Photo (cc) by CGehlen
If you ask me, there are few things in life better than a warm chocolate chip cookie, fresh from the oven and accompanied with a little cold milk for dunking purposes. And as far as I’m concerned, the bar-none gold standard of chocolate chip cookies is the Nestle Toll House cookie.
In fact, a few weeks ago, my wife Nina and I whipped up a batch, as we like to occasionally do.
Normally, I faithfully follow the Toll House cookie recipe to the letter, which calls for doing things in a very specific order…
- Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl
- Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Gradually beat in the flour mixture
- Add the chocolate chips
This particular time, however, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I just threw everything in the bowl at one time and had Nina beat the heck out of it with the kitchen mixer. (Or should I say, mixed the heck out of it with the kitchen beater?)
Anyway, as I pulled those cookies out of the oven, it was obvious by looking at them that something wasn’t quite right. Sure enough, as soon as I tasted one, the truth was evident. The cookies were edible, but they tasted, well, a bit off. The flavor was nothing you’d expect from a properly made Toll House chocolate chip cookie.
They tasted more like cake, and they had a very spongy consistency.
I learned a valuable lesson that day that I’m sure any good pastry chef could have told me, if I only bothered to ask: When baking, the order of the ingredients is just as important as the quantities.
The connection between baking and financial freedom
That little episode got me thinking. Believe it or not, doing things in the proper order is also extremely important when it comes to maintaining healthy personal finances.
Yep. Just as the most delicious chocolate chip cookies in the world can be baked by anyone, financial freedom can be achieved by anyone too – regardless of their annual income – as long as they take life in a proper and orderly fashion. You can bet the savviest pastry chefs know that little financial croissant too.
In fact, I firmly believe that there are four key milestones in life that, when followed in order, greatly increase the odds of achieving financial freedom regardless of one’s income. Those milestones are, in order…
- Getting a good education, either through college or via on-the-job training
- Establishing a career
Before you send me a nastygram, I understand these four milestones aren’t all givens. Many people never get married or have kids.
Yes, yes, I also realize you can be financially successful by doing these tasks out of order. So if you want to be an undisciplined cream puff and ignore my advice, by all means, go right ahead.
However, as my nifty pyramid diagram tries to illustrate, you certainly increase your odds of success when you do the tasks in the proper order because each milestone provides a foundation for those that follow.
Don’t believe me?
I’ll guarantee you that people who have trouble making ends meet on $40,000 per year have, in most cases, done at least one critical thing out of order in their recipe of life that caused them to be in that situation.
For example, perhaps they decided to have kids before they were married or completed their education, or maybe they got married before really getting their career underway, which ended up in a costly divorce due to unforeseen commitment issues. You get the idea.
Sometimes, as in the case of kids, these tasks are done out of order unintentionally. Other times, they’re simply due to a lack of patience.
Whatever the reason, the end result is often a heavy financial burden that is extremely tough to recover from.
Our lot in life is influenced by the choices we make
A big part of our financial success is based upon the decisions we make in life. Even if you understand that the biggest secret to achieving financial freedom is spending less than you earn, that may end up being completely impossible if you choose to stray from the natural order of life.
With that in mind, why would anybody ever consciously jeopardize their financial futures by “messing with the recipe” and doing things out of order?
Screwing up a bunch of cookies is one thing; you can easily toss them in the trash and make up another batch. The same thing can’t always be said regarding your finances.