As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve traveled from Alabama back to my home state of Texas. With that travel came with 10 hours driving on the highway. I’ve noticed a few peculiarities during my road trip that is very transferable to personal finance and getting ahead in life.
You Only Need 1 MPH Extra
I noticed the speed limit was 70 MPH while driving on the highway. I “sped” and went 75 MPH (I think cops are generally forgiving for going +/- 10MPH driving on the highway, but I’m unsure) on cruise control. Cruise control is how life goes if everything you did yesterday happens today and nothing changes. You’re cruising along life and everything is going swimmingly.
Then you approach a car in front of you that’s going the exact same speed you’re going. You’re neck and neck and if you keep going the same speed, nothing changes. Should this continue, you’ll never get ahead or get in front of the car. You want to get ahead so what do you do? You up the cruise control speed once, effectively going 76 MPH.
All of a sudden, you need to switch over to the left lane and pass the car in front of you. After time passes, you’re handily ahead of the car and you can come back down to the usual 75 MPH. Without worrying if the car will catch up to you or not. You’ve put in the extra work in the present which sets you up to lower your pace and relax in the future. The best part is that it was only 1 MPH extra.
Doing Extra and Adding Time
It’s a fundamental idea that nets you big results. Do the minimum definition of the word “extra,” keep the same pace, and add in time. This is a great equation for success. This is how you get ahead in personal finance.
Tackling on debt? Increase your payments by 5% and keep that increase for the year. It accelerates your debt free plan. Or maybe you want to become a millionaire. Upping your savings by 5% and keeping it at that level for 5 to 10 years will do wonders.
The best decision is to continually increase savings year-over-year. However, that’s not always possible. Increasing it one year and maintaining that level will do wonders as well. It doesn’t just apply to personal finance. It applies to careers as well.
Small Extras With Time Add Up
Getting ahead in your career requires something that’s more than the person you’re competing with. One-time extras that gets noticed is rare. Yes, if you created a new product that generated an extra billion dollars in revenue for the company, that one time extra will get you (very) high up. This isn’t the norm, though.
The small extra things could be coming to work 30 minutes earlier than others and leaving 30 minutes later for a year. It could be as simple as putting in more hours to get more done. Another small extra would be constantly learning more about the company’s business model. You could be in finance, accounting, engineering, sales, or any other of the positions listed.
However, not understanding the company’s business model or how it’s a value proposition for customers won’t impress upper management. I am dying to work more than 40 hours but I’m “technically” paid hourly until I get placed in a full time position. They prohibit me from working more than 40 hours so I can’t gain an edge that way.
What I gain an edge in is learning as much as possible. I’m currently in an oil and gas underwriting rotation, and instead of only learning about the finance side, I’m reaching out to engineers and learning about the technical side of the oil and gas industry as well.
Going Too Fast Hurts You
While driving on the highway for 10 hours, it’s not uncommon to see at least one person pulled over for a moving violation. Especially for speeding. Driving faster than the next guy will help in getting to your destination faster. However, cutting corners and going too fast can result in a big fine and a hurt driving record, which is your reputation.
Using speed is an acceptable way to get ahead, but an overuse of speed can do more harm than good. Cutting corners and accomplishing things half heartedly to get things done quicker can set you back both in time and distance during your journey. There are checks set in place in the system to ensure it.
Make sure that if you do plan on going faster than the next person, it’s not an unethical or illegal shortcut.
Breaks are Golden
Driving on the highway for an extended period of time is exhausting. It’s a big voyage. I need to take a restroom break every so hours and eat to get back on the road. Otherwise, I will turn insane in my own car. Breaks are a haven that helped keep my sanity while on the road.
Think of this voyage as your life. Life isn’t exhausting by any means but if there’s only thing I’ve realized, is that life has a lot of days in it. Without breaks, it becomes easy for sanity to slowly disappear. Saving aggressively is something to be applauded for. However, continuously doing so without splurging once in a while is psychologically detrimental.
Athletes have “cheat days” where after eating clean and working out for 5-6 days, they have 1-2 days of eating junk food and fatty food. Doing good things every single day for the rest of your life isn’t healthy. It’s almost going overboard. 99% good choices and 1% bad choices is how I like to look at it. As long as the bad choices don’t have the potential to ruin everything.
Driving On The Highway Was Fun
To come up with a personal finance analogy while driving, I obviously had numerous free time to think while driving on the highway. I’m glad that I recognized the lessons that I saw. Oftentimes ideas aren’t thought of when we are consciously thinking of them, but rather when we least expect ideas to come up. Lessons are a valuable asset!
Readers, have you thought of personal finance while driving on the highway? Do you agree with the similarities above? Let me know in the comments below!
My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!
Read more about me here.