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Keeping up with the Jones

Do you have a little envy going on?  These days, everything from Order Envy (your friend’s meal choice looks way better than yours) to outright covetousness over their assets seems to be in vogue.  You may know it as that feeling when their gleaming new ride pulls up next to your perfectly operational and completely reliable, but 2005 model Corolla, and suddenly you feel a little lame.  Or you’ve been toting that fabulously comfortable, but rather battered handbag around a bit longer than most, while your friends have had a few sparkling new upgrades.  The Kardashians have even decided that you should really emulate them and based an empire on it!

It may not even be that you have a desire to actually  have what your friend or Kim or Khloe or Kourtney has—but what some behavioural economists call “image motivation,” which in layman’s terms, is simply the desire to be perceived as successful by others.

Basically, there’s nothing wrong with this—unless of course it encourages you to spend and live beyond your means. And that’s where there’s a problem.  It’s also always good to remember, that just because someone has it, doesn’t mean they can actually afford it.

You’ve likely heard the very common expression that someone may be trying to “keep up with the Joneses.”  Neighbours outdo each other with bigger and better renovations and newer and sportier vehicles while other look on and giggle.   You may however like to see where it’s all at for the original Jones…

The fabulous Wyndclyff Mansion built in 1853 in Rhinebeck, New York by Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones originally inspired the phrase, and it’s now a crumbling ruin in total disarray.  So if you have a touch of the green-eyed monster over some of your friends places or belongings, perhaps you could hang a picture of what the Jones estate looks like now to give you a little comfort and perspective.

The house ended up with a number of owners who couldn’t afford to maintain or repair it, and it has now been abandoned for years.

So the best advice I can give, is to take the home’s fate to heart and use your desire for a little prestige as the fire to aid you in making your own individual, solid financial decisions.

Funnel the money you would have spent matching your mates into a savings or investment plan instead.  Chances are, by investing instead of spending, you’re way more likely to end up ahead!

Are you feeling Lucky?

Is it time to take “Luck” Out of the Financial Equation?

It finally happened!!  You got the promotion you wanted and the salary is better than expected.   Congratulations! Must be time to celebrate right?  That new handbag has totally been calling to you and you really deserve the splurge!   Then you find $50 in a pair of jeans before heading out for the night and think, time to buy myself a lottery ticket!

Feeling like luck is on your side is a big-time confidence boost—but on the downside, it can also cloud your judgement and lead to not-so-hot financial consequences… if you aren’t careful.

As an example, an older Ohio University study found whenever the State’s football team won a game, local lottery ticket sales surged.  I’m guessing that even though the fans are obviously into football, they also knew the odds of hitting the jackpot were the same as they had always been.  It seems though, that the excitement, even euphoria of the victory on the field, then made them feel as though they could triumph over anything, including turning the win into a financial windfall too.

If you’re more comfortable with footy tipping than an investment on the stock market, evaluate how much you rely on luck versus good money sense.

Obviously, the splurge of a few dollars won’t negatively impact your bottom line over the long term, that’s a given!  But jumping into bigger financial decisions—like, finally scoring that renovator’s delight that you’re totally sure you can flip quickly for a profit, just because you’re on a lucky hot streak, certainly can have a much bigger and longer-lasting impact.

So what’s the best way to keep wishful thinking from clouding your judgement?

Basically, just think things through.  Do the due diligence you would on making any investment and thoroughly research the pros and cons.  Seek professional help if you need to – investing a few hundred on advice early, can save you the heartache of the loss of tens of thousands later.  Remember also, that a professional adviser isn’t clouded by the same emotions you are, and may also have an idea of a few other things you hadn’t thought of.

Sometimes, you can have a win because you were brave enough to finally act instead of coming from a place of fear.  But when you’re weighing up that big money decision, seek help ensure you’re not acting out of a misguided, “can’t-lose, I’m on a roll” gambler’s mindset versus a positive, well thought-through plan.

Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you, the harder they work, the luckier they get!

Your Life Lessons Legacy

Whether you have kids now or want them in the future, take a moment to think about what lessons you’d really like your kids to learn from you: And there’s tons to choose from! Good Self Esteem? Great Communication Skills? Business Acumen? Knowing that it’s ok to pursue their dreams? Diligence and Hard work? How the world really works? A good relationship with money? Generosity? Healthy Eating  Habits? Philanthropy? All of the above?

What do you feel you’re able to pass onto them that you yourself are fully living by example? If you want happy kids, are you happy? If you really want healthy babies, how do you treat your own body?  If you want them to be financially secure, are you modelling those behaviours?

We all want to be perfect parents and yes, we all try very hard. (I was such a perfect parent before I had kids!! Took just one to mess that delusion up!  Now I’m just great at other people’s kids!)

Not surprisingly however, the very best things we can teach  are children are by our own example. Not as it turns out, by getting them into the best schools, or running around cramming in loads of extra-curricular activities etc.

It’s only when we decide to truly embody a behaviour ourselves, that they can truly learn and model that for themselves.  How scary is that?  (I might have to start saving for their therapy sessions now!)

Are you acting in integrity with what you want your kids to become?

Those who hesitate, are…

When we hesitate, we don’t feel so good.

We doubt ourselves, we question the outcomes, we fear the ‘what if?’ and then a whole host of other emotions show up to the party. All of a sudden, we don’t feel like we are on solid ground any more. It seems as though hesitation can kill off part of our life force, leaving us in a place of indecision.

