There are tons of ways to learn how to improve your personal finances; you can read books and personal finance ebooks, you can attend conferences, you can take courses through your local community college and university or you can have a personal finance mentor. Today, I want to focus on what I have learned from my friends and family. They are probably some of the best personal finance teachers in the world. As you remember their stories perhaps you can see how it may apply to your own situation. So here are a few financial lessons I’ve learned from them:
From my friend Pete; I learned to avoid having regrets
When I was at University, we did a foreign exchange student session in Europe. Before going to school, we (my friend Pete and I decided to go on a 40 day backpacking trip. We were running on a limited budget as we were in our early 20s. Every time we would discuss whether or not to go somewhere and looking at how much it would cost, my friend would ask me “once you are back home, will you regret not doing this? Not seeing it?”. This is when I really understood the importance of money vs what we were doing. This is also how we cut down on food and goods to concentrate on travelling and visiting monuments!
From my parents: Going bankrupt is not the end of the world
When I was 15, my parents lost an important contract (they were self employed) and they went bankrupt not long after. While it was quite a pain to lose everything and not having money for any extras; I watched my parents get back on their feet over the span of 2 years and start a new business. They overcame the pain of going bankrupt and learned from it instead of crying and whining that they were not lucky.
From my aunt: Rewards belong to those who work hard and smart
One of my aunts started one of the very first “fax offices” when small fax machines were not affordable for companies. She used to work day and night for 5 years. She even bought a bed for her office so she didn’t have to drive from home every morning.
Since then (and you can tell it’s been a while since fax machines are about to disappear!), she never really had to work. If you work hard and smart on your own business, you will definitely succeed (while people think that you don’t even have to work!).
From my wife and children: Money is not everything
I have a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. Before they arrived in my life, I was a career person. I didn’t mind working 10 hours a day as long as I could get a promotion at the end of the year!
But when I look into their eyes, I see immediately that they don’t really care if their dad makes 6 figures or not, they only care to be in my arms and we play together. Sure money will bring you security and will pay for activities, but it should never be a goal by itself. You should want a better education for your children, a nice home so you can spend quality time with your family near the fire place, or great vacation on a beach so you can build sand castles all day long. But you should never want more money in your bank account just for the sake of being richer than your neighbor.