8 Hours a Month

Do you want to create financial independence and retire early? Sounds like an ad for a seminar. I suppose it could be, or it could be a very good teaching moment. About fifteen years ago it was the latter for me.

I was listening to a presentation and the speaker pointed out how badly everyone wanted to have financial independence yet how few people actually spent time learning about the subject and doing basic maintenance on their finances. Then the statement was made: “If you want to retire early you should spend at least eight hours a month learning personal finance.” It was a light bulb moment for me, and the concept has seemed applicable in so many areas of my career and personal life.

It seems that we have hopes and desires for big things yet we often don’t set aside just a little time to develop ourselves toward those objectives. Using the example of financial independence, I realized that I did not spend any time per month intentionally reading or learning about the subject. I went out and bought Money Magazine and a few others and just spent a few hours reading them. I then bought a few books and soon enough I was spending about four to six hours a month informally studying the subject of personal finance. Almost accidentally I was learning about insurance, the power of compounding, tax advantage savings and more. It was effortless once I made my goal of “spending eight hours a month on the subject of personal finance.”

What other areas can this simple concept apply to? Do you want to learn to write well or give presentations? How about learning to program software? Perhaps it is nutrition, yoga, paddle boarding or photography. You could be as close as eight hours a month away from really learning a subject that would enrich your life, improve your health, set you on the path to a solid financial future, or even help you build better relationships. A few years ago I used this principle to study nutrition and it totally changed my health for the better. I just bought books, watched documentaries and searched out people who had views on the topic. My goal was simply to study nutrition, any angle from any source, for eight hours a month. I trusted that I would learn, see patterns that made sense to me, and eventually that learning would influence my behavior and lifestyle. It did, faster and more profoundly than I could have ever imagined.

On the flip side, this concept can show you why you may have an ongoing frustration in a certain area. If you have a fuzzy goal in an area and are not spending eight hours a month getting better at it, then you are most likely going to stay frustrated and the goal will remain out of reach. Perhaps you don’t have eight hours a month right now for this objective. That is fine; set the goal aside until you do. You will lower your stress, let yourself off the hook and enjoy life a bit more.

Back on the subject of creating a sound financial future, I recently read an article on how millennials can save over $1 million in their 401(k). Even after all these years, when I saw the title related to personal finance, I eagerly clicked on it to get 20 minutes or so contributed to my eight hours for the month!

Here’s that piece: Millennials: How to become a 401(k) millionaire