Hey, it’s me again, the Journey-Man. I spent some time this week looking back and realised that I need to track my progress. I need to make sure that I haven’t forgotten (or ignored) any of the valuable lessons I have learnt. To be frank, I’ll probably need to re-cap every week because, as it turns out, I forget things pretty easily. I ‘m sure it’s not just me though.
So, this is what I’ve come to realise so far.
This is number 5 in the series and the point at which I have decided that I need to track my progress. And, I need to set up a scoreboard!
Why keep score?
Throughout my life I’ve had seasons of growth and success, and then seasons of anguish and loss. It’s usually during the tough seasons that I start to believe that ‘this is how it will be from now on‘. I also tend to do that when times are good. But the reality is that life is seasonal, there are good times and bad times and my measure of success should (must/will) be over the long-term rather than the short-term.
It’s like watching the stock-market!
If you look at any share price over the last month, three months, six months or twelve months, you may come to different conclusions. The short-term view (of a month or two), doesn’t give the real context. In fact, as one stats to look at the longer and longer-term, the picture changes considerably. You see the ups and downs, the gains and losses, money-gained and money lost – but the bigger picture usually shows the upward trend. Today may look bad, but things are actually moving in the right direction.
This may not apply to all shares, and it’s very “pie in the sky”, but the point is to realise that life is seasonal, yes – but we need to make sure we are seeing the upward trend when it is there. You won’t see any trends though unless I track my progress.
A Progress Bar?
To do this we need to be taking note and keeping score. We may need to have some sort of progress-bar for our finances. We need to be able to look at our short-term as just that, the short-term (a place where we can make changes and learn so that we can positively affect the long-term).
I have set up my (first) scoreboard for the next 36 Months. Using what I have learnt over the past month (yes it’s only been a month), I worked out that I need a ‘small’/er emergency fund (a rainy-day fund) as a starter and I will need to set a goal for that fund and I will then need to track that goal.
I urgently need to deal with debt (aggressively). After debt surgery a bigger emergency fund will be required (this will be the smaller one that I will add to once I have sorted out my debts) and then I need to start saving. I have come to understand that unless I follow a process that can take me from small savings to big debt cuts and to reduced spending, I will never pull out of the downward spiral.
So here is my scoreboard for the next three years. I’ve created a bit of a plan for the next 3 years and I’d encourage you to also think about where you are headed. You don’t need to plan out the rest of your life, and you most certainly won’t be able to plan perfectly. Just start.
My scoreboard may look silly to you and that’s ok. You should set one up that makes sense to you and your circumstances and goals. This is how I will track my progress.
Maybe this isn’t for you
I am sure many of you already know and get all of this. It may seem naive and perhaps childish.
As late-starters we are older and so, supposedly wiser. I really don’t mind if this is all old-hat to you. But if it is, I would also suppose that you have no debt problems and no savings issues. You are living a care-free life in the fast-lane. If that is the case then you can give me some insight (I would gladly take your advice on-board).
But I speak to so many people my age (and younger and older) who have money problems. I see so many people wasting good (now) money and living (now) lives they can neither afford or sustain. For many I suppose the current salary or credit card is keeping harsh reality at bay. I am speaking to those people. People who are willing to take a look at reality. People who can see that short-term isn’t long-term and that there is indeed time to start. Even if we start late.
Scoreboard tasks and goals for the month
I am going to be working hard this month to make sure that I head off in the right direction. As quickly as possible. My journey has started late so I have no time to waste – and neither do you. I want to make these next three years count. I want to make radical change and I want to break through. The knowledge that I am picking up is extremely valuable and needs to be shared. I want to teach my kids along the way. I want them to be early starters.
My goals, included on the scoreboard are:-
- Set up my first emergency fund
- Spend less
- Fully understand my debts
- Keep learning
I will be sharing my experiences about all of these as we journey together. I am so excited about what’s ahead that I want to share these ups (and downs). As we journey together I will be writing articles on each subject, so keep up and keep following.
The late-starter journey has really begun!
Until next time,