Archive for May 2006

How a marathon is like personal finances

Well, this weekend I will be running my very first full marathon. That’s right – 26.2 beautiful miles! At least I will be able to run it among the beautiful San Diego streets.

As I have trained for this marathon, I have realized that there are many correlations between this race and personal finances.

1. Both require disciplined focus and regular attention.

  • You will not just get rich because you want to. You will not run 26.2 miles just because you want to.

2. You must train yourself.

  • If you do not train yourself to manage your money, you will struggle. Monthly budgets are not an option. I know you do not like to do them. I also did not like to run 17+ miles at a time training for this race, but it was necessary to be able to make it the entire race.

3. This is not a sprint.

  • I have seen many people (MANY!) that become exuberant about changing their financial situation. They charge into restructuring their lives. I applaud their efforts. I am excited for them. I then see them 3 months later and they are right back doing the bad habits that got them broke in the first place! Why? They wanted to get rich quick. They wanted the result NOW! They forgot how long it took them to get so deeply into debt. In this marathon, if I started out at a dead-sprint I can guarantee you that I would not finish. I must start out with the end in mind. I must understand that a successful race requires commitment and a long-term mindset.

4. Both require a commitment.

  • I have never despised Saturday mornings until training for this race. You see, this is the time I have had to complete my long runs. I have had to run in 40 degree weather with blowing wind and rain for 17 miles. I have had to run in 90 degree weather with high humidity. I have had to run when I had family in town to visit. I have had to run while on vacation. Why did I have to run? I committed to run this race. I committed to complete this race. Just as I have committed my life to Christ, I must complete this race. Just as I have committed my life to my wife in marriage, I must complete this race. In the same way, I must remain committed to my finances. Without commitment, this whole entire effort to have financial success would fail. It is simple math, but it requires full commitment.

5. The end result is worth it!

  • I have lost 18 pounds that I did not even know I could lose by training for this marathon. I am the most fit I have ever been in my entire life. I KNOW that I will cry when I cross the finish line. I am OK with that. I KNOW that I am pumped up over what our financial planning has allowed Jenn and I to accomplish. It is enabling us to be able to do exactly what we were made to do. To accomplish EXACTLY what we were put on Earth to do! Truly, the end result is worth it!

Top 3 Things You Should Do Over Memorial Day Weekend (for your Personal Finances)

1. Spend only what you have budgeted to spend.
2. No budget?!! Budget – and then spend only what you have budgeted to spend.
3. Enjoy the things in life that are free! Family, friends, nature, gardening, and birds are some of the items on my list.

Have a great holiday!

A sign that your financial plan is working!

A friend was so excited to tell me today that they received their real estate property tax bill and it was $100 less than they had saved up for it! There was not one hint of sadness that the bill was large (it is a fact of life). There was just jubilation that they had $100 extra beyond what was needed to cover the bill.

That is a true sign that your financial plan is working!!! I remember the times when the non-monthly bills would roll around. Bills like my auto insurance which I paid quarterly. It was a punishing time to come up with the funds to pay that bill. I remember it well. I do not like the feelings I have when I remember those times. It was not fun. It was certainly not a time for jubilation.

If you are able to have the entire amount of each non-monthly bill saved up by the time the bill actually comes due … yeah … I would say that means you have a financial plan that is working big time! Congratulations!

For those of you who have the less ideal feelings when thinking about those non-monthly big financial setbacks, I challenge you to do this. In your monthly budget (you do have a monthly budget, right?), take the bill amount and divide it by the number of months you have remaining before the bill comes due.

For example, if you have a $400 insurance bill coming due in 5 months, you would divide $400 by 5. This means that you need to save $80 this month and for the next 4 additional months to have the $400 in 5 months. This will really help relieve your financial plan from the “big” hits as it will level out your expenses over each month.

Personal Finance is about so much more than the stock market

If you pull up the personal finance page of USA Today, CNN, or any other major news group the focus is primarily on the stock market. A large chart may indicate the progress of the market through that particular day. It may even show the progress of the stock market through the past week or month. Maybe even over the past year.

Stock market information is useful, but is it the most important part of your financial plan? I would beg you to search further.

I believe that the stock market (and the potential progress of an investment) is a result of good personal financial management. While I believe it is absolutely imperative that one have a good method of measuring the progress of their investments, it is more important to have a solid foundation for your personal finances.

Here is what I believe is necessary to have a solid foundation for your personal finances:

  • Husband and Wife both on board
  • Willingness to change as personal financial condition necessitates
  • A working monthly budget that is zero-based and is completed BEFORE the month begins EVERY month
  • A commitment to never do debt again – including cutting up your credit cards!
  • Freedom from life-controlling issues (drug addiction; compulsive gambling; etc.)
  • A written goal sheet detailing your short and long-term goals with dates you plan to achieve them. This is developed with your spouse

If you have these items in place, you have what it takes to win. I have had many people enthusiastically try to change their financial future to no avail because of a failure to have this solid foundation in place.

Are you just looking at the stock market without having a sound financial plan? Focus on putting these parts of your financial foundation in place for the next 90 days. You will realize an improved marriage as a bonus!

I have not given up on you!

For those of you who have yet to put together a plan for your finances … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who started a plan for your finances, but have been unable to follow through … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who despise the idea of budgeting … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who believe I am off of my rocker for spending cash out of envelopes and NOT having a credit card … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who think that you will never pay off your house … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who have a spouse who will not participate in developing a plan for your finances … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who are the spouse who will not participate in developing a plan for your finances … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who believe that you can never have a savings account with 000s in it … I have not given up on you.

For those of you who are up to your eyeballs in debt … I have not given up on you.

I BELIEVE that you can do it! I BELIEVE that your marriage can be strengthened by working together on your financial plan. I BELIEVE that you will be able to give more than you ever dreamed to very worthy causes. I BELIEVE that you can have financial security. I BELIEVE in written plans. I BELIEVE it is your responsibility to develop the plan and follow it! I BELIEVE in you.

I have not given up on you.