I purpose you the following ten “Easy” Steps To Financial Success
- Goals are important
If goals weren’t important why did everyone go out and buy a GPS for their car? If goals weren’t important, why do certain athletes make more than others. The truth is we need goals; a direction in which to aim ourselves forward. Think about your goals, this year, five years, ten years and beyond. Invest the time, it’s worth it.
- Protect yourself from the stupidity of others
Everyone has a story; friends, colleagues, the media and your odd Uncle Ned who supposedly has millions buried somewhere in the piles of forty year old National Geographic magazines in his basement. Employ the grain of salt mantra. Allow everyone their story and don’t think that their story is yours to buy into. I know someone who has been touting a bio-tech stock that is “guaranteed” to make a fortune, as soon as they get their products through the FDA testing. People will be “lined up around the block” that’s what kind of a breakthrough it will be. Sounds tempting? Sure, I can go and buy thousands of shares of stock at the price of $1.23/share. Ok, so this conversation started around 5 years ago when the stock was $8.15. Any day now…..
- Be willing to give up potential return for short-term needs
Of course, with the stock market rising, investors come out of their foxholes and start tossing money into the market with reckless abandon. The idea of leaving cash on the sidelines is abhorrent, “Look at all the money I am losing! There’s no return in cash!” While that might be so, short-term money and emergency funds should not be invested in the stock market, regardless of the incredible heights it ‘might’ reach. Rational thinking needs to supplant the euphoria of stock market gains; prudent people do not gamble with their short-term savings and emergency funds.
- Invest in Stocks if you can live without immediate gratification
During the recession, the media screams about the ills of investing in stocks and that it was a surefire way of losing all your money. After all, during the recession, stock prices fell significantly. For those who are well-diversified and didn’t sell at the bottom of the downturn, it’s ok to open your statements now-you survived. Expecting a stock to rise because you own it is as silly a notion as believing that we will never have another recession. Equities/Stocks are meant to be long-term investments (regardless of what day traders tell you) and therefore, when you buy, be prepared to wait. And by the way, long-term does not mean six months.
- Understand your money attitudes
Our actions surrounding money, whether we are spenders, savers, avoiders or fear-based, come from somewhere. It’s no accident. Understand that your attitudes determine your behaviors around money. If you can’t keep a dollar in your pocket or the only way to get you to part with a nickel is to pry it from your cold dead hand, the foundation comes from your money history. Think about it-understand it and measure whether your money history is helping your success or speeding your way to failure.
- Invest time and energy discussing your MUSTS
Yes, people love to talk about the stock they bought at $8 per share that’s now trading at $642, or how they can’t retire because their retirement plan was decimated in the recession. But besides that, people don’t talk about their money and their values. Invest the time to discuss with the stakeholders in your life what is most important to you and decide on the best way to get there. Without buy in, the chances of success are remote. Share your values and decide what MUST happen for you to feel satisfied with your financial life.
- Know your numbers
Too many people are disconnected from their finances, beyond paying their bills or gathering data for their CPA’s. It might be due to a lack of interest or lack of time or fear of finding out that you’re in deep trouble. Regardless, know where you stand; what you make, spend, your debts, your net worth and monitor your numbers actively.
- Insure big risks
Examine the risks in your life and insure them appropriately. For example, if you are younger, your biggest risk is morbidity and therefore, disability insurance should be considered. If you have young children and a single earner household, life insurance is probably very important. Measure the risk, price out the options, work with a professional and cover the really big risks.
- Pay yourself first
The first payment each paycheck should be to yourself; your savings, retirement plan, investment account etc. Most people pay their bills first and are happy to save whatever is left over; the only problem is, there’s never anything left over.
- Spend less than you earn.
Sounds simple, but how many people spend more than they make and live beyond their means. The only way this works is if you earn more and more each year to be able to maintain your lifestyle, otherwise, it is a formula for disaster.