Seek Information - it's a key to success
If you seek information, and you get it, you can make good decisions to support your approach to frugal living. If you don't have any information, the chance of making a good decision is poor. If your information isn't good, the chance of you making a good decision is once again poor. You need adequate and quality information to make a good decision, otherwise you risk making a bad one. The choice is yours.
Information is key to just about everything.
Good and abundant information helps you:
- understand a situation
- manage expectations of you and others
- understand potential consequences
- be prepared
- have better interactions with people
Information takes many forms. It might be news, announcements, gossip, opinion, advisories or raw data.
The information at hand might be good or bad, or even intentionally misleading, but you have to deal with it, one way or the other. And, you should always seek information in addition to what you have so you can:
- verify claims
- stimulate new ideas
- make use of a different perspective
- provide more options to choose from
- have a robust discussion with yourself and others
The Lame Excuse
You've been in this situation before. I know I have. Something goes wrong and the person responsible says "I didn't know!" That's the kind of excuse you get from a 10 year old. They didn't know what would happen, but they proceeded anyway without any experience, insight or information to go on.
I remember the excuse "I was naive" being offered by a full grown man for many a blunder that he was associated with in a company where I worked. After a while it gets tiring. After a while, it wears on the organization.
Somewhere, he learned that "being naive" was an acceptable alternative to being knowledgeable. I've never thought that to be the case. You have to know what you're doing if you expect to do it well, and "I didn't know" just doesn't cut it when it comes to important things like life planning and managing money.
To obtain information, sometimes that simply means asking questions. It's hard to know what it is you're unaware of, but when you bump up against a problem that's caused by your lack of knowledge, skill or experience, you should seek out assistance and seek information about why it's a problem and how to avoid it if it comes knocking on your door again.
It seems like an easy task to learn from our mistakes, but clearly there are people that don't learn well that way. They believe to some extent that ignorance is bliss, and they go through life in a less than successful manner.
A far less painful approach to learning involves picking up clues from the mistakes of others. I prefer something even less painful - learning from the experiences of others, be they good, bad or otherwise. But, in order to do any of that, you need to actively seek information.
When faced with an important situation that you're unfamiliar with, you might simply try to determine what information you need to make a good decision or do a good job, and then start asking for it.
You might start by:
- asking for advice or assistance from someone with experience
- talking to others in a related situation
- doing some research on the Internet
- seeking out a guidebook or instruction
- reading what's made available to you
- asking what else might be available to read
- getting a second opinion
- paying for professional advice
All these activities are a way to seek specific information. If you don't know where to start, then ask for an overview or an introduction
. Once you have additional information, you can:
- take time to think it through
- develop alternatives
- "sleep on it" before making a decision
You might be able to postpone making a decision until you think you have sufficient information. You might also be able to place the task in the hands of someone else so you don't have to worry about being successful. That can be a good approach, especially if you watch and study what happens. Time spent studying what a more experienced person does will help you be better prepared to handle it next time.
Since we're talking about frugal living and making financial oriented decisions, let's say you're faced with a decision to spend a lot of money on a credit card, but you don't know if it's a good idea. Here is what I would ask myself:
- Do I need this? Is it essential?
- If not, do I really want it?
- Will I use it?
- Can I live without it?
- What are the alternatives to this?
- Was this my idea to make a purchase, or is someone else trying to persuade me?
- What are my plans to put this to good use?
- How well have I gotten along without it before?
Notice that these questions don't even start to mention paying for it, because that's out of the question until I'm convinced that the expenditure is warranted. Many daily spending decisions are discretionary, so we need to keep in mind that in many cases we don't need to make the purchase.
Let's pretend for the moment that I've decide that the purchase is warranted. Now, I want to ask other questions so I can make a good spending decision. Questions like:
- Is the cost reasonable?
- Does the cost reflect good value?
- How can I lower the cost?
- If I can't pay cash, is it worth the extra cost to finance it?
- Can I pay over time without a carrying charge?
- How can I use the desire of the seller to my advantage?
- Can I see myself easily getting this paid for with "room to spare?"
You'll also want to consider risks and hidden costs as well as that might not be obvious on the surface. This is the idea of "covering all your bases" so you can play the game at your best. Consider these as "bases" you have to cover:
- unanticipated failure
- repair due to accident
- operating costs
I think you get the idea. If you don't seek information about the purchase and its related expenses, you're not getting the whole picture, and it could bite you in the rear a little at a time. And, when you discover these costs, you might be so far down the pike that you won't be able to put the brakes on.
Seek information well before you approach the "point of no return."
Wrapping it Up
The idea is to seek information so you proceed with important financial and life planning decisions with your eyes wide open. Obtaining information is in your best interest so you can make good decisions, and often that means you need to actively seek information. It rarely comes to find you.
You'll need adequate information and it needs to be of good quality, something you can rely on.
Try to imagine what you don't know about the subject, and then start asking questions. If you don't know where to begin, then ask an experienced individual to give you a primer or an overview of the situation so you'll know enough to ask specific questions.
The bottom line is seek information, because "I didn't know" just isn't acceptable. You deserve better than that, so don't short change yourself or your approach to frugal living simply because you lack information that could be obtained by asking.
Done with Seek Information, take me to Managing Money
Done with Seek Information, take me to Individual Responsibility