When You Don't Know What To Do, Do The Work In Front Of You
I don't know who first said this. I have seen it attributed to Calvin Coolidge, the Buddha and a Christian missionary named Elisabeth Elliot. There is probably a refrigerator magnet with this saying on it available for purchase somewhere. I think of it quite often, when I am feeling overwhelmed with tasks, needs, wants and decisions. Start with what is literally in front of you - the kitchen sink, the in-box, the patient who needs your undivided attention - and your next steps will start to declare themselves to you.
If you don't know where to begin in understanding personal finance - and none of us do, at first - start where you are. And if you don't know even know where that is, I would like to place two tasks in front of you.
The first is to read a book called The Millionaire Next Door. This book will change how you view wealth.
The second task is to track your spending. I did this by downloading credit card and bank statements and creating an Excel spreadsheet, although there are plenty of free templates you can use instead. The important thing is use a system that is intuitive to you and simple enough to go back to multiple times, because you will. When I first laid out our spending years ago the process took many hours spread out over at least a month. Now when I go back to revise the numbers I can do so in a few minutes. This is, in my opinion, the absolute essential first step in mastering your finances. All the investing acumen in the world is worthless without knowing where all the money goes. You will probably find some surprises and some expenses that you didn't even know you had. I certainly did.
Speaking of Quiet Cal,
“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.” ― Calvin Coolidge