With a lot of things in life – money, career, relationships, lifestyle – there’s this idea that you need to get it just right…
And if it’s not totally completely perfect, you hear from that little voice in your head that says, you suck.
This happens to me all the time in my business. I don’t want to publish a blog post until I know everything about the topic at hand. So I spend hours doing research, then get too overwhelmed to actually write the post.
I don’t want to launch my course until it’s absolutely perfect, so I agonize over the details and put off the launch date again and again and again (side note: don’t worry, I got over this one),
For you, it might be wanting to host a housewarming for friends, but never feeling like your house is quite ready, so continuously putting it off.
Or maybe you’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but your bikini body still hasn’t appeared, so you don’t buy the tickets.
On one hand, this kind of “I want to be perfect” internal drive is totally normal. Blame it on society or your parents or Instagram, but we all face it.
Here’s the catch though…
When it comes to money, perfectionism can cost you. A LOT.
Probably more than you realize. Just consider these common examples…
You’re not super confident about your investing skills, so you hold off on investing
I’m not exactly an investing extraordinaire. I get the concepts, I’ve read the books, but it just doesn’t grab me.
And sometimes that fact turns to paralysis. It’s actually pretty common, especially among women.
In my years writing about money, I’ve heard every reason to put off investing:
- I don’t have enough money to invest. (You could start with just $20 a month).
- I don’t know what I’m doing. (That’s okay. Just read this and Go. Do. It),
- I’m 25! I’m not retiring for like a billion years. (Correct. If you don’t start investing, you won’t retire for, like, a billion years).
Essentially, there’s this super important concept called compound interest.
Compound interest is like a money snowball. The sooner you start, the bigger your snowball gets. And the bigger your snowball gets, the faster it rolls and the more snow it can pick up, which makes it even bigger, which means it can roll faster and pick up more snow. So, what does that look like in numbers?
Here’s a breakdown from Forbes:
“Let’s look at what happens when you invest $10.00 per week at 8% beginning at age 30. At age 65 your initial investment of $18,200 will have grown to $99,402. That’s $81,202 in earnings. Now, let’s look at what your investment would be if you started 10 years earlier at age 20. Your initial investment of $23,400 would have grown to $228,563 at age 65 — $129,161 more in earnings.”
Here’s an awesome calculator that lets you play around with compound interest for yourself.
You want to buy your dream house, so you miss out on the appreciation of buying NOW
Real estate is a similar concept to investing – time is the magic sauce. Your home value inflates with time, so if you buy ten, or twenty years sooner, your net worth will reflect that inflation. (Here’s a great breakdown of why buying a home young makes sense).
I know a lot of my readers live in New York or similarly priced cities. Home buying might not be on the radar for you. It’s certainly not for me (#NYC4life).
BUT…I also know that there’s a chunk of people reading this who dream of buying a house. Why? Because you’ve emailed me and said things like…
- I want to buy a house but I’m worried that I’ll suck at home ownership.
- I feel like I’m not old enough.
- I don’t know anything about buying a house.
- If I wait 10 years I can afford my dream home.
If this sounds like you, then let me give you some advice – you’re stuck wanting to do it perfectly. And that is going to cost you.
You can’t stick 100% to your super-tight budget so you give up on budgeting
Let’s admit this very-obvious-but-often-unsaid fact: Budgets are like diets. They’re strict, they’re painful and they’re hard to stick with long term.
And when you mess up, you usually spiral into disaster.
Perfectionism is all about rigidity, and rigidity is not sustainable.
We all know that there is nothing as rigid and unsustainable as eating only grapefruit for a month, or saying you’ll never ever again pay for an Uber home.
We get into this thought pattern…
If I want to save money, I have to stick with my budget.
Making one slip-up means I’ve broken my budget.
If I break my budget, I’ve ruined it.
I’m going to just give up.
Understanding and monitoring your money is important. And there’s a lot of ways to do it. But nobody (nobody!) sees success from sticking to a rigid, absolute budget.
Sure, perfectionism can be a powerful motivator to take action and push our efforts to the next level. But it can also be destructive and cause us to hold off on taking action, because if we can’t play perfectly then we don’t want to play at all. Don’t fall for that trap!
It’s better to dive in, even if you make a few bad choices along the way, than it is to sit on the sidelines worrying that you won’t make the best possible choice.
So get started. Now!