A Man is Not a Financial Plan

February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

You are a sweetheart

February and the celebration of Valentine’s Day always seems to me to be a good time to talk the importance of loving yourself enough to take care of your money.  Studies find that if you have confidence in yourself, if you think you are worth the effort, you WILL take care of your money. And I want you to do that, to believe you can do this and then to DO IT.

To that end I want to remind you that ‘A man is not a financial plan.’ This is a trademark phrase of the Women’s Institute of Financial Education, WIFE. We say this to make a point, to urge you to care for yourself as you do for others, to take responsibility even if this is an area in which you have little knowledge or familiarity. It is not said to scold or nag you, or to make you feel guilty.

It is said because it is true. People are valuable as human beings and not for their money. You are important because of who you are and not for what you can do for someone else. It is true in another key way: your money is your responsibility.

What this does not mean is that you have to shoulder all the responsibilities of the finances by yourself if you are blessed to have a partner. But neither should you do nothing and ignore it all.

So what should you do? If you’re married, talk about money together. Because it’s your money, decide on a money plan that fits both of your lives.

Don’t wait until some special time in the future. Don’t avoid this as if it is painful. You can learn this. It may need to be explained differently than you are presently hearing it. But you can learn what you need to know to be in control of your money.

Make a budget. Or, check on the budget and make sure things are going as planned. If you DON’T have a budget, make one. They are a delight as they help you control the fun and future plans. Budgets are GOOD.

Talk about retirement together. Retirement planning is typically the biggest part of creating your money map or financial plan. What lifestyle were you anticipating once you retire? How much income will that lifestyle require? How much is saved presently and at what rate are you saving? How much more might you need to save to achieve your goal? At what age do you want to stop working? What about your spouse? They may want to keep working? Will you be moving? Lots of things to work through so that your plan is specific to YOU and realistic.

Take responsibility for a portion of the money tasks. Pay certain bills, make calls or do the internet investigation needed for your investment accounts. Talk together about the whole picture but personally take a role in your money life.

Men are amazing and wonderful. But they are not alive only to give you money and act as a wallets for your spending pleasure. They are people to love and respect and they deserve intelligent partners who handle adult responsibilities adorably.

Get your free ‘A Man is Not a Financial Plan’ bumper sticker at http://www.wife.org/ CR9798

 

Let’s review!

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Let’s review Marion’s Ten Commandments of Finance:

 1.)  Money doesn’t equal happiness

2.)    It’s in your hands

3.)    Don’t disrespect yourself

4.)    Don’t disrespect your family

5.)    Don’t let others disrespect you

6.)    Don’t discount emotions

7.)    Expect the unexpected

8.)  Ignore the Jones

9.)    Practice charity

10.) Let it go

 Money matters. It matters substantially and its use in your life demonstrates your character. Wrap your brain around your money. Take control without being controlling. 

 I would remind you to encourage each other and consider each other all the while minding our own freaking business and working to improve your understanding of your life and money.

 This learning about life and finances is a process. We won’t ever be entirely perfect in every area of any subject, including money.. We will always be learning, grappling, growing.  The only way that it will be better tomorrow is because of your actions today! Wrestle your money to the ground, baby! Get things under control. Learn to love a budget. Do it!

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment X Letting Go

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

10) Let it go

 Once you have done everything you can,  you can’t do anymore. Please be at peace knowing you are only responsible for your piece of the Universe, not any other portion. As you grow wiser, you will spend your life tweaking elements and characteristics of the good you know to do. 

 You can’t regret, look back or beat yourself up. Life is full of surprises and some of them really stink. You knew less in the past when confronted with those options than you know now, so please forgive yourself.

 If things go swimmingly for you, you shouldn’t think you are better, smarter or wiser than others around you. Nor should you think you are a dolt and everyone else has it together.

 Sometimes it was because you were careful, but sometimes repeated job losses, divorce or illness have nothing to do with us, or our good, or bad, planning. Winning the lottery, an inheritance or a medical settlement can be like rain or sunshine. What now, that’s really more important. Here, in this place in your life, with stuff ‘under the bridge’ things yet to come in your future, what are you going to do in the present?

The Ten Commandments of Finance- Commandment 9 – Charity

June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

9.)  Practice charity– Your finances may be in your hands but life is not all about you.

