Just as no one can tell you how to feel
about a beautiful sunset, no one can tell you
how to live your life.
You are the artist…and must shape your experiences
with your own hand.
— Susan Staszewski
As you, the artist, shape your future, here are 10 attitudes that can help you create the perfect picture of your new financial life.
1. A Man is Not a Financial Plan®
We all entertain the fantasy of financial rescue at some point in our lives. We might purchase lottery tickets, invest in risky ventures, or pine for the “perfect someone” who will save us financially. Though the fantasy of financial rescue is entertaining, it can become a barrier to accomplishment. Hope of financial success must be accompanied by hard work — or the hope becomes a mere excuse for waiting and a reason for disappointment when Prince Charming doesn’t show up. If you have been putting off taking serious steps toward providing for your financial future, begin right now to create goals based on your current income and financial situation. (If you’d like an “A Man Is Not a Financial Plan™” bumper sticker, send a self-addressed envelope to us at PO Box 910014, San Diego, CA 92191)
2. I can take care of my own financial future
Future, what future? If you are afraid of the future, you probably live from day to day trying to avoid thinking about it. Unfortunately, people unable to face the future also spend from day to day and don’t build a financial foundation for themselves. Fear of the future can become a self-fulfilling prophecy: without financial security, your future can be scary indeed. To help yourself face the music, take small baby steps. Start by establishing some short-term financial goals, such as contributing an additional $50 to your company retirement plan, or paying for your next vacation with savings instead of credit. These small goals can inspire you to get started on your future in a big way.
3. I am a strong, savvy woman
Poor, poor you. No savings, lots of debt, and no career potential. How sad…boohoo. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-pity and people-pleasing — but it’s far more rewarding to believe in yourself and your goals. Show your self-confidence by paying yourself first and investing in your future. Self-love is not running up bills and creating lots of debt; self-love is living within your means and giving yourself the gift of peace of mind. You are one of a kind, special, and unique. You don’t need to spend beyond your means, give money away that you can’t afford, or invest in risky schemes that you don’t understand. You can prudently save for your future and invest in yourself. Who cares about little old you? You do.
4. I learn everything I need to know
Personal finance is one of the most neglected subjects in our educational system. You go to school to learn readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic, but where do you go to learn about personal finance? Ignorance is not bliss, and it’s very, very expensive. Take the time to educate yourself about your money. Read articles and books on managing your money, investments and career success. Attend community college seminars or courses on personal finance. Everyone, at every level, can learn to be a better manager of her financial life.
5. I take action on the important things in life
Are you a certified Procrastinator? Do you never do today what you can put off until tomorrow? You might be afraid of success, afraid of failure, or just afraid of facing the future. Whatever the cause, procrastination just makes it harder on yourself. Remember that saying, “The stewing is worse than the doing.” If you have a tendency to procrastinate, try the direct approach. F-f-f-force yourself to face a small financial task you have been putting off, such as organizing your records, reading your employee benefits package, or preparing a budget. Just do it. Next week, choose another small chore, and repeat the process. As you practice, it will become easier to force yourself to do the hard stuff first so you can truly enjoy the good times without worry.
6. I am worthy of success
Are you afraid that there is something wrong with you, some fundamental flaw that keeps you from success? Do you never feel like you have what it takes? When you avoid success you become stuck in fear, because you avoid ever actually finding out if you are “good enough” to achieve your dreams. Instead of worrying about whether or not you have what it takes, get busy! As you prosper, you will discover that you were indeed “good enough” to do it — because you did it! So allow yourself to enjoy the successes you have already had, and let reality be your guide for evaluating your future efforts. Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.
7. I am empowered to help myself and others
Do you really want to succeed? Or are you afraid of outdoing your friends, your spouse, or your parents? Are you sabotaging yourself because you can’t bear the thought of making anyone feel envious? It’s usually pointless to try to talk yourself out of your guilt over success — you’ve got way too much conditioning to overcome. It’s best to accept the guilt and try to succeed “even if”. Succeed “even if” other people feel envious. Succeed “even if” you’re afraid. Feel the guilt, then set it aside, and just concentrate on doing what you need to do to get ahead. Those who are secure in their own lives will be proud of your success, and for those who aren’t, your success can become an example for their own progress.
8. Every act of self-discipline is an act of self-love
Is eating breakfast really exciting? Do you always feel like working out at the gym? How about doing your taxes each year — that’s lots of fun, isn’t it? Finances are a necessary part of life, boring or not. If you find finances boring, create a simple system that helps you achieve your goals. Pay your bills online a certain day each week, regularly invest a certain amount in your savings and retirement accounts, and don’t sweat the small stuff. As your confidence grows, so will your interest in your finances.
9. I can afford to take reasonable risks
There is no such thing as an absolutely sure thing. Risks and rewards work in tandem: the greater the risk, the greater the rewards. If you don’t take any risks, you will never be able to achieve the gains you need to fund your short-term goals, your children’s education, or your retirement. If you have had bad experiences, try to overcome your fears by figuring out what went wrong and why. Instead of just saying, “Oh, I could never invest in that!”, review the fundamentals of the investment, examine how other people have succeeded, and take your best shot.
10. I allow myself the freedom to make mistakes
Ah, perfectionism. Trying to achieve perfection in investing is a never ending task. If you earned 4%, you beat yourself up because you didn’t earn 5%. If you bought at the very bottom, you are disappointed because you didn’t sell at the very top. No matter what you choose, you make sure that you lose. To avoid this self-defeating habit pattern, emphasize action. Every successful investor suffers occasional setbacks and losses. The secret to investment success is to win big and lose small. Remember, there are a wide range of right decisions and only a narrow band of decisions that are decidedly wrong. You don’t need to know how to pick the exact right investment, only how to avoid those that don’t suit your financial needs.