Greetings to the good people of Silicon Valley, from way out here in Colorado, AKA “flyover country”. Like your host, I too am a technical professional with a knack for personal finance and a passion for blogging about it. As my tech career and credentials blossomed, I did briefly consider a move to Silicon Valley, in order to become an instant tech millionaire. Whether my efforts would have produced .com millions or a .com bankruptcy (or both), I will never know. Instead, I planted roots in Denver, a vastly different place than either Silicon Valley or the east coast where I had lived previously.
I have learned some lessons about personal finance based on my experiences here in the Rocky Mountain State that I hope can be applied to other areas of our country and our lives.
Personal Finance Tips From Colorado
Rule One: Buy Out Of Season
Most frugal Christians know to buy their decorations the day after Christmas, although many feel that it defeats the purpose of celebrating the holidays. While it may be 100 degrees in Denver next weekend, the big event here will be the purchase of ski tickets and equipment at the big sporting goods stores in town. This fall, we will buy lawn and garden supplies, and maybe a grill. In the winter, we buy our patio furniture. By spring, it is time to find snow tires. It seems as if the whole economy here is based on gouging people who have to buy their seasonal items right now. Wait a few months until the object of your desires is out of season, and it is yours for a steal. The key is to have the savings and the patience to buy at the right time, along with the restraint to prevent impulse purchases. More thoughts on this in the post Best Time To Buy Stuff.
Image from tripadvisor.com
Rule Two: Be Prepared For Anything
Most of the time we have beautiful weather, but you never know when to expect baseball size hail, floods, tornadoes, droughts, and of course blizzards. We Coloradans often drive around with emergency kits just because you never know what to expect. Heck, it is almost as bad as Southern California ! When it comes to personal finance, I like to take a similar approach. In addition to keeping some liquid savings, I like to keep ample insurance on my house, my car, and my life itself. I also keep multiple credit cards (I have American Express and a few Citicards) and an ATM card on me wherever I go.
Rule Three: Travel Light
Coloradans love outdoor activities such as bicycling, hiking and cross country skiing. In each of these sports, your performance suffers dramatically the more your equipment weighs, such that when you have a mountain to climb, having too much baggage can really slow you down. When it comes to personal finance, I always tell people to carry the smallest “load” possible. By that, I mean to have as few monthly payments as you can. When you must pay something every month, take every step possible to minimize it. For example, I have no car loan, no cable television bill, and no data plan on my cell phone. At home, I have chosen to purchase energy efficient appliances and to invest in insulation for my home rather than pay higher bills for gas and electric. The result is that I am better insulated, not just from the cold, but from any financial disasters that may befall me in the future. When faced with a financial challenge, I hope to overcome it more easily by having a lighter burden of payments every month.
Rule Four: Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
I didn’t move to Colorado just to earn as much money as possible. If we wanted that, we might have moved to New York, L.A., or Silicon Valley. People choose to live here for the quality of life and the beauty of the outdoors. Yes, we work, although some of us work more than others (I am looking at you Boulder). On the other hand, I know few people who work 14 hour days hoping to make it rich through sheer exhaustion.
Out here, the goal seems to be to have as much fun as possible given the time you have on this world. If that means taking a sick leave on powder days, most employers don’t seem to mind. The point is to manage your finances well, but realize that life is about other things. Money is just a means to make those things happen.
This is a guest post by Jason D. Steele, who has been a personal finance writer for the blog at AskMrCreditCard.com since 2008. In addition, Jason has his personal blog where he writes about Travel, Aviation, and Consumer Issues.
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