Learning to snowboard and managing your money have many similar aspects. Both require dedication and effort in order to master. At times, you’ll fall in both, and it will hurt. You need some equipment in both cases, and may not know what is best when you’re starting out. Both have ways to protect you in case of an emergency or catastrophe.
When you’re just starting out snowboarding you’re going to fall. A lot. And you won’t know why. And it will hurt. The same thing happens when you’re a beginner at managing your money. If you have credit card balances that keep getting larger, if you’re running out of money before payday, or you’re late paying your bill and are racking up late fees or bank fees, and you just can’t understand how or why, you are at the beginner level. The thing is with both snowboarding and managing your money is that they are both hard to learn from trial and error.
A much more efficient method of learning is to get someone to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and how it fix it. At this level you don’t have an emergency fund. This is like not having the ski patrol. Who is going to help you when you fall and break a leg? Without an emergency fund, you’ve just got to pull yourself along the snow until you get back to your car. You want the ski patrol to come and help. Get an emergency fund.
At the intermediate level you’ve gotten a bit of an emergency fund built up, so when you fall and dislocate something, the ski patrol will take you off the mountain and give medical treatment. However, even though you’re now taking a lift up the mountain, you still fall getting off the automated ride up, and thus aren’t taking advantage of all that automation offers. You are able to recover from some of your mistakes, you just don’t hit the snow by default, but you’re still not aware of why you’re falling. You’ve saved up for some safety equipment, like a helmet, and are no longer accumulating new debt, late fees, or bank fees. And you save some money each month. You are spending less than you make. Congratulations! You may start to give beginners helpful hints, though they don’t seem to help much.
On the advanced level you’re handling the steeper stuff with ease. You are considered “very good” by both intermediates and beginners below you. You’ve paid off your credit cards and don’t carry a balance. You have an emergency fund at the appropriate level. You save for retirement automatically and have a robust investment strategy that you follow. Maybe you’ve started a blog to teach others about what works and what doesn’t. You know why you fall when it occurs, but it’s happening less and less often. The lift is great, you’re fully using automation to your advantage. You’ve learned your lessons from professionals, and are able to apply them. You can also diagnose what’s going on if you need to, and can adapt to tougher conditions. You can board near trees and in deep snow without fear of getting stuck.
You’re the expert that people ask questions of. Your boarding may have been on TV or other media at some point. You have significant income from many different sources, so you’re able to adapt and excel at whatever terrain you are headed down. You can safely go out of bounds (with the proper safety equipment) because you know when the exceptions to the rules apply. You probably have a popular blog where you freely share your experience and knowledge. The mistakes you do make are from pushing boundaries and trying new things. Perhaps you’ve joined the ski patrol and are actively out there helping people who are hurt and getting them to safety. The big avalanches are the only thing that really concerns you, as the protection against such huge and rare occurrences are limited and expensive.
A couple of quick pictures from my recent trip. Both days I spent boarding were beautiful blue-bird days after having gotten about 3 feet of new snow in the few days prior. Amazing.
Readers, where are you on the skill scale? Are you still catching an edge and doing a face-plant, or are you at ease with any obstacles or terrain that you come across? Do you teach or take lessons? Or are you still trying to self-teach?