On Your Own

Get the latest information and tips on financial planning.

Lifelong Learning

Don't finish school and never learn another new skill. 

Most of the time when people come into our conference room or call us up, they want help with how to do something. Whether it's saving money, budgeting, making major purchases or signing up for insurance, they want to know how.

Of course we can talk for days about little tips and tricks for saving money, but the reality is, we are not going to tell you how to spend every dollar of your income. I'm not going to be that person who appears behind you and knocks your credit card out of your hand if you're about to spend money you shouldn't be spending.

However, if you want one of my most powerful tips to help you save money and change your lifestyle, it would be to learn something new. Plain and simple. Once a week, once a month or even once a year, learning new things will have lasting benefits in many areas of your life. It's a great habit to get into.

Learning new skills of course can help you save money because you'll be able to do more things yourself. From fixing the mower to painting your bathroom, a little knowledge can go a long way in your wallet. But even if you're not on your way to being a hard-core do-it-yourself-er, being knowledgeable is never a bad thing. I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't enjoy the conveniences of modern life from time to time, and I'm all about spending my money with local businesses. You just have to know your limits and decide what's worth paying for and what's not. I know a tiny bit about roofs and shingles, but I don't have the time, tools, crew, or balance to replace my roof if it became necessary. Just keep in mind that we live in a time of almost unlimited information at our fingertips. So use it!

We always say the best clients are the most educated clients, and this goes for other businesses you work with too. I know, many of you simply aren't going to work on your own car no matter how many YouTube videos you watch. I get it. But that doesn't mean you can't be an educated consumer. If you need new brakes, for example, and you plan to hire someone, make sure you know exactly what needs to be done and what doesn't need to be done. Do all four pads and rotors need to be replaced, or just the front two? Educating yourself first can save a lot of money on your total bill, while also reducing the risk that you're being taken advantage of.

A recent personal example happened while I was having my oil changed last week (no, I don't always change my own oil). I was told that I needed a new air filter, but I do change my own air filters, and had put a new one in just a few months prior. This job takes me 30 seconds and costs a fraction of what the oil change businesses charge - even when it is necessary.

Of course, life-long learning also simply helps keep your brain young, and it's fun to master a new skill. So whether you're building engines in your backyard shop or you don't know how to pop your hood (yes, I encountered someone recently who actually didn't know how to pop the hood), take some time in the next couple of weeks to read an article or watch a YouTube video on a skill you've been thinking about trying. You could save yourself money you didn't even know you were wasting.

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