Friday, April 17, 2015

It's Not About The Data - You're Missing The Point

So, the post I wrote (You Can't Change What You Don't Measure) on MakinTheBacon got featured on Rockstar Finance and Lifehacker.

I knew it would get a load of flak from the commenters. Check it out to see what I mean...

But here's the thing, a good number of them are missing the point.


I particularly like this one:

"Uhm no it's not. The age old myth is to work hard and save your pennies when in fact the best way to make money is to solve problems. Look at every millionaire, what did they do? They solved problems or provided a service of some type. So life hacker fuck you with your shit advice!" - Milos Vukcevic 

That's a fair comment.

Millionaires solve problems - but they are only millionaires because they track their income/expenses in their businesses. I have never seen a successful business that does not have proper accounting records.

That's step one in business, so basic - it's almost negligible.

I mean, sure, nobody will instantly become a millionaire when they track their expenses, but it is fundamental to turning your financial life around.

A surgeon cannot remove a tumour from your body without first doing an MRI - and I don't think that you'd want to skip the scan before the surgery.

Or would you?

Tracking your expenses is the MRI of your finances.

It sheds light on the gaps, areas that require improvement and it gives you a perspective on where you are in terms of personal finances.

That's great.

But, you're missing the point if you think it's all about the data.

The PROCESS of tracking your expenses is a form of heightened awareness. When we achieve that sense of consciousness, we spend deliberately.

For most of us, the mere process of tracking our expenses keeps us from spending impulsively.

When you get on top of the weighing machine every day, you become more conscious of what you consume.

It's the same with our finances.

When you begin to track your dollars, you achieve a newfound ability to pick something up on impulse, feel the urge to buy it, and then simply watch the urge leave your body. Suddenly, you'll realise that you have the power to turn your financial life around.

It's also a place where you can confess your sins.

I personally track my dollars using a simple mobile app.

Inside it, lies a collection of sins - gadgets that I shouldn't have bought, clothing that I thought was nice buy did not need, and beer parties that gave me a bad hangover.

Here's the thing. You need an outlet for your sins, otherwise, you'll get sucked deeper into it.

Getting yourself to admit a mistake is a whole new level of self-awareness.

Do you know why the act of confession is so important in the Roman Catholic faith?

Because it gets you to admit that what you did was wrong/sinful. Admission of guilt is the first step to turning your life around.

You need to be aware of the fact that you're naked to know that you need clothes.

Otherwise, you'll end up like the emperor.

On millionaires...or billionaires

As a cash-strapped college student, he said he learned about frugality. "I tried various experiments to live on less than $1 a day without getting scurvy," he said with a chuckle. "You can cook spaghetti sauce with, like, a third of a green pepper, or buy a thing of sausages and a loaf of bread to make hot dogs for 25 or 30 cents apiece."

That excerpt is from an interview with Elon Musk. (You can read the whole article here)

Sure, he went on to solve bigger problems in the world and became a billionaire in the process.

But he started by being pretty damn conscious about where his dollars are going to.

There would be no Tesla Motors today if he spent all his money doing a keg stand every night when he first started his ventures.

So, no.

It's not just about the data.

It's about consciousness, awareness, mindset, commitment and perseverance.

Get it?

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  1. Just curious what mobile app do you use to track your spending?

    1. Hi John, I use Money IQ (iOS). No particular reason for using it other than familiarity. There are certainly way better apps out there.

      But for me, all I need is for the app to record down my daily expenses by categories.