Money is a gift. It has a specific use. This means that you have a stewardship. You are to use your money for something that matters, for your family and beyond.
The second Financial Principle in the book Financial Fitness raises a more than relevant point that everyone ought to consider. Most Americans are employed or self-employed individuals that trade the best hours of their day in the best years of their lives to earn money. This makes this principle more than relevant! Simply by understanding that you have a stewardship to your money will help you understand that money is in fact something that matters, and is not something to take for granted.
In my last post I talked about the concept of Define, Learn, Do. This principle teaches to first define where you want to go in life before setting sail for your destination. The first step in this process is to stop and think about what you want to accomplish in your life. Go ahead and take off the constraints of your current reality and let yourself dream a bit! Pretend you won the lottery and can now live life the way you had dreamed about as a child. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you help? Next, ask yourself, “Self, why am I not currently achieving my dreams and goals?” Well “self”, you probably just can’t afford it and you have not, and do not have a plan in place to achieve your goals and make your dreams your reality.
What would you do if the money thing was off the table?
I hope you have given the above question some serious thought. What would you really do with your life if you were able to live by your own personal priorities rather than according to your obligations? Most people give a few really common answers.
- Travel the World
- Pay off debt (including mortgage)
- Build a new home
- Spend more time with family
- Provide financial assistance to others
- Donate to charity
If you study the great people of history, you will often times find people that were able to live their purpose rather than be bound to an alternate set of obligations. For some people a career may be the thing that completes them. For others, they may want more. Or perhaps they were in the right industry at the right time with the right information and found massive success. Consider a guy like Bill Gates, who has made more money that I make in a year in the time it took me to write this post. Was Bill Gates destined to become a philanthropist, or did his success with Microsoft provide him the opportunity to live his life the way he sees fit? I guess my main point is this — life is full of opportunities. We just have to first know what we want, then be prepared to take action once we get the right information.
Intentions minus actions equals squat!
A reoccurring theme in the first few chapters of Financial Fitness is physical fitness. Most of us at one time or another have looked down and pinched the belly and realized that we could stand to lose a few pounds and then decide that we are going to do something about it. If you are anything like me, you probably change into your running gear immediately then walk outdoors and start running. By mile two you realize that you are complete and totally out of shape and have to stop only to realize that you don’t want to run any further and are now a mile from home! Or, you decide that you are going to run a marathon. You think about running a marathon a lot. You look online and find out the time and location. You tell your friends! Then time passes and you realize that the marathon is only 3 weeks away and you have run only once, for one mile (and found yourself one mile away from home, as in scenario 1).
As I read through the first several chapters in Financial Fitness I was encouraged several times by the authors to become a transformational reader, rather than an informational reader. This means to read with the intention of actually taking action and apply the principles in the book immediately as you read. Much like the running analogy above, becoming financially fit is much like becoming physically fit. Thinking about becoming financially fit will not make one financially fit, nor will taking extreme measures (such as planning to run a marathon before you achieved a base level of running shape) get you any closer to your goals. As in achieving physical fitness, one must learn the principles, and apply these principles steadily to and develop proper habits over time.
Financial Principle 2 goes on to mention that one should use his or her money for something that matters. Becoming physically fit is something that one must learn to do before helping others do the same, and Financial Fitness is no exception. The book continually uses the same message that you would receive on airplane while being instructed on proper use of the oxygen mask. Help yourself first, then help others around you. I thought that this was an important concept as often times we consider those around us first, for better or worse. We either have a big heart or sacrifice our own outcomes for our conceived benefit of others, or we are too concerned what others think of us to take a step in the right direction. Each of these thoughts point back to confidence and leadership. The best thing we can do for others is to stop worrying about what they are doing or what they think, and simply become a good example to follow. Invest in your own Financial Fitness first. Read with the intention of getting information that when applied, will cause a transformation in your life.
“If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin