There is an old saying that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. Not too many years ago, a good friend of mine who was battling cancer told me this about her health: She said, “Had I only known, I would have taken so much better care of myself.” Why is it human nature to take for granted those things that are closest to us - whether it be our health, our family and close friends and even our success and our money?
The Journal of Financial Planning publishes a “Stat Bank” every month in their magazine. In the May, 2018 edition, there was a statistic from Bankrate that, though at first startling, left me thinking “I can see that”: 75 percent of Americans have at least on big financial regret.
We don’t know what we’ve got til it’s gone. I would be willing to bet that the majority of this percentage has something to do with not saving enough for retirement, throwing money away on stuff, or making an emotional decision about money. I would love if my job consisted of helping people plan ahead and get their future on track early. Sadly, we spend most of our time trying to work a miracle in the few years before a life event like retirement or worse, cleaning up messes from absolutely no planning.
Think about this—when do you go see a doctor? That’s right - when something is wrong. The same is true for when people go see their financial specialist – when the pain is bad enough. Why do we do this to ourselves?
A few years back we had a doctor from the Cooper Clinic is Dallas speak to a group of families we work with. He said that the reason we aren’t motivated to stay healthy is that it is ingrained into us that the primary benefit is to live longer. Well, if you aren’t close to death, that isn’t very motivating. Who really cares how long they will live until death is upon them? He said it isn’t about the number of years left that will motivate you; it is about the quality of those years. Do you want to be in a chair and unable to do the things you love to do for the last ten to fifteen years of your life? Or do you want to be dancing at your great granddaughter’s wedding, hiking, or even just going on cruises or weekend trips? Let the quality of your life motivate you to stay healthy.
Likewise, the same can be said for your finances. Why do anything different? It doesn’t affect you now. It won’t affect you for a long, long time. However, if you start to think about what quality of life you want for you and your family ten years, twenty years or fifty years down the road; it may motivate you a little more. Do you want to live the lifestyle you have today, perhaps even better? Or do you want to be forced to sell everything, move in with your children, or rely on the government to support you? Yet, like eating healthy and exercising, you probably won’t take those extra steps to secure your financial plans unless you can find your personal motivation.
After decades of changes in the world, our industry and technology, the solution to all of this still boils down to one simple thing. But before I tell you what it is, I want you to take out a pen and piece of paper and imagine your future. Write down the things that are most important to you. What do you want the future to look like for you, your family, your charities? How important are these things? Write down why they are important. What are you willing to do to protect these things? Write it down.
Now, imagine everything on that list is at risk. And in reality, it is. Your lifestyle, your family, your legacy is at risk. You have to take care and nurture them.
Are you willing to do anything? You have to be willing to do anything.
Are you ready for what you need to do?
Keep a budget.
That’s it. Most people don’t do it because, like eating healthy and exercising, they can always start tomorrow. But what if you can’t? What if it is too late?
Don’t wait. Make your list. Make your budget and keep it. Live Life on purpose not by default!