We are all familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise is a long shot to win the race because he’s soooo slow, while the hare is the easy favorite with his quickness and speed. When the whistle blows, the hare sprints out of the gates and gets a huge lead over the slow, barely moving tortoise. It seems obvious that the hare will win, but we all know how it ends; the tortoise somehow, through insurmountable odds finds a way to win.
I think there are some valuable lessons to learn from this simple story, and it can have a huge impact on your ability to achieve all of your financial, and life goals!
Don’t Be the Hare, Learn from His Mistakes
In our classic story, the hare is so confident he will win, that he makes a critical mistake of taking his eyes off the goal. His only goal was to win the race, to beat the slow, trudging tortoise. By all means, it was an easy victory, but he got distracted and over confident. If we’re not careful, I think it’s easy to treat our finances like the hare treated this critical race.
In This World, There Will Be Distractions
The general statement of the world is to live in the moment, and as a millennial, that can be really tempting! I constantly hear people say, “treat yourself, because you deserve it!” But if we treat our finances like that, we end up spending money we don’t have, and create a cycle of debt and poor spending habits.
There’s also danger if we don’t make clear, specific financial and life goals. Without clear goals, it’s easy to get distracted. Jenna and I made a clear goal to go to Ireland for our five year anniversary, as opposed to someday. If we made our goal for someday, it would be easy to not take any real action and think of our vacation as far off, eventually. By simply creating a time frame, it makes it easier to stay focused and keep chipping away, much like the tortoise. Right now we have over half the money saved, and have two years to save up the rest.
Lastly, the hare never really took the race seriously. He took his speed for granted and lost focus on what really mattered, winning the race. If you don’t take your financial decisions seriously, and invest money where it really matters, it can drastically affect your financial future. Stay focused on your goals, and you can win with money!
Be The Tortoise
The tortoise is slow, trudging, and kind of a boring character. But sometimes, that’s exactly what our finances need! I honestly love having boring finances! It means that I don’t have unexpected surprise expenses, my money is going towards the goals I choose, and I can be extremely efficient. I think there is real value to be learned from the tortoise in how we reach our financial goals.
Start Making Goals
Step one of “The Tortoise Money Makeover” is to make a clear, specific goal. What do you want to do with your money? What do you want to accomplish? When we got married, we wanted to pay off our student loans, so we made a goal of paying them off in five years. Then we put action behind it and changed our lifestyle to align with becoming debt free.
Maybe your first goal is to pay off your debt like us. Maybe you want to go on a vacation, pay off your car, pay off your mortgage early, buy a house, start a new career, or become an entrepreneur. Whatever your goal is, write it down with a specific date and get to work! You might need to change your lifestyle a bit, but if your goal is worth it, I think you will be determined to make it happen.
Keep Trudging Along No Matter What
Step two is to make small, consistent contributions toward your goal every month. I think it’s really important to be focused on your goals and do everything you can to reach them. I also believe you can focus on several goals at once. For example, we wanted to pay off our student loans as fast as possible, but we also wanted to start planning for our trip to Ireland and start saving for retirement.
As a result, we put the majority of our extra money toward student loans, but each month we dedicated between $75-100 to our Ireland fund and $100 towards our Roth IRAs. It isn’t much, but over the last three years it has really added up and we can see real fruit from our efforts.
Stay Focused and Never Give Up
Step three is to never give up on your goals. No matter the circumstances, always, always, always keep moving forward. Don’t get distracted by advertisements, friends and family calling you crazy, or your own frustration with needing to stick to a budget. Trust me, all of these will happen along the way, but if you stay true to your plan, you will reach your goals. Remember, whatever you are going through now is only temporary, so if it sucks, it will eventually get better.
When you finally reach your goals, you will be so excited about your accomplishments that you will hardly remember the trials and obstacles that popped up along the way.
Wrapping it Up
Be the Tortoise, not the Hare.
Let Me Know in the Comments
What helps you stay focused on your goals? What are your most common distractions? I’d love to hear some goals you are currently working on!