The marketer’s guide to personal finance

Even in the web 2.0 world, marketers need money. We need money to create remarkable products and to tell stories that spread. We need it to hire the best people and most of all, to stick it out until our ideas spread.

Which is why all but the largest companies need to learn a key lesson of personal finance.

This chart shows what happens to two people. The smart person, we’ll call him Gallant, manages to save $100 a month for five years.

The other one, we’ll call him Doofus, spends $100 more than he has every month.

After five years, Gallant has almost $7,000 in the bank. Even with only 5% interest, he’s building an asset that keeps him out of trouble with his mother-in-law and gives him the freedom to invest in the next part of his business.

The same period of time, Doofus has used his credit cards to finance his debt of $100 a month. That tiny nut has now added up to about $13,000 in 24% credit card debt. And every single month it gets a lot bigger.

If this isn’t interesting to you, consider the company that spends $10,000 or $100,000 extra every month.

A lot of organizations decide to skip the rice and beans and studio apartment step. They decide to "go big or stay home." More often than not, they end up going home.

I spent many years window shopping restaurant menus and driving all night to get to meetings where the plane cost just a bit too much. I thought at the time that I had no choice, but now I realize that I could have borrowed money on my credit cards and lived a little easier. I’m glad I didn’t.

When I talk to people who want to become marketers, I almost always tell them to go start something and go market something. The same advice for 15 year olds and seniors. Turning off the TV and building a Cafe Press store is not only free, but it starts to build a professional-skills asset for the long haul. Pay as much as you need to for things that matter, and as little as you can for things that don’t. And never borrow money to pay for something that goes down in value.