Don’t Like Where You are Financially? Change Your Behavior
When people decide that they need to eat healthier or lose weight, they know that they have to change their behavior. That’s easier said than done for most, which is why programs like Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers are so popular; because they provide a system for automatically controlling portions and nutrition. More importantly, they provide an easy way to establish weekly goals, track activities and keep score for accountability. Within a few short months, eating behaviors can be transformed and new habits formed that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Studies clearly show that our behaviors produce the results we see in our lives. If you don’t like the results, then change the behaviors. Yet, this simple concept seems to elude most people who struggle each day to make the right choices and improve their lives.
Consider for a moment the great quote from renowned life coach, Wayne Dyer, “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.” Think about it. The average adult makes more than 4,000 micro-decisions each day – many unconscious and, perhaps, inconsequential, but in the aggregate, along with all of the bigger decisions we make, they can shape our lives in very profound ways. So, the question you have to ask is “what kind of life are my daily choices creating and, if I don’t like what I see, what can I do to change the results?”
So how does this apply to personal finances and building wealth?
Think of all choices as you would interest compounding over time – each one building on the consequences of all previous decisions. The decision to upgrade to a Lexus from the Toyota Solara; the sudden urge to splurge on the latest flat screen TV; choosing to vacation in the Swiss Alps instead of Lake Tahoe; or simply stopping each day to buy a latte, may all seem innocuous and affordable; however, in the aggregate, and over a long period of time, they can seriously impact your ability to accumulate wealth or impede your spend-down plan in retirement. By reconsidering your choices, you could be saving valuable money every month that could continue to work for you.
If you were to track your daily financial choices what would you see?
- Do you spend without a budget?
- Do you go to the grocery store without a shopping list?
- Do you rationalize big or impulse purchases?
- Do you constantly monitor your investment accounts, or do you stay focused on your long-term objectives?
- Do you adhere to a clearly defined savings plan?
In personal finances, as in life in general, the difference between success and failure is usually in the choices we make each and every day – not some monumental decision that goes bad. Many of the high profile, millionaire athletes who find themselves bankrupt get there, not by making some huge investment mistake (although that is known to happen); rather they arrive there gradually by making bad choices on a daily basis.
Monitor and Measure for Best Results
Everyone likes to keep score. For most of us, when we keep score, we try to focus on improving the score. If we incorporate this natural human tendency into a plan to change our behaviors we could see vast improvements in all aspects of our lives, including our health, our relationships and in our personal finances. All it requires is:
- Recognize the behavior that needs to be changed
- Establish realistic goals (the smaller the better – think baby steps) for the results you want to achieve
- Monitor and track your activities (keep a journal; you can also download Smart Phone apps that will help you track spending.
- Reward yourself for achieving desired results
- Get a financial coach –it’s the most effective way to ensure accountability.
Written by: Advisor Websites
If you’re human you couldn’t possibly have avoided thoughts of what you might do if you had won the recent Mega Millions lottery of over $640 million. While that type of windfall is way outside of the mainstream of reality for most people, it’s not uncommon for some of us to suddenly find ourselves sitting on a more earthly windfall such as can occur through an inheritance, a settlement, or perhaps a stroke of good luck with an investment or even lottery winnings. You have no doubt read of the major failings of people, who have come into big money only to see it blown away. If you find yourself flush with fortune, here’s what you can do to avoid following in their footsteps:
Unless you want hoards of investment sales people, family, friends and scammers descending on you, you should do all that is possible to avoid publicizing your windfall. The reason is that you will need time and space to think through your future and how you want to handle your newfound wealth. While you may think you are surrounded by well-intentioned people, they only person who has your interests at heart is you.
If you tell just one person, you might as well take out a full page ad in the newspaper. This might prove difficult if you come into an inheritance, unless it was passed to you through a trust. Generally, when assets pass by trust, they avoid probate proceedings which are a matter of public record. But, if your inheritance did pass through probate, it will be just a matter of time before your phone starts ringing.
Hire a Team of Experts
Instant wealth, while it might be able to solve many problems, it can make life much more complex. With each new opportunity it brings, new found wealth can drive some people to make bad decisions that wipe out huge portions through poor tax management, bad investments, or guilt-induced generosity. Most people are not emotionally wired to make sound money decisions, which is why wealthy people surround themselves with a team of trusted, unbiased financial experts to help them avoid costly mistakes.
You will need an accountant, preferably a Certified Public Account. You will also need an attorney for tending to legal matters as well as the planning of your estate. If you don’t have anyone in your circle that you can trust to fill these roles, you should focus your efforts on finding someone who specializes in Wealth Management . A financial advisor operates under strict fiduciary rules and are mostly paid by fees, so they work in your best interests and are product neutral when it comes to recommending investments.
Many financial professionals work collaboratively with teams of experts that include attorneys, CPAs and insurance specialists. You should seek referrals and interview them to determine which one most closely reflects your values and temperament. Always check the backgrounds of any financial professional you are considering.
You will be faced with a number of decisions about how to invest your money. Depending on the size of your windfall, you may have a broad range of options open to you, some involving more risk than others. That way, should anything happen to the rest of your assets your financial security is intact. There are several ways to do this, such as investing a portion of your assets into safe government bonds and hold them to maturity. Or, invest in a *deferred annuity that generates a guaranteed rate of return that can later be converted into a guaranteed stream of income. With your financial future secured, you can invest your surplus for growth through a diversified investment portfolio.
Have a Plan for Dealing with Friends and Family
This is always the touchiest part of being a windfall recipient (and one reason why you want to avoid publicity). Depending on the size of your windfall, and the degree to which you have secured your financial future, you may have some philanthropic desires, and they may include helping your friends and family. But, it’s not unusual for windfall recipients to be “overrun” with requests even by people you haven’t seen for a long while. One way to extricate yourself from the guilt trips and awkwardness of dealing with requests is to forward them to your financial advisor who can dole out predetermined sums. It’s not at all uncommon for people of newfound wealth to put themselves on a salary controlled by their financial advisor.
Written by: Advisor Websites
*Guarantees and benefits are subject to claims-paying ability of the insurance company
The opinions expressed in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. The views expressed may not necessarily reflect those held by PlanMember Securities Corporation (PSEC). Material presented is believed to be from a reliable sources and PSEC makes no representation as to it accuracy or completeness.