One of the reasons that I started this site was because it forces me to learn new personal finance skills. Sometimes, the tree is sitting there in the forest and you need someone to point it out and make it stick out from the forest. The more skills that you learn in any given subject, the closer you are to what could be considered an expert on that subject. There are a few subjects that I consider myself to be an expert, but personal finance is not one of them. But, I am trying.
It occurs to me, however, that in our journey to become experts at personal finance (even if it’s just our own finances) we can sometimes hold ourselves back. We can sometimes become so focused on the topic and that one slice of our lives that we forget that there are other parts of our lives that must also be taken care of. For many, personal finance is a deeply religious topic. As a Christian, there are many places in the Bible that specifically mention money and the manner in which we should handle it. In fact, you might notice the tag line here at Beating Broke as being a quote from the Bible. But, nowhere in the Bible does it say that I must be perfect in the handling of my money before I should begin to work on any other aspects of my life.
If we focus too long on any one aspect, many of the other aspects can quickly fall behind. Baker, from Man vs. Debt, recently called himself a hypocrite. Why? Because he’s been a crusader for paying off debt and doing so unrelentingly. He has preached a very die-hard approach to debt retirement that is based in the teachings of Dave Ramsey. But, Baker and his family have put their debt repayment on hold while they travel and experience foreign living and working.
If you only glance at the situation, you can’t help but agree with Baker’s assessment of himself. And in a some ways, he is a hypocrite. However, he also is not entirely a hypocrite. He and his wife planned for this trip. They budgeted for it and saved for it. Yes, they put some of their goals on hold, but they did so to take advantage of an opportunity that may have never reappeared for them. If he and his wife had passed up on this opportunity, they would have been kicking themselves for it for the rest of their life. They’d be debt free, but at what cost.
It is a lifetime opportunity. If they had to choose between debt repayment and a trip to Disneyland, I would say that they would be stupid to not skip it. After all, Disneyland isn’t likely to go away anytime soon and they’d be able to visit at a later date. Yes, you have to maintain your vigilance and do whatever you can to meet your goals. But you also have to live your life. If your goals are holding you back from living your life, then you really should rethink your goals, because they may be causing more harm than good.
Baker is a very skillful personal finance person. He’s been writing about the subject for quite a while now. He and his wife have made great strides towards their goal of being debt free. But, Baker didn’t let his personal finance skills hold him back. He didn’t let them keep him from living passionately. And he didn’t let them keep him from taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity. He and his family will have a wonderful story to tell and experiences that you just can’t buy. If that makes him a hypocrite, then so be it. I don’t think it does. After all, if he hadn’t been walking the walk, he wouldn’t have had the ability to take advantage of the opportunity. If anything, he’s an example of why you need to stick to your guns. If you do, you will be able to take advantage of opportunity instead of having to let it pass you by.