“Swamp Finance”

The following is a guest post from Jason, the proprietor of Live Real, Now, a blog focused on spending–and saving–in the real world. It was written for a blog swap run by the Yakezie personal finance blog network to answer the question “What is the best financial advice or tool you have found or been given?”

Once upon a time, there was a young man–an arrogant man barely out of childhood–who thought he new more than anyone he had ever known, trusted, or respected. In his arrogance, he left his family and friends behind to enter the wilderness in search of a long lost teacher.

He found the teacher. He even managed to convince the teacher to accept him as his pupil.

However, he didn’t change his ways. He insolently ignored the fundamental lessons, assuming he already understood them. When he was rebuked by his teacher, his only defense was to whine that he was “trying”.

“Do or do not. There is no ‘try’,” replied Yoda.

These words of wisdom represent one of the most fundamental rules of personal finance, or even life, itself. If the best you have to offer is a half-hearted “try”, you will never succeed.

When my wife and I decided that it was time for our debt to die the death of a sad specter of self-loathing hiding in a cave, we went at it with a relish that would have launched a poor astromech droid to the freakin’ moon!

We never said we’d give it a shot for a month and see how it went. We knew that we either needed to succeed or we’d have to file bankruptcy. We didn’t try, we did it. Rather, we are doing it. Friends told us it was impossible to live without credit; that we were foolish to try. They were right, so we didn’t try.

Similarly, when it was time to get started on a college fund instead of hanging our hopes on scholarships, we just did it. Sure, we started the fund with just $10, and it is only growing by $10 per month, but it’s there and it’s growing. When we get our debt paid off, we’ll see exactly how close we can get to giving our kids a self-funded full ride to college.

When it comes time to get the things done that you know need to be done, the trick is to do it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t “try” to find time. Just make it happen. Cut up your credit cards, make your budget, or sell the stuff you don’t need. Whatever it is, do it.

There is no try. There is only DO!

Editor’s Comments:  Reading this guest post, I have to agree that if something needs to get done, just get it done without excuses. Do it. Those that can take this approach tend to reach their goals quicker, in my experience.


  1. says

    Leave it to Jason to get his best financial advice ever from Yoda, lol. Great advice though! I just recently realized that I won’t do something if I put too much thought into it – it’s like I talk myself out of it in advance. So, I usually just jump in and see what sticks. :-)

  2. says

    Why did Luke Skywalker have to whine so much by the way?

    I love that Yoda is your example, and a good one it is. I am sure you can’t levitate a ship out of a swamp yet, but your emergence from debt will feel almost as miraculous when it is all said and done.

    I admire your work ethic and decision to try and get out of debt instead of just declaring bankruptcy.

    Keep up the savings, you are doing a great job. Yeah, 10 dollars a month toward a college fund might not seem like much, but it is better than spending that ten bucks on something entirely useless. You will increase your savings over time. One step at a time.

  3. says

    @Crystal and @krantcents, The best way to succeed is to fail fast. The faster you fail, the faster you can find the successful things.

    @Everyday Tips, I can actually levitate a ship, just don’t ask me to prove it. :) I wanted to get started on the college fund so it’s there. It’s easier to boost it later, than to find new momentum to create it.

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