Two Essential Life Lessons for Financial Well-Being
By Richard Schooley
Or, how $7 might be all you need to get started.
While we spend so much time learning the “Three Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic in school, (which never made much sense as I believe arithmetic starts with an ‘a’), yet we spend almost no time learning about building good healthy financial habits. Once we have completed our education, we are sent out into the world with heaps of debt on our shoulders and no idea how to manage our financial world. We pay things off as best we can and begin investing for “retirement,” whatever that is. For 97% of Americans, our income continues to be just short of our desired standard of living. It is only after we manage to get the kids through school and hopefully launched on their own, that we begin to wonder if we are on track. We were never given the financial coaching and tools to make good healthy financial decisions.
Vacations with my family were always road trips. As we were preparing for one of our infamous car rides, my father took us to the store and gave us $7 to purchase anything we wanted to take along on the trip. In deep contemplation—walking up and down the aisles—trying to figure out what I should buy with my $7, I finally decided on buying a board game that the entire family could play. As I walked up to the register my father asked me about my investment decision. When I explained what I was purchasing and why, he purchased the board game himself and told me to save my $7. I was lucky that my parents often created opportunities to teach their children good healthy financial habits.
Intentional Spending & Goal-based Investing
Intentional spending and goal-based investing were two of those financial habits. As a financial coach, these are things that I have taught my children, shared with college students as an advisor, and employ in my financial practice with my clients and their children on a daily basis. Understanding the importance of a budget, keeping good credit and managing expenses is the basis for a healthy financial structure and it doesn’t stop there. You need to have an “emergency fund” or as my wife likes to call it an “opportunity fund” to protect your other long term investment goals. You need to set goals for your life in addition to retirement. Life is a journey, after all, not a destination — with so many exciting and challenging things that we need to plan for, in addition to retirement.
This is the main reason creating these habits as soon as possible is so important.
Most people don’t come to me looking for coaching until they are in their 50s hoping they have done enough by this time to be on track to achieve their goals. Look for opportunities to teach your children and grandchildren about healthy financial habits and if you want direction on how to pursue your financial goals, considering talking to a Certified Financial Planner® and get some coaching toward a confident financial future. It’s never too late to begin “intentional spending” and “goal-based investing;” however, the earlier you start the easier it is.
Kevin C. Swanson
This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the sale of any financial product or service. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. If professional advice is needed, the services of a professional advisor should be sought.