A lot of what you can read about personal finance — your money — can seem really dull, or can tell you a bunch of stuff you’ll wish you’d known 20 years ago, but which can’t help you now. I don’t like talking about money as an abstract good, or “personal finance” as though that term somehow relates to me. What I like talking about are goals. The goals in my life are what motivate me to understand the boring topics, the fun insights, and the little details that make money work for me.
For me, my money life changed a lot when I got engaged. Weddings are, um, VERY EXPENSIVE, and I found myself obsessing over every detail. My wife and I had a fabulous wedding last December, and I’m extremely happy with how it came together. It did, though, cause me to look at my finances through a completely new lens. I found that having a set date when my wedding would occur made me far, far more efficient with my spending, and taught me habits that have continued. Keeping my goal firmly in mind helped me get control over my money.
There’s a site I love that is all about goals: 43things. They have a way for people to connect with each other around the goals they share, and to discuss with each other about how to get to those goals. It’s a great site. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that it helped me as much as I wanted with getting my wedding in order — not from any fault with the site, but simply because money, as it relates to a goal, is much different than a more general goal like “read more books.” I can pick up a book and just start reading if I want to; learning how to get more from my money is a much different kind of skill, and one that could benefit from a different kind of site.
With money, you can go from the unbelievable blandness of transaction fees and coupon terms to the sheer terror of wondering how you’ll make it through the month (terrifying, but not boring!). But goals are not boring. Getting married is not boring — even a smaller goal like buying a new XBox is not boring. Focus on your goals, and the boredom, the drudgery, and the pain will all drift away.