Surprise, There Is No Personal Financial Blueprint

What do you do when you do not know a cooking recipe? If you are like me, you likely hop onto Google or Pinterest and within fractions of a second out pops all of these delicious recipes. You pick the one that is right for you and then you methodically follow their blueprint.

People often want to tackle their financial situation in the same manner. They look for a blueprint and hope to follow it step by step.

Sadly, I have to be the bearer of bad news. There is no such thing as a blueprint to financial success.

There is great advice online but here is something that people often overlook. Personal finance consist of two words. The first word is the most important, personal. Every person is in a unique situation. It is highly unlikely that two people have the exact same financial situation.

This is why looking up, “How to become a millionaire” or “How to save X amount of money by Age___” cannot be relied upon. I must admit though, I googled both of those questions many times!

The truth is, while those articles offer great advice, you need to figure out how to tailor it towards your situation.


Whenever you read financial advice online, including my own website, it should be taken with a grain of salt. We all express our own opinion on a topic. While there are many concepts that most financial experts agree upon there are ten times as many that we all disagree upon.

Here is an example. I am a big believer in living life at every stage. We get to live only once so we should enjoy every moment. However, we need to do so in moderation. This is why I recommend that people allocate 10% of their take home pay towards themselves. This can be put towards that trip you always dreamed of, purchasing an item you always wanted and so on.

Other people may disagree with me. The 10% that is being spent on yourself should be used to pay down debt, or invest for the future. To put it simply, they are all about money efficiency and using it towards the bigger picture.

This is why there is no one size fits all blueprint. Everybody has different priorities. Some value the freedom they get from retiring early while others are content spending a little bit more now and retiring at age 65. I personally cannot fathom working 9-5 for the next 40 years which is why I am pursuing early retirement. But that is a personal choice.

One Common Theme

There is one underlying concept that stands true. Sacrifice. Those people who become millionaires or save an incredible amount of money at a young age sacrifice a lot!

They may sacrifice their social life or other things that may be important to them to attain their goals.

I mentioned earlier that 10% of my take home salary goes towards my desires. What I did not mention was that I expect to save 55% of my salary once I begin work. I am sacrificing my dream of taking that Euro trip I always wanted to enjoy life even more in the future. I recognize that it is important to grind now so I can relax later.

Final Thoughts

Sacrifice is the one common theme all of these success stories have.  Take strategies that you like from various people and tailor them towards your needs. That is the only way to create a unique blueprint. After all, personal finance is personal at the end of the day.


What sacrifices have you had to make for your financial dreams to come through?

What blueprint did you try to follow and realize that is was not tailored towards you?

21 comments… add one
  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich Oct 17, 2016, 9:54 am

    Great post, Stefan! You’re right about personal finance being personal. Love this: “We get to live only once so we should enjoy every moment. However, we need to do so in moderation.” This is such an important concept to keep in mind when dealing with life and finances. We get this one shot at life, so it should not be wasted, but it’s important not to take a total YOLO approach. We must be responsible too. Balance is the key.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:19 pm

      Exactly! I find that 90% of the people live on the extreme ends. They either save too much and do not experience life (very few) or spend all their money recklessly until they realize it is too late (majority). Balance is hard but easy if you sit down and stick to a plan.

    • Finance Solver Oct 17, 2016, 7:51 pm

      Amanda, you make some good points and I wanted to say one thing about the YOLO approach. There’s two ways of looking at it. “You only live once” so you should do every risky behavior imaginable or “you only live once” so you should try to be as safe as you possibly can. Many people use it for the former reason but wanted to provide two sides of the YOLO debate!

  • The Green Swan Oct 17, 2016, 12:19 pm

    I totally agree, personal finance has to be personal. We all have different preferences and tastes and therefore can decide how to balance living life and retirement plans. I too am sacrificing to retire early. But what is sad is when people don’t take the time to consciously determine their own path or weigh opportunity costs etc, and instead just meander through life and following the consumerism / materialistic lifestyle that is so pervasive in America.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:27 pm

      To follow up your point, when people religiously follow advice of one person. People need to realize they need to think for themselves not be dictated by somebody else.

  • Ms. Montana Oct 17, 2016, 12:38 pm

    We have worked hard to find that balance of investing to buy more freedom and enjoying the season we are in. Life moves so fast and things change. I am so glad we didn’t postpone all the good things we have enjoyed over the years. Because most of them were a one shot option. But I’m also glad we didn’t fritter away all our money on take out food and cell phones either.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:29 pm

      Anything that is a one time offer usually needs to be taken advantage of. However, you cannot say that buying this TV is a one time offer every Black Friday… that is where people get in trouble

  • Financial Panther Oct 17, 2016, 3:16 pm

    You hit the nail right on the head with the emphasis on sacrifice. In the end, personal finance basically is a single principle. Spend less than you earn. Save and invest the rest. That’s basically it.

    The common thing with that is sacrifice. How you sacrifice though … no one can tell you that. You have to decide how you want to do that on your own.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:32 pm

      Sadly the simple stuff are often the hardest to get right! There is far too much temptation in the world. Even more in first world countries.

  • Apathy Ends Oct 17, 2016, 4:47 pm

    You know we are not in the ultimate frugal category, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make sacrifices. We skip the spending on things we dont care about, and save a ton of money so what is left can be guilt free spending.

    We also sacrificed on the front end by getting college degrees and putting the time in earlier in our careers to expedite our income growth. I feel the up front work is often overlooked.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:34 pm

      Starting off is the hardest part! Once the ball is rolling it is very hard to stop.

  • Mustard Seed Money Oct 17, 2016, 7:28 pm

    I sacrificed nice cars and vacations in my 20s to be in the financial position I’m in now. While I’m incredibly grateful where I am. I wish that I had traveled while I was young and especially wish that I had done a semester overseas while in college. Other than that I’ve been pretty happy with my decisions 🙂

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 17, 2016, 7:36 pm

      Travel is one thing I plan on doing every single year! Once I hit my savings goals I will put any extra money into travel, unless it is a down year in the market. That is when the money is made!

  • Finance Solver Oct 17, 2016, 7:48 pm

    Sacrifice is correct. I actually had a post in the works that said that every decision we make comes with a cost (even something simple like choosing whether to get out of bed or not). If we get more than what we sacrifice, it’s totally worth it.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 19, 2016, 9:18 am

      That is a great way to look at it. There is always an opportunity cost.

  • Andre Albritton Oct 19, 2016, 5:46 am

    Nice post man. I agree 100% that you have to sacrifice not if you want to live comfortably later. Most people don’t but most millionaires in America are self-made. They put the hard work in early and thought smart about investing.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 19, 2016, 9:20 am

      A large percentage of the population in America has the ability to become millionaires. Everybody has just bought into the idea of consumerism.

  • Pellrider Oct 19, 2016, 11:05 am

    Personal finance is really personal. Being debt free makes me happy. Big house or expensive cars may be happiness for other people. Some of us love to have a nice walk outside and can be content.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 20, 2016, 4:32 pm

      I must admit that I want those cars and houses however I will wait until I have reached freedom. All money in excess after freedom will be splurged 😉

  • Harrisson Dawson Oct 20, 2016, 5:07 am

    Great post, Stefan! I totally agree that personal finance is quite subjective and not a one-size-fits-them-all type of situation. Personally, I put aside 30% of my income, and, like yourself, 10% goes towards desires. I tend to wait until something I like goes on sale. That’s is basically my method of putting something aside for rainy days.

    • Stefan Sharpe Oct 20, 2016, 4:33 pm

      That is a great strategy. You are far above most people and I am glad to see that you focus on yourself!

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