The idea is:
Little things that seem insignificant in the doing, yet when compounded over time yield very big results… I call them simple daily disciplines. Simple productive actions, repeated consistently over time. That, in a nutshell, is the slight edge.
There are many small, positive actions you can take every day. They probably don’t look like much and in fact, they’re often super easy to do. Over time, these repeated actions will yield big results in your personal and financial life. Like with the rule of 72, the success curve is exponential.
So if it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone do this? Because they’re also easy not to do. People underestimate their power.
J is already putting slight edge principles into action. Late last year he asked about learning Chinese. We found a local class that meets on Sundays and he started a daily Duolingo practice.
As of today, he has a 278 day streak. He does two lessons per day, which takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes. It’s something small and each day it doesn’t look like much. But over time, it’s made a huge difference in his skill level.
At this point, it’s a habit. He does it on his own without being prompted. He’s also keenly aware of his streak and not wanting to break it, he keeps doing those daily lessons.
What other habits?
What can you do regularly (that doesn’t seem like much now) but will yield a big payoff later? Here are six habits we have.
Saving at least 10%
If you’ve been around for awhile, you know that J saves at least 10% of all money that comes in the door. Why 10%? Because it’s easy to do. He’s welcome to save more and on many occasions, he does. But 10% never hurts all that much.
It’s to the point now that he knows it’s coming. He figures out how much 10% is, then decides to put that much or more into savings. It’s a habit.
Making and sticking to a budget
J has been budgeting for Christmas gifts for a few years now. Last weekend we went to buy all of his presents. He printed out the budget, made notes as we shopped and calculated the total before we went to the register. He was super stoked to come in under budget — but really to do it all by himself. Kids love to be independent!
Repeatedly associating a budget with positive feelings (“I did it!”) sets kids up for success.
Deciding what you want and saving up for it
It’s not just about delayed gratification and putting those pennies away for a time far into the future when you can finally buy the thing you’ve been wanting.
It’s about figuring out what you actually want. It’s about making and executing a plan. It’s about laser focus on a goal and maybe even getting there before you thought you would. And it’s about enjoying what you’ve worked so hard for.
J did this with a Lego set. What do you want?
Reading and learning
I recently wrote about the best Christmas gift for kids (a Kindle) and reading How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000. At this point, J reads a ton of fiction just for fun. He’s in a great reading habit. As he gets older, we’ll talk about how some books (like The Slight Edge) can teach you things and help you grow. (I love The Best Money Book List from Rockstar Finance for books specifically about finances.)
J isn’t just saving 10% of all money that he gets and socking it away in a savings account at the bank down the street. His money is making money through multiple vehicles — currently savings bonds, a CD and stocks.
I know some people hate the word hustle, but I love it AND all the ideas surrounding it:
- Having a positive attitude
- Finding a problem that people have
- Getting creative to find a solution
- Offering to solve the problem
- Taking action
- Doing a good job
Learn about J’s first side hustle selling Christmas cookies.
What habits can you or your kids start today? Think small and consistent (like the story of The Hare & the Tortoise) and you’ll be on your way to success.