The Things We Do Well - The Dollar Stretcher
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The Things We Do Well

Recently I became aware of something that I'd overlooked for years. It's one of those little things that aren't earth shaking, but can make a difference in how we live our lives.

It began when I noticed that we all like to do the things that we do well. I'm not a golfer, but I understand that some are better at the long drive and others excel at putting. If golfers are human (and, with the exception of golf widows, most of us think they are), then the ones who are good at driving probably enjoy going to the driving range. Those who are better at putting would rather spend time practicing that eight footer. And, that's only natural.

Success feels good. It makes our efforts seem worthwhile. Makes us feel a little superior. Gives others an opportunity to praise us. Generally does things that feel good to us. So it's not surprising that we like spending time at the things that we do well. The opposite is true, too. Our friendly golfer probably doesn't like practicing his puts. Especially if he struggles in his short game. It's frustrating to keep trying to do something that you're not particularly good at. Embarrassing, too, as others see you fail repeatedly. Tough on the ego. The natural inclination is to spend our time at the driving range. Not struggling on the practice putting green.

The same is true of our home life and finances. There are some things that we seem to do well. And other tasks are likely to cause us problems.

How does that play out at home? Let's look at a couple of examples.

Some of us are very good at planning things. It just comes naturally. Almost without effort. Doing a weekly menu plan is a breeze. And, planning for a vacation is something to look forward to.

Unfortunately, that's not true for everyone. Others among us struggle to plan the simplest things. Like what we'll have for dinner tonight. We tried creating a meal plan. It was a pain to put together and didn't work very well. We decided it was not worth the effort involved.

How about a financial example? Some of us relish the details of our finances. We enjoy checking our credit card bill each month. Keeping track of our investments is a pleasure.

But, for others the opposite is true. Our minds numb at lists of figures. Details drive us crazy. We can't stand them. So our monthly statements stack up on a pile that we intend to go through 'someday' in the future.

So what can we learn from this that will make our lives and our finances better? First, we can take advantage of the things that we do well. Our planning friend would be wise to make weekly menu plans. They'll reduce their grocery bill with a minimum of effort. In fact, the effort will feel like play, not work.

Same thing for our detail person. Look for opportunities to use that detail orientation to your advantage. You're a natural for comparison shopping. Also gifted in finding errors in your various statements and accounts.

Second, we need to make provisions for the things that we don't do well. Either by getting better or finding an alternative. Take our 'planning challenged' friend. Doing a weekly menuplan will not come easy to them. They'll probably need help to do the job properly. Perhaps prepared forms or even a proceedure for creating a meal plan would help. If even that's not enough, our friend might want to seek out plans that they can purchase.

Or the person who can't stand details. Letting their statements stack up is not a wise move. Either find a step-by-step process to walk you through the statement or find someone to help you.

Recognizing that you have a weakness and compensating for it is the wise move. If you're nearsighted, it's smart to get glasses or contacts. No reason not to do the same with your household or financial affairs.

Often you'll find that your partner complements your strengths. Use that to your advantage. There's nothing that says that the person who cooks needs to do the menu planning. A wise couple works together.

Much as we'd all like to be special, no one person is naturally gifted in all things. But, we can learn to identify where our talents are. Then learn to use them well. And, finally accomodating the things that don't come naturally to us.


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About Gary

For more than 25 years, Gary Foreman has worked to manage money effectively. Prior to starting The Dollar Stretcher, he was a financial planner and purchasing manager. While helping clients manage their hard earned money as a financial planner, he applied commonsense, time-tested techniques during the turbulent 1980’s. The experience convinced him that you didn’t need to hit the lottery to accumulate significant wealth. Following that, Gary had an opportunity to learn more about how to get the best value for a dollar spent in the corporate world. As the Purchasing Manager for a computer manufacturer, he was responsible for supervising over $10 million in annual purchases. Gary began The Dollar Stretcher website <www.TheDollarStretcher.com> and newsletters in April 1996. Over 300,000 readers benefit from the time and money saving ideas presented in The Dollar Stretcher newsletters each week. His mission is to help people "Live Better for Less". He also provides private label newsletters for companies wishing to provide money saving information for their clients and/or prospects. Gary lives in Florida along with his wife of thirty years and their two children. Much of his time is spent working with the men's ministry of his church. One of their ongoing projects is the "Holy Smoke BBQ" which sells bbq on Friday nights with the profits going to support local foster kids and orphans. When he has a free moment you’ll find him restoring a Checker station wagon nicknamed “Two Ton” or cruising in a '65 Impala SS Convertible with doo-wops playing in the background.

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Gary is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who edits The Dollar Stretcher website <www.stretcher.com> and newsletters. You can follow Gary on Twitter.com/gary_foreman
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