are your Why and committing to Try.
I wanted you to do the first 3 items before we got here because this is where people can loose interest or go off thinking about their why and never nail it down.
I read something similar to this post 20 years ago, and I didn't think much of it. The advice was in the introduction to an investing course. It was to stop and take the time to figure out exactly what your goals are, exactly what house you want, what car you want, how much money you want to make, the life you want to live, the things you want to be able to do. I thought about it a bit but I skipped the step, I just thought I want to make as much money as possible, and I thought it was something I could come back to. I don't know that the exercise was perfect, but over the last twenty years I've come to see that it is your why that will determine if you stick with something or not. If your reason is not compelling, if it doesn't invoke strong emotions then your drive will tend to fizzle out, your time will be divided. And as I said, there are legions of people spending trillions of dollars and every hour of every day trying to figure out how to make you make bad decisions, decisions that benefit their shareholders rather than you. If you benefit that is irrelevant, they are legally obligated to do everything in their power to benefit their shareholders, even if that mean breaking the law. As long as the fine is less than the profit they are obligated to do it. Think of those Panama Papers where companies do mostly legal tax evasion, some illegal. It's more illegal for them not to try to avoid paying taxes. I don't want to end this on too negative of a note, I just want to let people know that the deck is stacked against them to make bad decisions, and to not beat themselves up over any setbacks. Commit to keep trying.
Click here for a follow up post to these 4 steps with a video.
Here's one of my favourite stories about what you can accomplish is you commit to trying.