Inspiration comes in many forms. A movie, an overheard conversation, a blog post, and even a short quote can shed new light on old concepts. Surely, you already know the basics of personal finance: Set goals, create a budget, and save as much as you can. But reading up on the nuances of these concepts can get tedious.
That's when it's time to mix things up. Here are seven short quotes that'll inspire you to rethink where you're headed financially and how you plan to get there.
1. On spending
"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."
-- Will Rogers
Comparing your financial situation to anyone else's is a sure way to blow your budget. Sure, your neighbors and co-workers might have fancy cars and take glamorous vacations. But they're probably also leveraged to the hilt, and that's not a sustainable way to live.
Set your own financial goals and live within a budget that supports them. Be confident in your frugal choices and don't let spendy friends knock you off your plan. There will come a time the roles are reversed, and you are financially free while they're reliant on Social Security.
2. On avoiding debt
"A man in debt is so far a slave."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without debt, most of us wouldn't have the option to own a home, buy a car, or start a business. But then there's the other side of debt: It's easily abused and quickly becomes a budget killer.
The average U.S. household has $8,500 in credit card debt. Assuming a minimum monthly payment of 2% and an interest rate of 16.92%, that debt eats up $170 of your monthly budget for the next seven years and four months. If you had no debt, you could put that $170 into a tax-advantaged retirement account each month. If it earned 7% annually, you'd have almost $20,000 after seven years.
So keep your debt focused on big, long-term purchases. Avoid financing stuff that won't outlive the payoff period, like clothes and shoes.
3. On staying focused
"No one's ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that's abandoned by February."
-- Suze Orman
Paying off debt and building wealth for retirement are long-term efforts. That's what trips up most of us. Life happens, and we get hit with unexpected expenses, we lose focus, and we veer off course from the financial plan.
If you have trouble sticking to your budget, find an accountability partner who will hold you to your financial plans and talk you down from unnecessary spending. This can be a spouse, life partner, or a very good friend -- anyone you trust and respect. You should check in with your accountability partner weekly, but you could also call this person when you're feeling the urge to spend.
4. On maintaining discipline
"Doing the tough things sets winners apart from losers."
-- Stephen Richards
Saving is hard. It's human nature to make decisions that feel good today, instead of holding out for a better tomorrow. But you can learn to develop the habit of saving. You might start with a small challenge of saving an extra $20 weekly for the next eight weeks. Meet that challenge and then raise the bar. The longer you stick with it, the more your wealth grows, and the easier saving becomes.
5. On living modestly
"I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money."
-- Pablo Picasso
Living richly is not all fun and games. Sure, it sounds amazing to have multiple homes around the world and exotic sports cars in your garage. But those pricey assets also complicate your life. The more things you collect, the more expenses you take on, and the more decisions you have to make. This is why celebrities and athletes have personal assistants, housekeepers, and chefs: because the high life is actually a lot of work.
Picasso nods to a simpler life, backed by enough cash to keep things comfortable. That's a wise (and realistic) pursuit.
6. On choosing your life's path
"You don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man."
-- Lawrence, in the movie Office Space
In this quote, Peter's neighbor in the movie Office Space offers a modern take on Picasso's perspective. Your financial goals are based on the life you want to create. Wealth-building is a very personal journey, and you get to define the endpoint.
7. On putting your money to work
"Here's how I think of my money: as soldiers -- I send them out to war every day. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there's more of them."
-- Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank
Money sitting idle in a savings account doesn't do much for you. O'Leary puts his money to work aggressively in private equity investments. The rest of us have easy access to less complicated options, namely low-cost mutual funds.
The long-term, inflation-adjusted return in the S&P 500 is about 7% annually. Use that to your advantage by sending your money soldiers out to the market to take prisoners and return home.