Small Business Owners: Do You Suck at Personal Finance? Go Scrooge Yourself

Posted by Stephanie Valentine on November 24, 2009 in Small Business Cash Flow, Small Business Opinion-Making, Small Business Strategy |

Asking if you suck at personal finance can seem insulting, but the question is not meant to be insulting. It’s just that, being a small business owner and having recently taken a deep look at my personal finances, I have to say that I suck at personal finance. A lot of my small business owner buddies do, too. How do I know this? Because we have all been taking the 30-Day Challenge by Ramit Sethi of the Scrooge Strategy, and it has been truly eye-opening.

What is the Scrooge Strategy 30-Day Challenge?
Basically, it’s an ebook written by national bestselling author Ramit Sethi. The challenge is to see if you can save $1,000 in 30 days by doing the steps in his ebook. There is one step per day.

There’s nothing really revelatory in the book but one message comes through loud and clear, especially for small business owners:

Most of us are far too busy maintaining our business finances that we let our personal finances fall by the wayside.

Or, to put it another way, we are too tired, lazy, or burned-out at the end of a business day to do the steps that Ramit suggests in his ebook. Being a small business owner can be difficult, and at the end of the day many of us want to take refuge in comfort rather than engage in the drudgery of personal finance.

An Enlightening Example of Why We Suck at Personal Finance
When it comes to saving money, most of what Ramit talks about is common sense. He calls it the “well, duh!” factor. An educated small business owner might read one of the personal finance tips, find it to be common sense, and say, “Well, duh! I already know that.” And that’s the end of it.

That’s all well and great, but just knowing about something and taking action are two completely different things. One example he gives in the book is pretty relevant as we move into winter and colder weather. One of his tips is to turn your thermostat down by three degrees to save money. He gives specific savings figures for several major cities so that you can estimate the amount of money you will probably save by turning down your thermostat.

Well, duh, right? OK, suppose you actually decide to turn down your thermostat. You bounce out of bed in the morning full of enthusiasm for saving money, and crank the sucker down by three degrees. Fabulous. Good for you.

Off you go to your small business, where you have a lousy day and waste lots of time fighting fires and producing little. You drag your butt home at night, feeling worn out and looking forward to a cozy evening on the couch with dinner and a glass of wine.

What a shocker when you open the front door and are greeted by the arctic temperatures inside your house. Oh yeah, you cranked your thermostat down by three degrees that morning. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Now it seems like a totally lousy idea invented by a complete moron. You are tired, hungry, and not in the mood to suffer. You rush to the thermostat, turn the dial up to 85 degrees, and promise that you’ll do better tomorrow. In actuality, the thermostat stays at 85 degrees and never goes back down.

That’s what Ramit means about the “well, duh” factor. We know better than we act, and thus our personal finances suck the big one. To fix this problem, he suggests that we stack a fuzzy robe, hat, and warm slippers by the front door before we leave for work in the morning. That way, when we drag our butts home at night, we will not only be reminded of why we turned the thermostat down, but we will have some immediate warmth to help us get through the shock of the cold air inside the house.

What’s the Moral of This Story?
The moral of this story is that if you are like most small business owners, you work yourself to the bone to squeeze the maximum profit out of your business, only to squander it with lousy personal finance skills.

Hmmm … sounds like a quandary to me. After all, why am I busting my butt at work only to end up with very little to show at the end of the day, week, month, or year? That seems silly. I might as well quit my small business, flip burgers for a living, and use some savvier personal finance skills to get ahead.

That’s why the Scrooge Strategy ebook has been so valuable to me. It helps me retain more of what I earn through my small business. Sound like a good idea to you? You can download the book for free and read it for 30 days. If you hate it, you don’t get charged. If you love it, there’s a one time charge of around $28. It’s been a heckuva deal for this small biz owner.


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