As I have said before, you need to be the master of your freaking domain, of where your money goes. You need to know where all your pennies and dollars are headed. But an essential place for them is into the hands of others. You need to practice charity.

Why? Cause life’s not all our you or me; because the difficulties of others puts our life in perspective; because what goes around comes around; because  how you spend your money is a direct reflection on what you value.

What DO you value?

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment VIII Forget the Jones’

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

8.)  Ignore the Jones

 Peer pressure is not simply a problem for kids.  Grown-ups also succumb to it. Be it in the brands they think they must own, or vacations or even how they invest their money.

 If you hang around people who have different values about money or who make considerably more money than you, you may feel upset about your life and chosen priorities; that shiny truck in your neighbor’s yard, the vacations . You really can’t know how much debt they have or the financial situation in their life simply based on external appearances.

 Do you remember the commercial  – Lending Tree-loan services company

Stanley Johnson, who brags about his big house, his new car and how “I even belong to the local golf club. How do I do it?” he continues with a big, dumb smile, “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.” Lowering his voice, but still smiling, he adds, “I can barely pay my finance charges.” The smile doesn’t leave his face as he drives a riding lawn mower, saying, “Somebody help me.”…

Recognize the potentially bad influence others may have on your spending and your attitudes pertaining to your life and your satisfaction.

 But also consider this: You might be a stinky influence on others. You may spend a lot when others are trying to be more frugal. You may brag about how easy finances are for your family and what a great job you have when others are struggling. Do a little self-evaluation and recognize the potential trouble or unintended pain you may cause to those you love, chickadee.

 And recognize that the influence you have includes the messages you are sending to your kids. Study after study show that if you make shopping your hobby you will teach kids to spend more. How do you spend your time with those babies of yours…? Do you encourage the hobby of shopping in them?

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment VII Expect the Unexpected

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

7.)  Expect the unexpected

 Things change. Be it bumps in the road with your plan. You’ve seen enough of life and had enough experience to realize that your very good plan of using this particular check go towards paying down the credit card may get sidelined. Maybe the car and the refrigerator break or your daughter needs special sports paraphernalia tomorrow and forgot to mention it.

 Eventually, if you persist in doing good, the money will go to pay down debt and you will have more money saved for retirement. Don’t be too quickly discouraged.

 Sometimes the fork in the road may be an entirely new road, a new way of thinking about mortgages or investments, as new instruments are developed. You don’t want to assume new things aren’t bad because they are ‘new fangled.’  Cars , computers and texting were new for someone.  Instruments you, or your parents, didn’t know about previously doesn’t automatically make them bad.

 Learn what you need to know, be open, concerning the new things so you can have options about different ways to save for retirement or get a mortgage.

 The lesson here? Be flexible and expect the unexpected.

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment VI Don’t Discount Emotions

June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

6.)  Don’t discount emotions

 We already talked about money and happiness but there is also the quirky stuff about money. 

 We are ourselves and that means we are all different. Our natures may make us born savers or spenders.

 Then there are emotions and how we choose to handle stress or celebratory joy. Some of us let emotions control us as we are not naturally reflective. Examples might be hoarding when are fearful or spending money when we’re angry, Some people give everything away when they feel exuberant. 

 Perhaps spending isn’t the problem. Maybe you are intolerant if your judgment or explanation are questioned; maybe you go crazy if you can’t manage the finances a certain way.

 Is your quirkiness adorable or is it causing terrible trouble? What are you doing, chickie? What’s behind that overreaction…? What are you really trying to control?

 Are you spending money because you are totally living in denial and don’t care that you haven’t got the money. Are you entitled and believe that you ‘work hard and deserve’ this trip, this couch, this outfit?

 Are you shopping to feel loved or to get your endorphins going? You probably know about the endorphins, the studies that have been done that show how shopping effects the brains of some people giving them a sense of happiness?

 Sit yourself down and face the reality that is your present life. If there have been disappointments, crushing despair, love lost, this is all temporary. Tomorrow will be a much brighter day, especially if you take control of your finances and don’t add to the problem with out-of-control emotions or spending.

 And if it’s any help keep this easy-to-remember tidbit in mind:

Future Value of MONEY– Just add a zero- When you are thinking of buying an item, perhaps one you are trying to talk yourself out of, wouldn’t it be great to know how much you might have saved if you had socked that money away and saved it? What might that money be worth 30 years from now at earning 8% interest? Just add a zero to the cost of the item!

