Why do We Struggle to Have Money?

By Pat Moran, AFLI

When we stop to think about how much money we make over our lifetimes, it is pretty amazing. With all that earned income, why aren’t we financially independent? As we discussed earlier, there are a lot of reasons, and lots of excuses, why we are struggling. However, it goes back to a lack of planning, because we are planning to fail!

Many of us don’t put our money to work, failing to take control of our financial lives.  One of the biggest hurdles is blaming ourselves for not making enough money. “if we earned more money, our personal and financial problems would go away!” However, in talking to many people, and looking at the stacks of research and studies on achieving financial prosperity, very little seems to do with how money we make. Instead, it’s what we do with what we make, making sound financial decisions, and putting our money to work, that has the greatest impact on happiness. We ought to be able to list a number of things to be thankful for, such as my family, my wife, friends, God, food on the table, a roof over our heads, a job, etc. that have little to do with the amount of money that we make. There are many stories throughout the media, where very wealthy people are dealing with problems just like us, or are extremely unhappy. Their problems seem to have little to do with the amount of money they make, but rather events that cause lots of unhappiness, or poor decisions.   There have been many times when we are unhappy about something, and money wasn’t the cause of the problem. It becomes easy to blame everything on financial shortcomings due to the way we were raised, our backgrounds, gender, or others, but mostly it was our decisions that created the problems. Having a plan, understanding our finances, and practicing good financial habits allows us to manage our lifetimes earnings for greater financial success, and less stress.

Regardless of your income, we can make our money stretch further if you can properly plan, and avoid mistakes. At the very least, follow a few of the principles that we have outlined throughout this booklet, and you will head in a positive direction. As you practice better habits, you will realize that personal finance becomes less difficult, and something that you do regularly, like tying your shoes or brushing your teeth. We should realize that our lifetime earnings are our greatest financial asset, the ability to make money is something that everyone can do. When you stop and think about what can amount to millions of dollars, we should easily have our expenses covered, be financially comfortable, and retire easily, but we don’t. However, chances are that if most people were handed a check for what they would earn over their workings careers, they could probably plan and solve for the many financial hurdles they have during their lives.  Or can we, because we have heard the many stories:

78% of NFL & 60% of NBA players go bankrupt 5 years after they retire according to Sport Illustrated.

  • Numerous movie stars and famous athletes have gone broke like Mike Tyson, and his estimated $ 300 million of earnings, Nicolas Cage, who made over $ 40 million in 2009 alone, or Wesley Snipes and his 3 years of tax evasion.
  • 70% of lotteries winners go bankrupt

There are lots of reasons for these failures, such as pressure from family and friends for money, trusting the wrong people, their ego’s get in the way from needing advice, or they have all the answers. However, probably the biggest (2) problems are shared by many of us, not planning for the future, and not practicing good financial skills. As talented as an actor, or athlete might be, they don’t watch their budgets, or have any wealth management skills. Lottery winners are given a huge windfall, but don’t know the first thing about managing the money. As we plan for our lifetime’s financial needs, keep a few things in mind:

  • We are first during our lifetime of earnings, meaning that we put away something first, then tackle our bills and expenses. Whether it’s getting paid every week, every 2 weeks, once a month, or when we close a deal doesn’t matter. We often tackle bill first, and hopefully save something from the money that is hopefully left over. Hopefully becomes a mouthful because usually there isn’t anything left over, so we never save or have extra money. However, now we are saving something first, and what’s hopefully left over provides spending or savings flexibility.
  • We usually can make more money by spending less, saving more. Don’t bank on future expectations, promises, dreams, or possibilities as money to spend, because when the check actually clears the bank, that is the money you should count on.
  • Many millionaires have shared stories about how they became so successful, which was hard work, save always, and LIVE BELOW OUR MEANS!
  • Make rules for your spending and stick with it, such as, “we are only eating out once a week,” “We won’t spend more than $ 10,000 on a car,” “We will save $ 400 per month” Stick to your plan, and personal affirmations can also reinforce good habits, such as “I’m on my way to a great retirement,” “I feel good about saving!”
  • Realize that every financial choice, has a cost, “If I buy this expensive car, I need to work 6 years to pay it off,” “Or by spending this much money means that I can’t make that extra payment on the house, or throw in extra money towards that college savings fund.”
  • When you arrive at the place that makes you feel happy and financially comfortable, STAY THERE! For many people, this is the place they want to be, don’t keep strecthing.
  • Finally, start saving as early as possible, and the most effective financial planning tool is a Unless you know where you are spending your money, and how much, you can’t begin to form the foundation to personal financial success.

