FOCUSING ON WHAT IS BEST FOR US

It’s important to mention that comparing our finances to someone else, or against some benchmark, is financially depressing and destructive.  We should focus on our situation and what’s best for us. There isn’t a magic bullet, or a one-sizefits-all solution.  Also, looks can be very deceiving. “They drive a nicer car, so they must be doing better financially!” or “They have nicer things, so I obviously don’t make enough money!” Chances are that we make inaccurate assumptions because we are unaware of their financial situation, how much they earn, or how they are spending it.  We must focus on budgeting as a process; it’s taking baby steps to finally being able to walk.  Measure success by the little things, the little victories, the fact that you were actually able to put away an extra $5 or $10 this month. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on what others have or think.  It’s the emotional excitement, the psychological well being and the fact that you are in control of your finances that has the biggest impact. As a matter of fact, a 2016 Wall Street Journal article states that research has proven, “Having more money in the bank makes people feel more financially secure, which can lead to further happiness.”  WSJ went on to suggest that even the very wealthy felt much happier with money in the bank, not their aggregate net worth on paper.  The wellness concept is growing exceedingly popular; that sense of physical, emotional and financial well-being.  Feeling better about our finances is a big part of the equation, and budgeting has been proven to improve our ability to plan and save.
If budgeting can do all of this, then why wait? Do we want to make excuses, or do we want to do something about it?

FINANCIAL VALUES

Our financial values should reflect what we think about money, how we value it, or what it can provide.  While money doesn’t have to control us or impact our happiness, it’s easier to do nothing because change can be hard or very uncomfortable. Also, if we are truly thankful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or want, many of us might be more committed to learning about good money management choices.  Unfortunately, many of us get caught up in a selfish agenda, worrying about ourselves and what we want. It can be a great exercise to write down everything that we are thankful for, such as your family, friends, food on the table, a roof over your head, a job, God, etc. While money doesn’t necessarily buy those things, it can help us realize how much more important they are to our lives. Our paycheck takes on greater importance than simply getting paid to perform a task, but a means to help the many other people in our lives.

Our lifetime earnings can amount to millions of dollars and that should translate into easily covering our expenses, being financially comfortable, and making more than enough to be financially fit.  Chances are that most of us would be just fine if we were handed one big check for everything that we were going to make over our working years.  We could conquer any financial challenges so why do we still hear stories like these?

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. 20% of Americans are counting on winning the lottery for their retirement.

MONEY AT WORK

It can be pretty amazing when we actually figure out how much money we make over a lifetime. 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, as to why we are struggling. Putting our money to work through careful planning gives us greater control over our financial futures. Many of us fail to take control, instead blaming ourselves for not making enough money: If I earned more, my financial problems would go away.  Almost everyone thinks that they should be making more than they do, or that they are underpaid.  However, very little seems to do with how much we actually make. Instead, it’s what we do with our money that matters; like making good decisions on how to spend it, and putting it to work as hard as we worked for it.  Remember, as mentioned earlier, there are only two sources of income: People at Work and Money at Work.

MONEY SKILLS

Change starts with a desire to do things differently; a commitment to learning and practicing some basic financial concepts. We must practice good money habits to truly make a positive financial change. Ironically, it really isn’t that difficult to manage our finances. It’s like tying our shoes, or brushing our teeth. It has nothing to do with how much money we make; rather, it’s what we do with what we have. We should focus on incorporating the right habits and acknowledging what we value most. Take small steps and remember that our decisions can lead to a life-long commitment of positive change. Trying to do it all at once can be very overwhelming and discouraging. Focusing on money too often can also create problems. The goods news is that changes in our behavior can fix our money problems. What we ultimately do with our money is a personal matter. However, by being engaged and committed to improving our finances, we feel measurably better about our future, attitudes, jobs, and stress levels. Financial literacy is more than just managing your checkbook–it’s learning all aspects of personal finances like budgeting, saving, and even using debt responsibly. Lacking these basic money skills can lead to poor decisions with destructive consequences. Through change, we can head down a path towards financial security. Ask yourself: “Do I feel good about my finances?” “Am I happy with the choices that I have  been making with my money?” “Is my financial plan working for me?” If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it’s time to make changes. We need to be open and honest with ourselves on a regular basis, or everything will stay the same. If we aren’t happy and feel stressed, why stay on the same course?