Is it time to get conscious of what area of your life you are the most hesitant in? What is the mind telling you as a well-crafted story?   Could your finances be just one area you’re not taking charge of?

“I can’t invest until…?”

“I won’t get on top of my finances until…?”

“The markets are really unsettled, I’ll just wait until…?”

“When I get that new job, then I’ll…”

“When I score the promotion, I’ll…”

Notice how the mind is doing its thing again to try and keep you safe, when you really know deep down, you should take a different direction.

Today, stop hesitating about that one thing and decide to move ahead.  Be bold and fearless!

If it’s your finances you’re hesitant over – can you pay more off the credit card?  Start that offset account against the mortgage?  Make that investment you’ve always wanted to?  Get your head around the share market?  Look for that investment property you’ve been talking about for years?  Seek professional help to get you where you’d like to go?

As I learned from my favourite line in Robin Williams’ movie Dead Poets Society “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day.”

I would love to hear what you’ve chosen to stop hesitating about and how it’s turned out for you!

Time to Sweat the Small Stuff

What little habits do you have, that take up small parts of your wages each working day or week?

Most of us have something we love and really feel we just can’t do without!  That amazing frappe from the local coffee shop at $7 a pop?  That seriously healthy juice we need every day at $9 a slurp?  A fantastic bought lunch at $15 per day, because it’s so much nicer than a vegemite sandwich?  The latest glossy mag full of Kardashian butts to keep you enthralled at $10 a read?  That Bounty bar that we only ever get when we fill up each week at the servo at $3 a bite?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to indulge in life’s little luxuries!

But sometimes it’s also good to take stock of just how much we pay out on ‘the small stuff.’

As an example, if you save the $7 per working day on the coffees ($35 per week at 48 weeks per year) you’re looking at a total annual spend of $1,680!  Didn’t that add up quickly!

Can you buy lunch once a week and bring in leftovers the other days?  Can you cut the magazine spend down to monthly not weekly?  What little incremental changes can you make, to make a big difference somewhere else?

Now, I’m not saying you need to go without – heaven forbid!! But what if you chose to cut it down – maybe a once a week treat – and every day, transfer those little bits you’d otherwise spend into something else?  Like, paying down those credit cards, chipping away at the mortgage, or finally putting it towards that holiday we’ve been dreaming of!

The benefits of the compounding interest (that you’re saving) may just surprise and delight you.

Let me know what little indulgences have run away from you?  And what you’re prepared to give up to focus on something else?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Time to Learn!

It seems we are wired to be constantly learning and growing. Life is full of changes, in fact, it’s often been said that “change is the only constant.”  It certainly seems that way in the financial planning profession anyway…  and I’m sure it’s the same for you!

It might be then time to ask yourself; “am I still constantly learning or am I just clocking time?”  Do you continue to stretch yourself or have things settled into a fairly boring and predictable pattern?

It’s never too late to learn something new. You are never too old or too busy.  We’ve all heard about the 90 year old graduates that pop up fulfilling life long dreams!

What is it that you’ve always wanted to find out more about? These days, the Internet is a free library of anything you may want to learn.  Apps can help you learn new languages or take virtual tours of places you’ve always wanted to go.  Many courses are offered via on-line learning facilities that means we can study in our own time and in the comfort of our own home.

What is on your learning bucket list?

Lots of people ask me how they can learn more about financial matters… such as investing in the stock market.  Did you know that the ASX offer free courses via their Education Centre for first time investors, have a share market game, on-line courses, seminars and webinars and investment videos?  Check out their offering here:  ASX Education Centre

The ATO also offers much free advice and easy to understand videos on investing through to Self Managed Super Funds.  Go exploring here: ATO SMSF Education

And if finances aren’t your chosen subject, You Tube can teach you everything you need to know, from How the stick insect walks to How to trick people into thinking you have big boobs.

Looks like the world really is your oyster!  Love to hear what lights your fire and you’ve spent more time studying!

 

Time for a financial clean up?

When we think of giving something a good clean, we usually think of a room in our home, the pantry, our laundry or some cupboards and drawers…

The de-cluttering fad has taken the world by storm and experts and converts and hooked on the new levels of simplicity.  Just check with Pinterest!

But what about cleaning up other parts of our lives?  For example, cleaning up your relationships or your health?  There may be friends that you really no longer need to be in touch with, family members who never leave you feeling good or other relationships that it’s in your best interests to move on from.  Is it time to get serious about your health? Can you leave behind the daily lattes?  Lose the chocolates?  Maybe get that blood test to see why you’re feeling tired?  Book in for that overdue pap?  Or see to that dodgy freckle you’ve been meaning to have checked?

What part of your life most urgently needs you taking the broom to it and having a good clean up?

From what I see, many leave their finances in the ‘too hard basket’ for too long and find it a bit overwhelming to get started.  So, it’s time to get out the broom!

You may have lowered your standards and made up fantastic reasons for why it’s still acceptable in some form or another to not have your act together financially. Excuses have come first… until now!  But what if that all changed today? How can you start cleaning up this one area of your life?  It’s totally up to you!

Remember, everything great always starts with really small steps in the right direction.

Which will you tackle first?  A basic budget?  Consolidation of your super funds?  Paying off the credit cards?  Making real dents to the Mortgage?  Starting a savings plan for the kids’ eduction?  Putting away for the dream holiday?

You will be amazed how much progress you can make in a matter of weeks and months if you put some serious focus on this area of your life.

So pick something, anything!  And take the Domestos to it!  I’d love to hear what you’ve decided to tackle head on and how you’re going to go about it!