Home      Intro      Education Series      Advanced Topics      Blog      Giving Back     Services

How To Succeed with Your Financial Plan

We all have heard the financial advice for success: earn more and spend less.  If the advice was so simple, then why are Americans going into further debt?  It is because sometimes simple solutions do not treat the real problem, they just cover up the symptoms.  To succeed with your financial plan, you may need to go a little deeper to find the real problem and not just follow the next financial advice fad.  There are many reasons that can contribute to your financial plan success that are not addressed by "spend less & save more" including:

1) Determine your level of commitment

We are not usually asked about our commitment level before starting an action plan.  It is usually assumed that the person is committed especially if he is looking for help.  Yet, looking for help does not signify the level of commitment.  When starting on a financial plan, it is inevitable that there will be a bump in the road.  When this occurs, there is a a choice on whether to persevere or to use the bump in the road as further evidence to reinforce the belief of not being good with money.  When a person is not that committed then they will probably decide that they are not good with money and give up.  Failing at the first sign of trouble can actually be worse than not trying at all.  Because if you are reinforcing the belief that you are not good with money , then it will be harder to try again after a failed attempt.  It may be better if you did not try at all until you are really committed to succeeding, so that you do not set yourself up to fail with a half-hearted commitment.

The key is to really make a commitment to yourself before starting.  It sounds easy.  Yet, how many have given up on their New Year's resolution before the end of February?  To help you succeed, envision yourself at the end of the process.  What will be different when you do succeed?  What are you really after?  People are more likely to persevere through the rough times when they have a clear picture of why they want to change.  So, see the results from the end.

2) Determine why you are really doing it for

Is it getting out of debt? Or, having a secure retirement?  These are admirable goals.  However, they will have more power if you go to a level deeper and ask why you want it.  Why do you want to get out of debt?  Do you want to decrease stress or to live up to your commitment to repay your loans?  Also determine when you will achieve your goal (measurable); make sure it is achievable.   Having a clearer goal will help you achieve it.

3) Find a partner

There is usually so much shame around money where many people want want to hide their money secrets.  However, this just perpetuates the issues.  Because when you are hiding from your problems, you are not solving them.  The energy worrying about a problem would be better spent on solving the issues instead.  Having a friend can help you drop the shame by sharing your money issues.  So, release yourself from this shame by telling someone.  You may even pick up helpful hints and ideas by having a friend involved in helping you achieve your goal.  Someone who can lift you up when you are feeling down.

4) Find the plan that works best for you

One size only fits all for selling books.  Everyone is unique with their own set of issues and personalities.  In reading books, know that some of their solutions may help you while others may not.  They key is to try on the new ideas and see what works for you and use those ideas.  Do not give up if an idea does not work for you, just move on to the next idea.

5) Go beneath the symptom and treat the problem

Much of the current advice is on how to cut spending and to increase income in order to save more.  Yet, many of these issues are symptoms of greater issues like lack of self-worth, fear of money or worry about scarcity.  These are the issues that need to be addressed versus what we do with money.  Money is just energy.  When we see the disruption of the flow of energy (e.g., with debt), then we need to find the cause and not just treat the symptom (e.g., debt).  It is similar to a sleeping pill; you can take it a night or two if you are having a temporary issue.  Yet, if the issue is still around days later, the sleeping pill is only treating the symptom (lack of sleep), rather than the cause.  So what are the causes of your money problems?

6) Become empowered

Many programs today are very regimented to make it easy for people to follow their advice.  For example, "Pay Yourself First" advice is about saving of 10 percent automatically and makes it easy to set up and to follow.  This is not bad advice.  However, it is set up this way under the assumption that people will spend money that they have (lack of self-control).  Thus, it sets up a plan to save money automatically, without  dealing with the self-control issue.  This is just treating the symptom and not the cause.  I find automatic saving plans are great if they are in conjunction with setting up a budget and choosing to set aside a certain amount of money.  This is different than just "Pay Yourself First".  By doing a budget, the person is taking control over their money versus money controlling them.  This is the first step to getting out of the struggle is by taking control.  Once you have control, it is easier to adapt to what life throws at you (e.g., higher gas prices) because you have already know what part of the budget you can rearrange.

7) Look at what will happen if you succeed?

One question that should be asked is how is your current situation (good or bad) serving me?  You may ask how can something like debt or not saving for retirement be helping me?  There are several reasons that your subconscious may be thinking.  One of the main reasons may be that we tend to want what we are use to.  If we are use to money being a struggle, we tend to find situation in which money continues to be a struggle. 

Part of this is due to the chemical reaction in our brain which is created when we are stressed and struggling.  Our bodies get use to this chemical reaction (just like it gets use to chemical effects of tobacco, alcohol or drugs) where our brain wants to find situations to create a similar chemical reaction (just like procrastinators thrive on the adrenaline rush of just meeting a deadline). 

Another part is sometimes our social network may be based on others who are in similar situations.  If we get a promotion or end our financial struggle, do we believe that we might lose our friends because now we have one less thing to talk about (e.g., money struggles or bashing your boss - if you get a promotion to become the boss).   If we talk about how bad the economy is with our friends and our financial struggles end, what is left to talk about?

Or, we just may not want to change.  We fear what may be on the other side of the road.  If we view rich people as greedy, why would we want to become like them?  Even though we do not want to become greedy, we deny ourselves wealth because we think wealth will lead to greed.

So how may your financial struggles be serving you?
Topic Menu

The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only.  We make no guarantees regarding the accuracy, completeness, or applicability of any material presented on this website.  This website is not a substitute for individual financial or counseling advice.  You should seek the advice of a professional regarding your particular situation.  My Financial Awareness is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial decisions.

Copyright © 2008 by My Financial Awareness, L.L.C.
E-mail questions and comments to pete @ myfinancialawareness.com