Putting our money to work through careful planning, gives us greater control over our financial futures. Budgeting helps to create our spending plan, so that our money can work as hard as we do for it. It’s this plan that can allow us to fulfill a lifelong benefit of financial well-being.

Treatment for your Financial Pains

I have spent a good portion of my life in the hospital. Though the reasons as to why may vary, one thing that seems to remain consistent is the care from doctors and nurses. It always amazes me to think that there are women and men out there staying up all night to care for the sick and those in recovery, and they always seem on the top of their game. Unfortunately, another thing that I find consistent with those doctors and nurses is a lack of financial knowledge. They work so hard for their degrees, licenses, or specialties, but have been taught very little when it comes to managing their money. Admittedly, this is a smart group of people, who give tirelessly to improving the quality of people’s health, so I have special appreciation for everything that they. Yet, when I’ve talked to many of these people and they find out that I work in financial services, they quickly ask me questions regarding their finances. They are like most people who work hard to pay their bills, put food on the table, and to keep a roof over their family’s heads, but are so confused or overwhelmed when it comes to making good decisions with their money. Why? Because they have never been taught, don’t know what to do or even how pull together a meaningful financial game plan. It amazing that because we feel that doctors make a lot of money, or nurses are paid well, that they are immune to financial stress. However, it’s just like an illness that makes people sick, destroys relationships, and never seems to have a cure! But, this is where we can make a real difference and do our part to help them!

AFLI was built to help educate people about their finances, giving them the knowledge and skills to take control of their financial lives. Our mission is to reduce financial stress, and to provide unbiased financial education. Feel free to visit of website at aflinstitute.org, or reach out to me, Pat Moran @ (602) 571-1035.

Whether you are a doctor, nurse, tech, or any of a number of other jobs, you help others so much, so let us help you!

The Year of the Dog and Financial Wellness in 2018

How does the year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac Calendar, and financial wellness fit together?

A dog usually signifies happiness, lasting memories, a faithful companion that will always be there to give you love. Ironically, The Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac, has a different interpretation, implying that you will experience more ups and downs than usual. It cautions not to be overly nervous, because you can implement changes to reduce negative outcomes, such as pulling together a plan to avoid potential problems. In addition, it discusses that people, and their loved ones, will be more prone to accidents in their lives (incidentally, my daughter just cracked her hip while playing soccer). Finally, it stresses that people with businesses need to be prepared, taking things into their hands rather than putting it into the hands of CHANCE or FATE! Unfortunately, most of us have apathy, choosing to do nothing, make a litany of excuses, or just procrastinating rather than doing something about it. Like the year of the dog mentions, we have the power to take action, or suffer the consequences!

This seems like a perfect endorsement for American Financial Literacy Institute’s mission to promoting positive financial changes, empowering people to feel better about making decisions with their money. Our hope is that we can, while reducing stress, increasing productivity, and impacting personal well-being. Financial turmoil ruins marriages, relationships, and destroys families. Also, studies are suggesting that companies are losing as much as $450 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, workplace distractions, stress-related medical costs and employee absences due to concerns over money. With the enormous negative impact that financial stress was costing companies and people’s well-being, and that so many people were entering the workplace financially uneducated, AFLI found that the best place to start teaching money management was in the workplace. In fact, a Better Quality of Life Financial Consulting report indicated that over 87% of employees desire financial education and access to professional help. We learned quickly from our workshops for many companies and municipalities such as Coconino and Yavapai Counties, that our goal was delivering a program and experience that provides unbiased financial education, informative content and materials, and access to professional guidance and coaching. Unfortunately, many companies feel that offering a benefits program, or a possible 401k is their solution to helping employees with financial education. We also realized that many employers, management, H.R. directors have enough on their plates already, so saddling them with pulling together a financial wellness initiative is just too much to bare. However, our approach had to be so much more than just addressing a current benefits enrollment or what investment option people should chose in their retirement savings plan. For example, a 2017 CNBC study found that over 81% have no idea what to save for retirement, or Forbes discussing that over half of 55-year-old Americans have no retirement savings at all! Regrettably, most people don’t have any feel for what they should be doing with their money, or pulling together a game plan.

AFLI is on a mission to help people make money decisions that are in their best interests, discussing a comprehensive program from the basics of understanding your money, solving the insurance maze, investing 101, and the fundamentals of retirement and estate planning. It isn’t simply teaching about how to manage your checkbook, but promotes habits that will allow individuals to realize their financial goals, protect against unforeseen events, and create a strong financial foundation. As a matter of fact, financial education is a benefit that can have a lifelong impact on employees. In a 2013 ING benefits study, over 72% of employees experienced reduced financial stress by participating in an employer-based financial wellness program.

