Remember when buying a coke was a treat and eating out for dinner was a true luxury? When you’d get a hole in your pants and your Mom would fix them - not throw the pants away? When you walked down the street and truly overweight people – especially children – were few and far between?
Yet even in these extremely difficult times, people are not starving. In fact, the United States ranks as the fattest country in the world. Starbucks is packed every morning with people buying $4-5 cups of coffee. Restaurants are in full swing most days of the week. And keeping up with the Joneses is everyone’s lifestyle. The only pants you wear that have holes or patches are designer jeans.
The bottom line is that no matter who you want to pass the (economic crisis) buck to — the government, financial institutions, insurers, big business, regulators, etc — we all should take a close look in the mirror. We are a nation that lives beyond our means. This country’s financial predicament is an equation of many factors, but the root of this equation is years of overspending and over borrowing both by our government and ourselves.
At one time there was an email circulating which depicted a man stranded on an island long enough to build a hut for shelter from Mother Nature. He was not certain when or if someone would find him. One day after he returned from retrieving his dinner, he found his home in flames. He fell to his knees in despair. Yet soon afterward, a helicopter arrived on the beach to rescue the man. When the pilot reached the man he stated, “Thank goodness we saw your rescue signal.” The moral of this story is that when one door closes and life is too much to handle, another door may just open right beside it.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity in these scary times is a wake-up call. Yeah, kind of like ice water thrown in our face while we’re sleeping - not pleasant, to say the least. But if we don’t ever hit bottom, would it even faze us? Far too often we don’t even bother trying to distinguish between our valid needs and what we just want. We spend money just because we have it in our pocket. Well, it is time to quit living as if there’s no financial tomorrow, break the bad habits and take charge of our financial future.
The most important role we play in our clients’ financial lives is to hold up a mirror to, and try to protect them from, their own worst instincts. No matter where you are in Life or how much money you make or don’t make, the only security of your financial future is you. You need to know the difference between your needs versus your wants. So how?
Budget. Budget your way to smarter spending. Know where your dollars are going every month. I know, I know. Not fun, but trust me: this could be the best thing you ever do for yourself. Our firm has hosted workshops through various universities for years and the most common positive feedback we get from the attendees is on their personal budget. A budget will allow you to see exactly what you are spending and where you are spending it (or throwing it away), as well as provide a financial roadmap for the future. How do you know if you can afford to finance a new home unless you put a pen and paper to it? A new car, TV, tractor? How do know if you are making enough money to cover your current financial obligations? How can you possibly know what kind of income you will need during retirement and how much money you will need to accumulate in order to provide you with that income? The truth is, you can’t. With a budget we can help you answer these questions. With a budget we can help you change your Life! (Click here for a list of some of the best budgeting apps available)
Do you know what the greatest asset you own is? If you stop to think about it, I bet you do: it is time. We only get it once; then it passes. Have you ever thought…‘only if I knew to start saving when I was 16 or invest a few dollars in Wal-Mart stock?’ What about Dell or Apple? Sure you have - we all have. Just don’t be thinking that same thought twenty years from now about this day in 2016. Nick Murray says it best, “The origin of all wealth is threefold: personal initiative, hard work and thrift.” It is simple: Live below your means today, so you won’t outlive your means tomorrow.