The first step is hardest

In my many years on this planet I’ve learned a couple things.  Some are more obvious, some are more personal.  Some are really technical, some are more simple and matter of fact.  But, when it comes to making things happen, there’s one thing that I’ve learned and it’s the first step is the hardest.  I know, I know cliched as it is.  But it’s really amazing.  Back when the Mrs. and I were running marathons, you know what the hardest part about the training was?  Getting out the door, once we were out the door the running part was pretty easy, for the most part, I’m sure if you asked me at mile 25 it certainly was harder than the first one but I digress.

So, how exactly does this pertain here.  Well, we’ve been doing this whole FI thing for about 3 years now.  And I remember back to when I first started figuring it out.  I was never a super saver, or super investment savvy, but nonetheless I had some investments and I was saving some money.  But I started to question what was going on with my stuff.  I started noticing how every thing in the news said that the market was up like 30% since a year ago, and I looked at my investment accounts and talked to my financial adviser and asked, “If the market is up 30% how come my stuff is only up like 5%?”  To which I get a response, “Well, you are hedged against the coming down turn and we are less risky… blah blah blah”  And I started to realize that I’m paying this guy a hefty sum to not even keep up with the market.  So I started reading and researching and figuring out what I wanted to do.  I was fed up with it.  I knew I needed to do something about it, but I didn’t know what.  I mean I’m not a financial adviser, these guys are professionals, you pay them for a reason right?  So what am I to do?  Well, I looked and hummed and hawed and finally I made a decision.  I moved everything taxable into WealthFront (Why I can get into another time) and tax advantaged into Vanguard. It was a little frightening, here’s my savings that I had worked so hard for and I didn’t know anything about it, and I just did it on a whim.

So what happens next, I made this big step, did I sit and relax?  Well, sort of, but once I made that one change others soon followed.  I consolidated all my 401ks, I consolidated all of the Mrs accounts into the same places (we keep separate accounts, but they’re at the same institutions).  I set up back-door roll-overs.  I’ve even set up and started administering my own 401k.  It’s kind of amazing looking back and how terrified I was of taking that first step and taking charge of my own money, but here I am pretty well versed in the ways of taxes and financial instruments.  I’ve even schooled the IRS and taught my accountant some things in the mean time.

Another one that is pretty amazing was the frugal side of our life.  We started out very slowly, we weren’t really sure what we were doing.  So I took the first step, I changed my phone plan to a cheaper carrier to see what the difference was.  I figured I could always go back.  Mrs. Wow stayed put and waited to see if there was anything noticeable in my coverage.  Not a damn thing, so we moved her over to the same phone company.  Then came cable, then came all the monthly subscriptions, then came gyms memberships and we started losing interest in clothing and shopping.  It just comes down to taking that first step, stepping off the cliff and going to it, and once you do, it just starts snowballing and after a while you wonder why you were so timid to begin with.

It’s happened to us with traveling and volunteering and, well, blogging.  That first step is terrifying in almost anything you do.  But you have to take it and once you do you never really know where you’ll end up.

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