Like the Year of the Dog, life will have its ups and downs. You will have financial challenges that you can simply let happen, or you can take action to change the outcome. With some knowledge and proper planning, many people could eliminate many money woes by simply taking action. AFLI is doing that by educating people and getting them to feel good about the decisions they are making with their money. Fortunately, AFLI has already done most of the heavy lifting, and partners with your company to implement an educational program that teaches your employees effective money management skills. We work to make a positive impact on your employees’ well-being. It is guided by a very simple belief that what’s good for your employees is good for business! After all, there is no reason that the dog has to bite, when a little bit of training can make a world of difference!

AFLI works with various companies all around Coconino and Yavapai county and like the dog we are extremely loyal to our clients. Unfortunately people these days seem to be content with not knowing, the “if I don’t think about it it can’t hurt me” mentality. Because of that there are hundreds of instances where people are ruined financially due to an accident or a health related incident, and they could have been easily avoided had they had proper education about their financial options. If you can teach an old dog new tricks, you can teach your employees how to be smart with their finances and their future.

Have You Ever Heard of the DRIP Savings Plan?

Putting money in the stock market has traditionally been a great way to grow your money over the long term. There are many different options to consider when investing from setting up a brokerage account, fee-based money management, using mutual funds and ETF’s, and numerous other products. Many of these programs allow parents to help save for college, and also offer different ways to structure those college savings accounts. There’s the 529 plan, which in Arizona is sponsored by Fidelity, Uniform Gift to Minors (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minor (UTMA), which are basically very similar. The only difference is that the UTMA can hold virtually any type of investment including real estate, unlike the UGMA. While assets made into these accounts are irrevocable (they belong to the child), parents have control up to 21 years old. Remember that these accounts can affect financial aid because the assets are considered in the name of the child and can count more heavily against the availability of aid.

While the account structures discussed previously make-up a large number of the college savings for kids, I feel that there is another often overlooked program, Dividend Reinvestment Plans. Many years ago. Whether it’s for college or to get started for yourself, you can purchase 1 share or a few shares of stock directly through a company like Coca Cola or Johnson & Johnson, and then get enrolled in the reinvestment program. You can also do this through brokerage accounts, or services like Computershare.com or DirectInvesting.com, but make sure that you understand any possible fees. The great news was that any time the company paid a dividend you were able to have those automatically reinvested into more shares of stock. Additionally, you can add on a consistent monthly basis, or anytime for that matter, with smaller dollar amounts. I realize that this is a “set it and forget” approach to investing which can have its ups and downs, but this is also a great way to buy good, dividend paying stocks and let the market work in your favor over the long term. Most importantly, you will be surprised how much money you can build by adding and compounding.  Another thing that proved very useful was that we got our kids involved by having them pick a company that they liked, my son wanted Nike and my daughter chose Johnson & Johnson, purchasing it and enrolling in the reinvestment program. It was a great way to explain how stocks work, and they have fun tracking it. As parents we need to take an active role in teaching our kids about finances. You also get statements with your accounts, so it is easy to track your results. With our kids, the statements are additional teaching tool as well.

When setting-up the account, you have rules to follow for a minor. You can set-up a joint account and manage the account until the child is an adult. What social security number determines who is responsible for any taxes. With children, they are usually in a very low tax bracket, so there usually isn’t much. Also, parents can use the child tax credit to help further offset possible taxes when claiming kids under 17-year-old as a dependent. For college purposes, a DRIP account in joint account registrations has the same eligibility requirements, an account in a child’s name counts heavier against financial aid formulas, while parental assets are counted less against college aid. Finally, you can encourage grandparents, other family members, etc. to put money into these stock accounts to help them accumulate more shares.

Setting up a Dividend Reinvestment stock plan can be another great way to save for you, your kids, or even give stock as a gift (giftastock.com). High quality, dividend paying stocks are a big portion of the Standard’s and Poor’s (S&P 500) index, and often comprise companies that we know and are established. It can be a great teaching tool, and a fun way to start investing that usually is very affordable. 

  • Mr. Moran is a managing partner for American Financial Literacy Institute (AFLI), an educational financial service company, and managing partner with Moran, an investment planning firm. Pat has 30 years of investment planning experience and can be reached at (602) 571-1035 or visit aflinstitute.org for more information. 


I’m really excited about our college planning special report. In this report, we talk about some things that are really important when planning for college such as having an open dialogue with your son or daughter, different types of federal loans that you could potentially participate in, tips for to apply to colleges successfully, and how to reduce costs. What are the different things you need to plan for in the way of finances that go well beyond just paying for college but are also part of the college experience. In this report we do a great job of laying the foundation so that you and your kids can plan for college successfully and make sure that everyone is on the same page.