April 28, 2016
I spend a lot of time helping people work out a plan for overcoming a financial challenge. Quite often the bulk of my work is in getting them into the right frame of mind. Financial problems are so stressful it is completely reasonable to feel anxious or depressed. But the first step in working your way out of a financial fix is to convince yourself you control your future and you have the ability to make it a great future.
My best advice for anyone facing a financial challenge is to give yourself the gift of a positive point of view. Commit to these three beliefs and you can achieve anything:
• I Can. Lasting wealth is built on a foundation of confidence that empowers you to control your financial destiny. It may be natural to feel defeated when you’re staring at a statement showing all the credit card debt you owe, or when you realize how much it will take to save up for a 20 percent home down payment. That’s where framing your challenge with “I Can” will empower you. Instead of thinking “How will I ever get my credit card bills paid off,” switch your inner dialogue to “I can make progress every month by spending only on needs, not wants.” And “I can make progress by paying more than the minimum balance due each month.”
• I Am. Power attracts money and powerlessness repels money. A big step in setting your mind to build lasting wealth is to embrace the power that is within you to create the future you deserve. “I am drowning in student loan debt” is not a sign of power. “I am going to make timely payments and be out of debt in 10 years” is your power move.
• I Do. Catch yourself every time there is a financial issue and you find yourself thinking “I don’t understand” or “I don’t think I will ever be able to do that.” When those negative thoughts invade, identify what the problem is. For example, if you are confused by the investment options in your retirement plan, rather than be anxious that you “don’t” understand, commit to spending an hour a week for two or three weeks reading up on the basics of retirement saving. I guarantee you will soon be saying “I do understand what I need to do to.” And you will be on the road to building lasting wealth.
Answer Yes or No to the follow statements.
I pay all my credit card bills in full each month.
I have an eight-month emergency savings fund separate from my checking or other bank accounts.
The car I am driving was paid for with cash, or a loan that was no more than three years, and I sure didn’t lease!
I am contributing at least 10% of my gross salary to a retirement plan at work, or I am saving at least that much in an IRA and/or regular taxable account.
I have a long-term asset allocation plan for my retirement investments, and once a year I check to see if I need to do any rebalancing to stay on target with my allocation goals.
I have term life insurance to provide protection to those who are dependent on my income.
I have a will, a trust, an advance directive (living will), and have appointed someone to be my health care proxy.
So how did you do?
If you answered yes to every item, congratulations. If you are working on improving on a few items, I say congratulations as well.
As long as you are comitted to truly creating financial security, I applaud you. If that means you are paying down your credit card balances, or are building up your emergency fun with automated payments, that’s more than fine. You are on your way!
But if you found yourself saying No to any of those questions, and you’re not working on moving to Yes, then I want you to stand in your truth. No matter how good you feel, you have some work to do before you can honestly know what you are on solid financial ground.