 So, you want a new computer and it’ll be $1200. You don’t really need the computer but you have the money…According to this money estimate, If you saved that $1200 for 30 years and earned 8% you’d have $12,000.

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment V

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

5.)  Don’t let others disrespect you – demand helpful advisors

 When you have an advisor you have a helper. My clients have ready access to all this information because I help them learn how to be in control of their money. From budgets to tougher emotional decisions, from names of great accountants to wonderful attorneys, whatever I can do is done for a bright and well-planned financial future.

 Do you know how many folks I work with who tell me that they have no idea what’s going on with their money because their present person doesn’t speak with language or they never see them.

 Don’t let advisors who are supposedly there to help, disrespect you instead. If you don’t know what the heck they are saying what are you doing business there? We are all different so there are CPAs, attorneys and financial advisors for every type of person. Advocate for yourself! Find the advisor that speaks to YOU! Insist on it!

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment IV

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

4.)  Don’t disrespect your family-partner, teach your kids, help your family, say no

 As I said earlier in the bit about don’t disrespect yourself – with your honeybunch- don’t YOU be the control freak. You make the most money so you act like alone in financial decisions. Don’t do that. Have regular talks. I have had partners come in and use me as umpire and coach when they need to have a sensitive discussion and get my take on how to work out a touchy topic. If the problem is deeper, like in the case of Beth and her husband, I suggest a counselor to figure out priorities and to do some deeper work.

 Money is more than just finance.  Here’s a story  of how n can help: John and Mary came into my office. These are not their names. Mary had assets from an earlier relationship and the resultant quagmire with the new family and the financial drain of the assets were causing trouble in this new union. Mary and Jon kind of already new what needed to happen but Mary didn’t want to do what she kind of knew needed to be done. It was an emotional talk and I encouraged Jon to help her in many other ways so that this decision could be more manageable. But money and emotions sometimes are all twisted up.

 Maybe in your situation it could be that grandparents give kids more goodies than your partner likes and that brings up who’s in charge…

 Speaking of kids, what are you doing to teach the kids about money? When they are young how much do you buy for them? What do they earn themselves? Are you giving them your retirement money so they can go to college for free? At 35 do they buy the newest electronics and cars/ trucks but can’t buy food and oil? And since there are innocent grandkids involved do you become part of their financial equation filling in their budget gaps- which they now rely on since they know they can count on mommy and daddy to provide…?

 What about helping family: loans, their repayment and expectations- if you give certain family members money and it’s a recurrent problem, get them in a credit counseling program and get a third party to help them learn how to manage and prioritize their finances.  And then  be brave and strong and stop ‘helping’.

The Ten Commandments of Finance: Commandment II

May 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

2.)    It’s in your hands – I don’t care what you didn’t learn. And I know all about being raised by wolves. But here we are in the Land of TODAY. What are we planning on doing about things in the here and now.

You must take responsibility for your life, for your happiness and for your money.  Please don’t let me hear that this is ‘too hard for you.’   Dive in and dig deep.  What would you tell your daughter if she told you, ‘finance and learning about money is hard; I don’t really like it?’  Perhaps you’d advise her that she needn’t worry, ‘You’ll get a prince and he will take care of all the hard things…’

The First thing you should know- the most basic thing is: Know where your money goes.  How much do you bring home each pay period or month or year.  Knowing where you money goes is NOT a budget.

A BUDGET, from the French word for PURSE, how awesome is that?!!!! Is a numerical representation of your action plan. It’s the numbers that goes with the dreams of your life and future!  The story might be: I want the freedom to take a job that I really love because I have less debt and more liberty! Make paying off debt part of your plan, your numerical story, your budget.  A budget has what you pay in rent or mortgage, debt repayment and’ living.’  How much goes to investments?

You should be very clear, you should be able to tell me right now- don’t, but you should know!- what percentage of your money goes to various categories. If you don’t know, that’s fine for NOW. We all star somewhere. But by next week, you need to KNOW.

What are some standard figures for these categories? You can do an online search or email me and I can get you something I use, but there are many ways to organize this depending on YOUR brain and your most comfortable tools. Just be a grown-up and do this.

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