Financial Matters – Stuart Burns
It’s really true what they say about time appearing to go faster and faster as we get older. It’s hard to believe we are already half way through 2014. Many countries such as the United States and Mexico have celebrations to commemorate their independence from another government. Merriam-Webster defines independence as “freedom from outside control or support: the state of being independent”. One of my personal goals and most likely a goal that we would all like to achieve is the state of “financial independence” where we are free from outside controls like debt, higher interest rates, living from check to check. We will talk more in depth about different ways that can help us reach this goal in future articles but I would like to focus this month on our priorities. If we can be bold and choose to think differently and focus less on what society is saying we will gain a major edge in the battle for our financial freedom!
“It’s your attitude, not your aptitude which will determine your altitude” – Zig Ziglar
There is a new psychological disorder that’s being discussed in the news called “Affluenza”. Affluenza was used in a recent legal case as a justification for a drunk driving incident; however we all need to be cognizant of the underlying issues that can really affect us all to some degree in a highly marketing oriented society.
1) What is Affluenza?
Affluenza at its root is the desire to keep up with the neighbors, have the latest toys, luxury fever. This leads to our over-consumption, consumer debt load, over work. The stress from this leads to psychological disorders such as alienation, depression, distress and causes people to self medicate with drugs and alcohol consumption.
2) Why do this to ourselves?
Think about the average lifespan of some of the things we are running out and getting into debt.
- New Car – average life is about 10.8 years now
- Computers- are about 2-3 years – maybe 5 if you don’t use it often
- Ipads/Tablets – Still pretty new and run about 2-3 years
- Flatscreen TVs – 5-8 years
You see the point that many of us are running out and getting in debt to get these things when we really need to be asking do we really need them at all. Is the additional stress and debt going to be worth it?
3) What’s the cure?
The study on Affluenza concludes by showing that people were finding more happiness and contentment by downsizing and placing their family, friends and personal contentment above money in determining their life goals.
4) How do I know if I have Affluenza?
This may look different for each person but here are some helpful questions that you should be asking.
- Before I make purchases am I aware of the cost and if I take on debt- the extra costs and time it will take to pay for it
- Do I see myself wanting the latest gadgets when they come out and showing them off to neighbors
- If my neighbors get new things do I find myself trying to keep up with them?
- Am I spending excessive time at work because of debt or wanting that next position simply for the prestige of it?
- Do I miss a lot of my children’s events because of work and feel guilty for missing them?
- Do I find myself resorting to needing a drink/nightcap to handle the stress?
5) What should I do now?
You will need to determine where this balance is in your life and circumstances.
- Make a conscious decision that you will not buy into affluenza and will place a higher priority on what’s important – your family, friends and your own health. Be bold!
- If your job is creating the stress and time away – can you transition to a different job even if the pay is a little lower to get more time to do things that will bring contentment
- If you are feeling stress because of debt – see if you can downsize your mortgage (refinance at lower rate) or move to a smaller house. Can you consolidate credit card debt or at least make a plan to pay it down and pay it off?
- Develop strong financial habits so that you can avoid any stress from new debts and be more efficient with your current income
6) Start on your path to financial independence now
Make the choice today that you will put your family and yourself ahead of material things and the pursuit of money. No one is saying you shouldn’t have ambitions and maybe even get some of these things but keep in mind that going into debt for them is only going to bring you stress. That job that sounds so great but will result in you not seeing your family – maybe the sacrifice is not worth it. Make the choice that’s best for you and your family. Don’t be like that commercial with the guy driving the lawn mower and saying “I have a new house, I have 2 new cars, I have a swimming pool — how can I afford all this? I am in debt up to my ears –someone please help me” Don’t let the outside factors keep you from your financial independence!
Keep your eyes open for upcoming Father Matter’s seminars and I hope to see you at Father Fest 2014.
For some great financial tools and resources go to: http://learn.bankofamerica.com/money-management/ and http://www.bettermoneyhabits.com or contact Stuart Burns at 602-464-1381 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org