Have You Hugged Your Money Recently?

The brokerage statements are piling up on the piano.  The bank statements, if you still get them by mail are over in that basket, unopened, and if you get them digitally, you haven’t even opened the email informing you that they are available. Yes, I know you say, I check my balance a couple times a day, balances are good, but it doesn’t have enough money management mojo.

Yes, you’ll attend to your money right after you come back from vacation.  But of course, when you get back from vacation you’ll find yourself right back in the swing of things at work, and so it’ll have to wait until after Hattie’s wedding.   Oh, and right after Hattie’s wedding, it’s your group’s retreat, and well, let’s just wait until after that.   Then you have to get Charlotte to college, and well, you won’t have time to do anything while you get her settled.  In the middle of everything, you air conditioner goes out and you have to deal with that, and then it’s the holiday season, you know how hectic that is… Will there ever be anytime available to look after your money? 

Well, it seems like a lot of time is passing through your hands, and you are getting a lot done, just not a lot that has to do with your money except when it comes to spending it.  Why does this feeling of inertia overtake you when it comes to your money?  Why do you feel discomfort when you think about dealing with it?  Does pretending that your financial matters don’t exist provide some relief?  Because they do exist, and they won’t take care of themselves. Realize that by doing nothing you are actually making a choice to be managed or damaged by your money.

We spend a lot of hours in our businesses or careers earning our money, and often much less time learning how to manage it.   Why?  It won’t manage itself, in fact if you allow it to do what it wants it will do all the fun things, spend, spend, spend, and sure it’s good to have fun, but your money should be taught to act just like your mom told you – work first then play, so you have to teach it how it should allocate itself, paying you first, by delineating significant amounts to your fund for your non-earning years, then your monthly operating expenses and finally fun money.  That sequence is important, and many get it wrong.  If “bright, shiny objects” become your top priority, then you must hope that they will be able to be of aid and comfort during your non-earning years, and they rarely are.

Yes, you say, I know what I should be doing, but somehow I just can’t get around to it.  It seems so many other things just keep pushing money off of your plate.   

So how do we shake off this inertia? Well Nike has a good suggestion: “Just Do It.” Make a date with your money and get to know it.  Build a real relationship, one where you are not backing out of the dates all the time. One where you start opening those envelopes or emails, checking your credit reports, reconciling your banks accounts, eliminating your credit card debt, tax planning and monitoring your investments.

The management process doesn’t have to be threatening, or intimidating, really once you jump in and set up your processes all the wrinkles start to shake out and before you know it your process is humming along smoothly.  You’ll be able to self-diagnose your personal economy and determine whether you are on track or have veered off of the planned route to financial independence, and know you need to get back on.

Sure, most of us would probably qualify to be called impatient at least in some area in our lives, but when it comes to our money, patience is of utmost importance.   Think of your allocation of funds as building your vision, like the daffodil principle – where the daffodil lady had a vision of an entire hillside in bloom and planted over 50,000 bulbs, one by one over a period of forty years until she brought her vision of a daffodil hillside into fruition.  If you have a vision of financial independence, you have to put in the work.  Start to plant those bulb dollars early to facilitate that. 

A special word to young adults, who have recently entered the workforce, you have your whole life ahead of you, time is on your side but only for so long.  Time is relentless and it flies, so harness it while you can, and get it to work for you.  Let your dollars work smart.  Use time wisely and grab the bonus (you can put aside much less if you start early) you just have to make that choice. This is where the patience comes in.  Waiting until much later requires larger and larger allocations to effect the same outcome, and of course, if you set aside much larger allocations now you can achieve financial independence way sooner, no need to wait for your 50’s and 60’s, that’s a real incentive.  Just develop the habit of putting aside regular allocations early on.

So shake off the inertia, start today, Make a date with your money.  You’ll be glad you did. You’ll wonder why you waited so long, and regret all the growth in your portfolio that you missed. 

Tell us in comments what’s keeping you from actively managing your money, or if you have no problems managing your money, share your tips with the nation.

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"No matter who you are, making informed decisions about what you do with your money, will help build a more stable financial future for you and your family." Alan Greenspan