Families are under pressure in so many ways today. That is not breaking news, I know. It also comes as no surprise that for many people, the biggest issue bringing pressure to their home is in the area of personal finance. Paying bills, saving for retirement, giving and being generous, have extra money for vacations and hobbies, paying for sports and attending children’s activities, and a host of other issues are causing many marriages to crumble under the weight of it all.
Growing up, I knew that money was always “tight”. You could feel the pressure mount each month. Although my parents were always hustling and trying to make ends meet, they did a great job at not making us feel as if it were an issue for us kids to worry about. But there was no hiding that it was a worry for them. My parents were (and still are) extremely hard workers. But that was about all of the training they had given us when it came to handling personal finances. Their basic philosophy, at least from my perspective, was to work hard and pray harder!
So my background and understanding of how to handle money or how to communicate about it once I got married was basically what I saw growing up: work and pray! That was it. While I am not bashing that idea or downplaying either aspect, I found out that there were other ways to handle money and order your personal finances.
Because I did not grow up knowing much about personal finances, it did not seem like a good fit for me to pursue an opportunity to work as a financial advisor. Because, quite frankly, I didn’t really have much solid advice to give! I didn’t think that the best way to sit down with a client would be to suggest they just “work hard and pray harder”. Surely they would need more than that!
But that is exactly the path that I found myself on for more than 12 years. I worked as a private wealth manager and grew to understand and share different ideas and principles to help people make wise decisions with their finances. My motto was: Helping people take the worry out of wealth management. To me, the lessons I had learned growing up gave me a deep sense of responsibility to help other people learn to deal with money in a responsible and wise way.
So while no blog article can speak to that issue by itself, I do want to share a few quick tips to help you navigate this important issue of personal finance.
4 Simple Steps
When people think about money and look to advisors for “tips and hints” they often think about that insider information that no one else has. They want the key information that will unlock their fortunes that only a few people know about. So let me give you that inside information that you’re looking for:
There is no insider information!
Instead, I believe that personal finances must be an extension of guiding principles. Principles that steer your actions and beliefs because they are always true and do not change with the times. So let’s look at just a couple of these ideas that can guide you through the complexities of personal finances and hopefully will make it utterly simple and helpful for you.
***Note: None of these ideas will appear as “ground breaking” or exciting because, well…they’re not! They are simply true for all people at all times and are as timeless as the sun. That’s why you know you can count on it being true for you today, as well.
1) Have a plan. Let’s say you want to take a trip to a state you’ve never been to before. What would you do? You’d get out your GPS, map a route, think through all that you’d need to take on the trip and then create a plan of action. It’s not rocket science. Yet, we make personal finance seem like it is. Wise planning begins with having a plan. Know where you want to end up. Set your course towards that specific location. Create a plan for how you will specifically move to get there on time. Then get going. You’d never head out of the house on a long journey without an idea of where you’re going (at least I hope not!). Be sure to have an idea and have a plan when it comes to handling your money.
2) Be the boss. Who’s in charge of your money: you or it? Obviously, the correct answer sounds like “you”. But is that true? Think about this carefully. For many people, if you were to ask them, “Where did all of your money go?”, they may not truly know! (Have you ever said this? I know I have!) Many people get to the end of the month and wonder the same thing! That’s why I have found that the “b” word is so important. No, not that one! This one: Budget. You don’t have to go crazy with it – but you better know where your money is going. In reality, it is really pretty simple. Money comes IN and money goes OUT. A budget simply helps you organize these two things. There is a lot of help out there to help you get started. A budget is a great map and part of your plan to help you get where you’d like to go. Everyone should use one.
3) Grow your mind. As I mentioned earlier, I did not grow up knowing or learning much in terms of dealing with money or personal finances. So how did I grow a successful private wealth management practice? I grew my mind. I set out to learn. That option is available to every single one of us today. It does NOT mean that you must learn or get familiar with complex financial terminology to have a strong financial future. It DOES mean that you must read books, blogs (like this one), listen to podcasts, and grow from other resources to help you take next steps. You’ll never get to where you want to go unless you grow.
4) Stay out of debt. That’s it. That’s the extent of that advice. Consider this wisdom from the bible and painful personal experiences of my past (and probably yours too). Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” It’s true. Want to free yourself and your family from the pressure that’s mounting? Start with staying out of debt.
Do you want to relieve yourself and your family of some of the pressure that is due to money (or the lack of it)? Then start with these 4 simple steps. It doesn’t take a private wealth manager or fancy degree to help you make huge process in this critical area of your life. Just some basic, timeless wisdom is all you need to change your finances and your life in a positive way!
What is your biggest challenge or need (besides “I need more money!”) today? Please comment or share your challenge or questions below. Share this on social media or send it to a friend if you think this may help.