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[The following is a partial transcript of this episode of The Scott Alan Turner Show. Listen to the full episode to hear this story, listener questions, money hacks, and inspiring stories of people that are changing their financial lives. Subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes or Google Play]
One of the Great philosophers of our time, I’m not talking about Homer Simpson today, but arguably even better, had the following to say:
That’s not a good bake.
I’m talking about none other than Paul Hollywood from the Great British Baking Show now in Season 5 on Netflix. Great for the whole family.
We have this new bakery close by I mentioned on the show a few months back. I had read how the owner was on one of the Food Network shows. Battle Star Cupcake or something like that. A cake pop at this shop was $3.50. And a basic tiny round cake that could feed one person – me – starts at $50. Not for me.
My frugal bone laughs at the idea of spending $400 on birthday cakes for twin five-year-olds when I could either:
- Get a big ol’ cake from Costco for $40
- Make the cakes myself.
From my bachelor days I got hooked on baking for a while, so decided I’ll make the cakes, and save a boat load of money. I took Friday off and baked for five hours.
I was using different sized pans than the recipe called for, so I knew I’d have to adjust the oven time down. By almost 1/2 for the vanilla cake. Even then I pulled it out, cooled it, got it out of the pan. I heard that great voice from above in my head immediately.
That’s not a good bake.
Thank you Paul Hollywood.
I knew why – I improvised and changed the size of the pans. It’s hard to make a unicorn cake that is round. Unicorns are not round. I used a rectangular pan. I improvised.
Everyone does it in life though you may not be aware when you do. Or sometimes you are and do it anyway.
You run out of money before the end of the month and can’t pay a bill.
You’re following this plan you read about to get out of debt. Step 1 to Step 10.
- Everyone sticks in a step 1.a
- Or a step zero.
- Or a step B.1.01 paragraph 3 subsection 5.
We’re stuck in a traffic jam. A bunch of people are going that way. They must know a short cut. Follow them!
Improvising allows you to take what you know or have learned recently and apply it to your specific situation. Since we’re talking baking, improvising is different than following most of the cookie-cutter advice out there. The reason there are financial advisers, TV shows, radio programs, put out by people like Clark Howard, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and myself that answer your questions is because you are unique, and so is your situation.
I can’t begin to count the stories of ‘I’m doing this program, except I’m doing this part differently.’
Here’s a gotcha though – You can’t put frosting on a cake if all you have is cake batter, right?
As delicious as that would taste, you’re not going to get a cake out of it or be able to put birthday candles on it. They would sink. You also can’t put a roof on a house until you have walls up, right?
But you can run the cable lines before, after, or during the plumbing pipes. You just need them both done before the insulation goes in.
Floors go in after painting. They can go in before you paint, but you run the risk of getting paint on brand new floors.
EVERYONE IMPROVISES. You have a Step 1. You have a Step 10.
What’s the most important thing in a step-by-step plan?
Some people will add steps, some people will skip steps, some people will do them out of order. Some people will repeat steps. Sometimes you pull a cake out of the oven and it’s so burnt you have to throw it in the trash and start from scratch. You can follow the steps exactly and still have a bad bake.
- Ovens cook differently at different altitudes.
- A thick metal pan and a thin metal pan cook cake batter differently.
- A humid day can mess up a cake.
But since we’re talking money:
- Yes you can use a zero-percent balance transfer card to get out of debt faster.
- Yes, people do use their credit cards as an emergency fund, even though it’s not a fund and you can’t get out of debt by taking on more debt.
- Yes people do get the 401k match while paying off their student loans, because it’s free money.
- Yes, some people stop all retirement savings for years for other more important goals like putting more towards a house. We did. It turned out alright for us.
- Yes you can take 24 months to get out of debt instead of 22 months because you want to go to your sister’s wedding in the Bahamas.
As you soon realize everyone improvises with the plans they follow, guilt, disappointment, and feeling bad about yourself goes away.
Millions of people have become millionaires and they all did it a million different ways. My path looks a lot different than your path.
When you’re not stressed out about money, your marriage will get better. You’ll get better at your job. etc. You want that right?
Water Cooler Conversation
Ask someone about their plans and follow up with a question about if they are following the plan exactly, or are they improvising and making it their own. You don’t have to discuss money, it can be:
- an eating plan
- a learning plan
- a travel plan
- a plan to raise a child
The point is to prove to yourself – nobody is going to follow a plan exactly. If you aren’t following a plan exactly, that’s ok. Personal finance is personal.
Review your financial plans and make sure they are YOUR financial plans and not someone else’s plans for your money and life.