How Money Plays a Role in Our Lives

financial control

I see everything through a money lens.  I realize most people don’t.  The notion of excluding money from everyday thinking is unrealistic to me.  Unless we live off the grid and grow our own food, then money may be considered trivial.  In the real world, money is the medium through which we manage our standard of living.  Ignoring the role it plays in life is downright naïve.  We exchange money for everything: food, shelter, clothing, electricity, heat, transportation.  Most people shun money topics, or think it’s too boring to talk about.   Reality is, money is the undercurrent of life.  People say they don’t care about money.  They say they want to ski all day or go fishing but they still have to buy the skiing gear and fishing rods.

This post is about how money is intimately interlaced into every area of life and why it’s critical to pay attention to monetary affairs.

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Acknowledge Your Money Behavior

financial management

I’m trying to get to the root of money behaviors. This topic is becoming an annoying bug buzzing around the inside of my head.  Because I spend so much time reading and researching money issues, it’s outside of my faculties to conceive that others don’t make responsible money decisions.  I am constantly reading that more than 50% of pre-retirement workers have little or nothing saved for retirement, and I can’t wrap my mind around it.

Money scripts, just like any other psychological scripts, are clearly the driver, but it’s also about education, or the willingness to learn.  Most adults are struggling to manage their finances, and many concede that they don’t know the basics.  For young adults, there’s no formal education for personal finance, and high school graduates have no idea what to do regarding self-support.  College graduates are burdened with student loans without any idea how they’re going to manage the payments.  Many don’t know how to anticipate real-life expenses and get quickly overwhelmed.  They get blindsided by the multitude of costs, using credit cards to pay for necessities, and enter the danger zone of perpetual debt.

By not knowing the first step, or knowing how to manage all the pieces that make up a comprehensive, effective financial playbook, individuals retreat into ignorance.  That’s never good.  Those that choose not to address their financial issues too often find that eventually their money issues are running them, not the other way around.  Credit that’s not managed properly, spending money that one does not have, letting emotions control money decisions.  These are just a few.  Some money issues are so extreme that they upend a person’s life, leaving the individual with lifelong debt or substantial losses of savings.

Money Scripts

In conjunction with education, the money script of the individual deserves acknowledgement.  If you’ve read any of my previous material, I’m a huge fan of Dr. Brad Klontz, the psychologist responsible for coining the phrase.  All the education in the world will get thrown to the wind if the person possesses a destructive money script.  The money script will collide with the education, and will win in the end.  That’s because the money script is generated from subconscious beliefs.  The person may not even realize they’re displaying certain behaviors.  The human brain works that way, it’s part of survival.  We learn things that work for us and there’s always a payoff for doing what we do.

I intend to be a teacher of the elements that result in a sound financial setting.  Once the elements are part of everyday awareness, it becomes easier to process the combination working together.  Starting out may not be easy, but a strong goal with small rewards along the way will result in an increase in quality of life and overall contentment.  By chipping away at understanding one aspect at a time, it all comes together.  The sum is truly greater than the parts and financial harmony can materialize.

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Financial Planning Workshop Is A Success

financial planning

I’m conducting a personal financial planning workshop at a local bookstore.  In three sessions, I plan to provide an overview of the following aspects of financial planning: saving, spending, investing, retirement, and insurance.

The first session, this past Thursday, was a success.  A small group showed up representing all age groups.  I started with my usual introduction, explaining how each person’s mentality towards money drives their money habits.  With the following visual, I outlined the topics that, when combined, result in balanced financial management.

financial planning

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4 Super Easy Ways to Start Investing – Today

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Start Investing Now

I continue to hear that people are confused about how to start investing.  Honestly, I don’t understand such bewilderment.  If you ask me, investing has never been easier.  Maybe before the Internet, but not now.  There is so much information out there, no one should be at a loss. However, money mentalities are responsible for this.  Everyone has their priorities and if managing their money is not near the top of the list, it gets forgotten.  If someone is immersed in their career or other priorities, their money mentality takes a back seat.  Totally understandable.

Learning how to invest can be a lifetime endeavor, and a confusing one.  With the number of available investments, it can be dizzying to even attempt to understand it all.  Dizziness leads to zone-out, and ultimately, non-action.

Here are a few remedies to ensure that you are participating in the world of investments.

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Money Learning Checklist 5 – Retirement Planning

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Planning For Retirement

“I have to work after I die to pay for the funeral.”  I overheard this comment from someone that looked like time was not on his side.

What’s happening?  How are people stretched so thin that they feel they can’t even afford to die? I know, salary growth issues are depressing and wealth inequality is making headlines on an almost daily basis, however, we still live in a country where jobs and opportunities are alive and well.

For the people living paycheck to paycheck, there’s a need to closely examine why that is.  If incoming money doesn’t cover all living expenses, it’s time to make a change.  That means moving where income meets or exceeds the cost of living or an increase in income sources is needed.   Translation: better job skills in the form of education or training.

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Asset Allocation and Annuities

investment allocation

Asset Allocation

Knowing which direction to move toward is a key component of adequate financial planning.

I would like to take a break from the Learning Checklists and talk about my latest research.  Asset allocation recommendations and annuities have been my latest focus.

I don’t like relying on the first thing that I read, for two reasons.  One, I don’t always agree with the adviser and two, it can be too rigid.  Because my nose is in a financial book almost every day of the week, I like to combine all my resources and find the common denominators.  Here are several models:

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Money Learning Checklist 4 – IRAs

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An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a great way to accumulate a retirement stash.  It’s also a great way to protect asset growth and investment earnings from taxation.

I highly recommend contributing as early as possible.  IRA contributions can begin when an individual has earned income.  Therefore, it can begin with a teenager’s part-time earnings.  Visit your favorite bank or online broker and open an account if you don’t already have one.

Learn what your maximum contributions are

IRA contributions come with conditions.  There’s a maximum amount that can be contributed and it can change every year.  Know what yours is.  It’s based on your filing status, married vs. single, etc.  The next condition to reach is eligibility for a tax deduction.  Again, it depends on your filing status and whether you participate in your employer’s retirement plan.

For employees that participate in their employer’s retirement plan, a full or partial deductible contribution is still a possibility if the amount is less than the range specified for the type of filer.  You can easily find the current year’s table for the income ranges by filing status by doing an internet search or by looking in the IRS publication.  Notice that I’m not spelling it out, it’s up to you to gain some awareness.

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Money Learning Checklist 3 – Credit

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Everyone knows what credit is, right?  It’s a happy word.  Credit, in its contextual sense, has a positive connotation.  Credit connotes having credibility, right?  That’s right, I’m credible – just ask me.  Everyone is credible in their own mind.

Americans love credit and credit cards.  I think some people believe that a credit card is a magic bridge to avarice.  Isn’t it fun to go into a store and not have to look at prices, fill up your cart, and walk out with all that stuff?  Everyone wants to look great and be surrounded with nice things.  But, the big façade associated with credit cards is that once that card is swiped, you have traded your soul.  Your soul is traded for the debt that you just created.

To me, debt is a four-letter word.  Oh, wait it is a four-letter word, but I mean the bad kind.  As I took a break from writing this piece, I saw a political cartoon in the newspaper that expressed my sentiments about credit.  It’s a large image of It, staring down at a person with a caption of “A national horror: DEBT”.  “It” is the star of that gruesome clown movie that continues to break ticket sale records.  I burst into laughter when I saw the trailer.  This is what constitutes entertainment?

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