Slow and steady wins the race, the old proverb goes. This is also a great strategy when working towards your financial security and a comfortable retirement. Patience and consistency are the secrets to going slowly towards financial security. Small actions, started early and performed often, will yield greater financial security in the future, than throwing large sums at an investment or opportunity.
Many financial mistakes have been made by people jumping in to the latest ‘big thing’ without proper prior research. Another common mistake is thinking that it is a good idea to leave financial planning until later in life and then having to move fast to get sufficient funds saved up.
I mean, you’re only young once, right? Who wants to be financially responsible when you’re in your twenties? Plenty of time for retirement saving later on! This popular thinking has left many people struggling in their later years and having to work long after they were due to retire.
So, what is the answer you ask?
Slow and steady is definitely the mantra for securing the financial future you want. Whatever financial move you intend to make, take it slowly. Take the time to think it through, avoid impulse decisions like the plague and educate yourself in everyday financial matters.
You’re going to need to be committed to your financial security and a comfortable retirement. This may mean making some tough decisions to achieve the best results. A bit of early pain really will mean you gain the long term.
The basis of any slow and steady financial plan is the household budget; in fact, a good budget is really like a plan for your current finances as well as for a secure financial future. It will be your most helpful tool. So, don’t go slow in getting started on a budget but go slowly while you are getting it together.
Make a Dynamic Budget
An accurate, comprehensive budget takes time to put together; if you rush this process, you are going to make mistakes, miscalculate expenses and forget to include something. You need to double check your fixed expenses, your loan repayments and just how much you spend every month. Draw up a draft budget first and then go back and double check you haven’t missed something. Be brutally honest with yourself – a bad budget is one that has things left out. Don’t think of your budget as a finished document; it is a work in progress and it will constantly need updating and adjusting as things in your life change. Your budget, just like your life, is dynamic.
Determine Your Needs and Wants
Do you rush around the supermarket? Do you often make impulse buys? I know I do; and do you know what I have discovered? These are the times I buy the wrong thing or something I didn’t really need. I once bought a skirt in a hurry that I already had at home! These buying mistakes can be costly; I have found this out the hard way.
Do you have something in your home that you bought on impulse but have never used or worn?
When you are buying ‘needs’, shop around for the best deal and the best value for money. When you are shopping for ‘wants’, stop and think carefully before you hand over your money. Expenditure on ‘wants’ is usually where most people come unstuck financially. Be prepared to ask yourself the tough questions when faced with buying a ‘want’ – do I really need it? Do I have something at home that can do the same job? Do I already own something that is similar?
Advertizing agencies are constantly telling us that we must have the latest and the biggest to be happy, to feel fulfilled and to be the same as everyone else. I don’t think possessions equal happiness even though things might be fun to have.
Before you buy, stop and think – do you really ‘need’ the latest technology, that new car, that big house with more bedrooms than you need, or will something smaller and less-expensive fill your ‘needs’ just as well and be much easier to pay for?
Don’t Use Credit For Evil
Easy, readily-available credit likeinstant pay day loans has made it too simple for people to convince themselves that they can afford things that they could really do without. Buying on credit is spending money you don’t have; in many cases, it is spending money you may never have which means a bad result in the end.
Be prepared to walk away so you can make buying decisions slowly. No matter what the slick salesperson says, it will still be available later when you have had time to weigh up the pros and cons. Take the time to compare prices between retailers and learn to haggle on prices.
Waiting 30 days is a great strategy for avoiding impulse buys that has been suggested by one leading financial expert. If you still want to buy at the end of the 30 day period, go back to the store and check it out again. By that time, you may have changed your mind or saved up the money!
Practice Delayed Gratification
Learn the fine art of delayed gratification. We have been conditioned to want everything now; try waiting for the things you want, when you can afford to buy. Set up a savings plan for these items and experience the joy of anticipation of the day when it will be all yours.
Have the Right Attitude
How you approach your finances is as much about your attitude to it as anything else. Once you make the big decision to secure your financial position, it’s easier to make the small everyday decisions that will enable you to succeed.
Remember, you may live longer than you think so it is important to consider your future in every aspect of your life, including when dealing with finances. Don’t make the same mistakes and ignore your financial future like many others you know have. Instead, like Ghandi used to say “be the change you want to see.” Be proactive and make a difference to your future and the future of your children. If you take care of your financial security now, you will be able to retire comfortably, do the things you have always wanted, and feel content about a life well lived. Who doesn’t want that?!
So, what kind of pace do you have when it comes to finances?
Can’t agree with you more. It is crazy how much one can accumulate after 10+ years if they keep at it. Just maxing out your 401K for 10 years will probably lead to over $200,000 in the account right there thanks to growth and matching.
It took 13 years for me to build my “Nut” to self-sustainability. Lots of aggressive saving and investing, but it was well worth it b/c I finally retired today.
Worth a little bit of sacrifice now for a lot of reward in the future!
Congrats again Sam. Retirement is going to feel amazing for you I think. You are right though. It really does add up.
So much good advice in this post, thanks! The slower, more contemplative process you suggest also helps one think about big tasks (like saving enough for retirement) in small pieces. Chopping up any large job into many small bits usually makes the project feel more do-able. Instead of thinking in your 20s how to save $2 million for retirement, think about how to save one-third of your income this year.
Exactly. I have found in the past that if you focus on one step at a time your burnout rate is a lot less. I find I feel much more motivated and rewarded when I tackle things in small chunks.
Thanks for the permission to go slowly! I can only go as fast as my income will allow. That’s something I need to remind myself all the time.
Yes you do. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. If you save more than you can afford you end up in debt which is the opposite of what you are striving for.
Just because you take a slow and methodical approach doesn’t mean you can’t save an aggressive percent of your income to speed the process up. Keep that in mind and you will br surprised how fast wealth can accumulate.
True. Like I always say be as balanced as you can. If you act in balance things will always work out.
So many people these days rush things in life that I wanted to remind people to slow down and that speed is not always the best strategy.
The point you make are spot on: I fully agree with all of them and will urge anyone reading this article to follow the advice to the letter. Good, sustainable things -0 including wealth – grow organically and demand time and care.
I always like to think that sustainable and time go hand in hand.
This is a refreshing post for those of us who got started on the financial security track late in life. There is a tendency to think that you have to rush in order to catch up with those who started out in their twenties. However, working on financial savings and investing slow and steady will make far more sense in the long run/
As long as you are consistent, speed doesn’t matter as much. It is much better to slow and steady than fast and infrequent.
Though not a budget man, I love the dynamic budget idea. Do you really mean slow as a snail? (the picture)
Yes I do. Slow and steady consistent always pays off. You are much more able to stick with a plan when you don’t rush it and take on more than you can manage. Small, slow, consistent steps is the key.
Well said Jeremy. I totally agree. Investing too fast is risky and can actually cause more detriment than good. Slow and steady is the best way. Consistency and persistence I always find pay off for the good.
Great thoughts Miss T. I absolutely love this topic by the way, as it is the way most people get wealthy. In the race between the tortoise and the hare, the slow and steady tortoise wins every time.
Yes they do. Unfortunately we live in a fast paced world and it is hard to get people to slow down. It goes against people’s nature.