Financial Life Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

What's Past Is Prologue

Does your money history set you up for failure or success?

The  influences of the outside world crashes into our lives with the frequency of breathing.  The goal is to exert as much influence over your thinking and more importantly how and where you spend  your money.  The list is endless; what car to drive, beer to drink, clothes to wear...on and on, sending us the message that unless you buy this, wear this or do this you are not successful.

Some of us can resist this constant barrage of mind-numbing messaging because we have internal messaging imprinted that tells us that savings for the future, protecting our families and safeguarding against loss of job, untimely death or prudently preparing for retirement is more important than buying that bauble or spending frivolously.  That imprint comes from childhood, watching , listening and parroting what you saw and heard.  The same is true for those who grew up with parents who were committed to showing their "wealth" regardless of whether that wealth as real or not.  The latter example would tend to spend foolishly without regard to considering the prudence of that choice.

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Our money messages are typically invisible to us, unless we are made aware of them by thinking back and remembering what you saw or heard. 

Ask yourself the following:

1. What was the work ethic of your mother and father?

2. What is the one-sentence message regarding money that have stuck with you since childhood?

3. Where did you hear that message?

4. In your family, was money an "issue"? A source of conflict? A tool for achieving goals?

5. In your current financial life, are you more a spender or a saver?

6. In your current financial life, are you more of an avoider or a worrier?

With these answers in hand, you now have a starting point to assess the type of money messages you have playing in your head.  Are they sound fundamental principles or is there work to be done?

If your money history has led you into a less than desirable financial position, then it's time to consider what changes need to be made and what positive messages can replace those that are broken and unsupportive. Like any other challenge that requires change, you must first decide that there is no alternative-it is a MUST. As Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over expecting to get a different result is the definition of insanity.

You might think about a time when money wasn't a problem and examine how that happened.  Or think about a time when you saved for something or were debt-free; think about your financial successes and use them as models for the future. In order to achieve financial success you want to establish a rational plan with realistic goals and time lines. Remember, you are in control of your financial decisions.

Building new positive money messages will enable you to break the cycle of financial woes and broken dreams.  It is a day-by-day and step-by-step process, after all, the past need not be prologue.

Michael F. Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Life Focus.

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