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One Piece at a Time

A friend loaned me a Johnny Cash CD, and I found a Man in Black song that I hadn’t heard before. The song was called One Piece at a Time and it’s about a GM worker who decides to create his own retirement plan, by taking small pieces of a car out one piece at a time, so that at the end he’ll have a car for free. I wish I’d thought of that when I was still working at Nortel, having a DMS Switch or Passport in my basement might help my retirement too (but I digress).

This kind of story reminds me of the importance of the small pieces that make up the Big Plans in Life.

Whither the Pawn Broker
Johnny Cash, the Man in Black

There are two ways to get a Million Dollars into your RRSP:

  • When you turn 65 put $1 Million into your RRSP
  • Put $100 a month away starting at age 22 (I think, don’t quote me, but something like that).

All of the really big hard things to do in life take small deliberate steps and it’s those small steps that build into the entire journey.

I do have a non-financial example that really does bring this point home nicely.

A friend of mine, let’s call him Dave, who is a man who enjoys working on his house, and has done a lot of very good work on it.  One of the hardest things he had to do when he finished his basement was moving a jack post that was in the way of an area where he wanted to put his pool table.  Dave talked to a contractor and got a quote which was quite high to move the jack post, so he decided that if he was careful he could take on this job and get it done (he had help from someone who knew even more about it, I believe).

The job itself was completed with little or no excitement, and Dave got exactly what he wanted, but he also had as residue a fairly large pile of cement that he had to chip out to move the jack post.  I wondered how Dave was going to get rid of this not insignificant pile of rubble, since you aren’t supposed to put that much into your home garbage, but he found a solution which worked quite well.

Every time Dave or his wife was putting out a garbage bag, he took a handful or two of the rubble and threw it into the garbage, and in a short time, the pile of rubble was gone.

This example shows that as long as you are patient (and have the time to get the job done), One Piece at a Time is a perfectly good Financial Strategy for building savings, or reducing debt.

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