Friday, February 26, 2010


February 1, 2010

It's one month into the New Year. How are you doing on your New Year's Resolutions? Have you already forgotten what you said you wanted to accomplish this year?

New Year's day I found myself stranded in Erie Pennsylvania in two feet of snow. My financial plans wrecked, and my spirit in the toilet, I thought, "how can this be happening?" This was going to be the check where I was going to... But life as always had its own plans. We can make resolutions, we can set goals, but at the end of the day LIFE will do as it chooses. This is a given. However, when there is no system, plan or goals in place, all we find ourselves doing is reacting, reacting, and digging ourselves further in the hole.

We can not stop life from happening but we can help ourselves be more prepared. AVOIDANCE IS NOT PREPARATION. I know that is the system that most of us have in place to deal with our finances but it does not work. I know it is scary to face the bills that never seem to stop coming, but how much better will you feel knowing each month that on this date this amount will be due? How much better will you feel tallying up your credit card debt and seeing what the number is versus every month paying the minimum and never understanding why the balance just doesn't seem to move anywhere? The solution IS NOT to simply ignore it and charge something else. I was angry on New Year's because my "financial plan" was wrecked. But because I had had a system in place, for once I wasn't financially wrecked. I was just really angry and so sad because I was going to be ahead of the game - make an extra payment, put money in savings, get my sweetheart a gift...none of those plans were possible. But I also didn't spend to ease the pain. I knew based on the system that I had in place, to go on an emotional spending spree would only cause me pain for much longer than just the weekend. I didn't plan on being trapped in another town, but I was prepared for it.

If one of your New Year's resolutions involved you getting your financial picture together, I invite you to take action NOW. If it wasn't on your list but you have a pile of "avoided" mail, I invite you to add it to your resolutions list. NOW is the perfect beginning, You're at the beginning of the month very close to the start of the new year. One of my clients followed through on her New Year's resolution to continue her work with me. I won't ever forget the smile on her face this week when after we opened the "avoided" mail she discovered out of 6 envelopes, 4 were reminders or statements and two were bills but both less than $50. One was going to be due the next day and had she not opened it, it would have been late so by time she faced it, there would have been late fees. After the "avoided" pile was off of her shoulders she was freed up and ready to place her monthly bills on a one month calendar. In an instant she found herself automatically making a financial plan. The habitual anxiety she faced each month "not knowing" was immediately replaced with peace of mind. She could now "see" that she was in control of her finances, something that she had never in over 50 years of her life had ever experienced. There has not been one client in three in a half years that faced their finances who did not end up with a smile on their face. Not one, no matter their financial earnings and positions. The physical money is not the point. YOU ARE. Turn and face it.

KNOWING what you have will help you have some control instead of simply being the victim to your bills and having to react over and over, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

If you have no idea where to begin, choose any one of the below items to get you started:
1. Gather your bills and write the company and amount due on a month to month calendar.
2. Keep your receipts, don't throw them away. (Ask for it, if its not given to you.) At the end of each day/week/month separate them into categories i.e. groceries, eating out, entertainment, etc. and get a monthly total for each category. At the end of the year you don't have to scramble to get your records together for the tax person. You don't have to wonder where your money went.
3. I have attached a modified version of my actual spreadsheet. Begin by using my categories: plug your numbers in and adjust/add/delete the categories that pertain to you.

4. If you try any of the 3 items listed above and you find yourself in tears and/or hyperventilating. Stop. Give me a call and I will help you take the first step (free of charge).

If I had known then what I know now, my financial situation would be so much better. But since I started facing it, I KNOW 3 years from now, as long as I keep facing it, it WILL be better. The sooner you start the better. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. So commit to taking the action right now. Try it for one month and you will have a smile on your face. The greatest thing that can help our economy in the long run will be each of us individually taking responsibility and facing our financial situations truthfully and consistently.

We can't predict the future; life has its own plans, but we CAN know where we stand in the present. When we don't know where we stand now and we simply wait to react, we have no solid foundation on which to build our future.

Don't waste more time "thinking" about it. Just pick one of the four items above and begin taking action on it TODAY.
I'd love to hear your insights, questions and/or comments on what occurred for you one day, one week, one month after following one of these action items.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.

It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

William Jennings Bryan, American Politician

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