Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?
This question has been asked over and over this past election year. But really, are you better off? And how much of the results, whether good or bad, are you responsible for? Don’t lean on government and politics for the answer, just straight up answer whether you’re better off financially than you were eight years ago due to your own spending, saving, and borrowing habits?
Regardless of what’s going on in the country around us, each of us must take charge of our own lives financially, on a deep, personal level. Who cares what a politician may promise about healthcare, Social Security, retirement, 401(k)s, and finances. As much as politicians might like to think they control our lives, there is only a limited amount they can get their hands on. The rest is up to us. Someone once said, there are only two things you need to worry about, that which you control, and that
which you don’t. I think it’s time to stop worrying so much about the things we don’t control and focus on the work of saving our own homes and families. Let’s starting looking within for more answers because that’s where they really lie.
While poor decision-making in Washington does affect how much money we can earn and keep, nobody else cares as much about you as you do, so you are ultimately the one responsible for what happens to your financial life. Even in terrible economic and political times, such as the Great Depression, there were those who quietly applied the never-changing principles of solid financial management — spending control, debt elimination, and saving for the future — and managed to swim out of the mess into opportunities to create enormous wealth later. One of my colleague’s neighbors, at 98, is a good example of this. A humble postal worker for 40 years, who never made more than $30,000 annually, is a millionaire now because of the way he spent, saved, and borrowed during dreadful economic times.
Reflecting back on your last eight years, ask yourself, “what did I take control of to make my life better?
- Did you study a new subject?
- Have you become more capable in your work endeavors?
- Have you finally got your spending under control?
- Are you in more debt or less debt?
The next eight years are going to come and go with or without us taking decisive action. We might as well make the time count by choosing to do more than we ever have before.
Here is a time-tested system for accomplishing your dreams. I’d like to apply this system to financial goals…
- Write down you goals. When do you want to retire an with how much money? How much debt do you have and when do you plan to be out of all of it? How much money do you want to save for emergencies each month? Those kinds of things…
- Devise plans that are attainable for making these goals a reality. Set up a Spending Plan. Set up a Debt Plan. Set up a Retirement Plan.
- Keep track of results and evaluate plans. Learn how to track your spending so you can get your finances under control. Actually track your debt pay down so you will know where you are falling short each month.
- Adjust plans as needed and start again. Tracking results is the only way you know how you are doing compared to your original plan. Sometimes through tracking our actions we find the plan isn’t working or that it didn’t really fit with our values and priorities. Adjust things as needed but know that at least with a plan, even if it’s flawed in places, you are going forward. My friend always comments to people who make fun of her for setting such rigid New Years’ resolutions each January: “I have tracked my goal-setting over a 20-year period and I have found something interesting. Consistently, across the board, I find that I accomplish about 50 percent of my goals. I think 50 percent over a 20-year-period aint bad. Fifty percent is better than no percent, don’t you think?” She’s darn right!
In my experience, if you will devise a game plan that is achievable, then track results so as to adjust along the way, you will achieve most anything you set your mind to.
I want to leave this short goal setting discussion with a famous quote by Zig Ziglar, a dynamic motivational speaker. Whenever he finishes teaching, he always closes with, “See you at the top!”