If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you'll know that being surrounded by hamsters on the corporate treadmill is not the most motivating environment you can be in - especially when you're working towards Financial Freedom.
So I constantly surround myself with like-minded individuals by following a list of personal finance blogs on my reading list.
The community has been very open and supportive with their varied thoughts on a common theme - which is financial freedom.
But I really wanted to know, in their own words, what is "the ONE most important thing in personal finance".
(I know that it is hard to pin down just one thing, but that's the whole point of this article).
Here goes, I hope you enjoy the responses as much as I did:
1) Jason - Dividend Mantra
"Live below your means. It's not what you make, but what you keep. Cash flow can provide almost infinite opportunities. Don't take the power of savings lightly."
2) Steve - Steveonomics
"Design a simplified, frugal lifestyle by living close to work and inexpensive activities such as the library, gym, bike trails and parks.
Learn money savings skills such as cooking, basic repairs, negotiating and buying quality used items such as clothes, furniture, and cars.
Associate yourself with like-minded people; most importantly your partner who will have a huge positive or negative impact on your mental and financial well-being!"
3) Steve - Kapitalust
"The most important thing in personal finance is to understand yourself - your goals, your limits, your flaws, and your strengths. You need to understand yourself to understand what you want to achieve; to successfully understand what you want to achieve will set you on a path towards crushing your personal finance goals."
4) Mr. 1500 - 1500 Days to Freedom
"Concentrate on what is important in life. You'll realize happiness is not achieved through money or stuff. Once you've come to terms with that, everything else will fall into place."
5) J. Money - Budgets Are Sexy
"Know where your money is coming and going. You don't have to track every last penny, but knowing how much you have leftover for goals/dreams every month is super important. You need to own your future."
6) Alicia - Financial Diffraction
"After trying a gung-ho approach, I've realized personal finance is really all about balance. If you lean too far towards extreme austerity, or are apt to constantly splurge, it's a difficult road with your money and your future you're trying to build. Try finding the middle ground, because gradual change can be so much more effective over the long term than a drastic about-face."
7) Jason - The Curious Investor
"Don't be afraid. Taking control of your money can be a daunting task, but if you are willing to take it slowly, to make mistakes along the way and to learn from the experience of others, there is no reason you can't achieve financial freedom. "
8) Graham - Moneystepper
"Keeping track of your finances"
(Graham even responded by writing a full post on this topic after I contacted him. Do check it out here: The One Tip to Financial Success)
9) Laurie - The Frugal Farmer
"Personal finance has absolutely, positively, got to be personal. Your plan has to be your own, and you can't worry about what others think. Value-based spending means you spend your money on what has the most value to YOU. Not to the Joneses, not to the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you, not to your family and friends."
10) Chuck - Scotch Egg
"The "Most Important Thing in Personal Finance" is to set realistic goals, develop an intelligent strategy around those goals and to stick with it! Living below your means, paying yourself first (automated payments to your investment account), and creating a simple yet well diversified portfolio of Index Funds and ETFs is a great place to start."
11) Michelle - Making Sense of Cents
"I think the most important thing in personal finance is that everyone's journey is different. While one thing may work for someone else, it may not work for you, but that should not stop you from trying. It's all about finding what's best for you and your family, and taking that thought process to make it work for you so that you can reach your personal finance goal."
12) Dan - Our Big Fat Wallet
"Live within your means"
13) Zee - Work To Not Work
"As for the 1 most important thing in personal finance, I would have to say be mindful of your spending. Before you can invest you have to save. Most people just buy things because they can afford a $5 item here or a $10 item there. You're at the store and you see something that's "cute" or "I could use that" so you throw it into your basket only to use it a few times or to replace something that you already have that works perfectly fine. You don't need these things, once you realize what really improves your life it becomes easier to save. Did your purchase make your life that much better? If it did, then do it, you should do things that improve your quality of life. But if it doesn't, then try passing next time. Some people think that you need to do something radical to get ahead like moving to a smaller house, or selling a car, but you can still make good progress with a lot of the smaller items."
14) Will - First Quarter Finance
"You control your financial destiny."
(I despise excuses and apathy! :D People need to accept responsibility for their finances before they can get their act together.)
15) Karen - Makin The Bacon
"There are many things that are important factors to personal finance. However, the one that stands out in my mind is to have perseverance. Along the road to financial freedom there will be difficulties. There will also be setbacks and mistakes. The Joneses, social media and the people you know and love will be a huge distraction. You will be tempted.The important thing is to learn from all the obstacles and push past them to get toward your goals."
16) SB - One Cent at a Time
"Spend less than you earn. Simply for the fact you can't go on working forever. So, keep aside a part of your current income for future. The more you save, the faster you can retire to enjoy rest of your life."
17) Frugal Trader - Million Dollar Journey
"My tip, if you want to succeed in creating wealth, you need to create a mental or physical picture about what you want to achieve, and set realistic goals to get there. Put your goal (or picture) somewhere where you can see it every day and make sure your daily actions are in alignment to achieving that goal."
18) Mrs. Frugalwoods - Frugalwoods
"When you’re working towards a defined goal, frugality ceases to be about what you’re giving up and becomes about what you’re going to gain."
19) TEA - The Escape Artist
"Work hard, save hard, invest in equity index funds and property, minimise costs and rebalance periodically. If you stay the course you will be rich within 10 years."
20) Sarah - Add Vodka
"I would say the one most important thing in personal finance is that money is a tool, it shouldn't be a goal. Use money to buy your time back, don't use your time to buy money."
21) NMW - No More Waffles (new addition)
"For me, living within my means and focusing on what makes me happy in life would definitely be the most important thing about personal finance"
My take on this:
"Know that the end game is not about accumulating money. It is about building a system that will continue to provide, so that you can focus on what matters in life: passions, relationships and contribution."
Looks like everyone has a different take on the one most important thing in personal finance.