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Made in Texas
12 minutes | Jan 8, 2019
Day 22 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Courage “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.” - William James Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s taking action in spite of our fear. Let’s face it—life is complex, and nothing is assured. There are no sure-fire investments, and no one can guarantee tomorrow for any of us. People who demand guarantees are often paralyzed because they are afraid to take any risks, but life is full of risks. We certainly don’t want to take foolish risks, but we need to embrace the adventure of life, and adventures necessarily involve some risks. I’ve met with hundreds of people and helped each of them design a financial plan based on what matters most, their current situations, and their goals. But that’s not enough. To get to those goals, each of them has to take steps to write checks, not spend too much, and take the specific steps toward the future they’ve envisioned. Most of these people have the courage to take those steps, but some are like a skier who gets his gear and skis on, buys a lift ticket, rides to the top of the mountain, and stands at the top of the slope . . . and stands and stands and stands. If people with financial plans don’t push off and head down the mountain, they can avoid risk, but they miss out on all the joy, fun, and thrill of seeing their life’s goals fulfilled. Every time we muster the courage to take a step, we develop that most precious commodity: character. And as we take step after step, we realize that even more opportunities wait for us—like going from a green slope, to blue, to black, and maybe even to black diamond! Jesus Walks on Water That evening his disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn't come back, they got into the boat and headed out across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them as they rowed, and the sea grew very rough. They were three or four miles out when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, "I am here! Don't be afraid." Then they were eager to let him in, and immediately the boat arrived at their destination! Coming up Next… Day 23 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Trust “Trust is what matters most in any relationship” - That was the very First line in my very first book: What Matters Most released on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, 2004.
14 minutes | Jan 8, 2019
Day 21 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Hope Day 21 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” - Albert Einstein Genuine hope can be a slippery and elusive thing. Some people have been hurt or they’ve failed badly in the past, and they have given up all hope, but on the other end of the scale, some divorce hope from reality and believe that things will somehow magically work out without having to deal with the painful truth. True hope blends a rigorous grasp of reality with tenacious optimism. Admiral James Stockdale was the highest-ranking American prisoner of war in Viet Nam. For years, he languished in the “Hanoi Hilton,” his days alternating between boredom and torture. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. Through those long, mind-numbing, hope-killing years, Stockdale waited to be rescued, but until the war was over, American soldiers never came. In his book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins recalls a conversation he had with the Admiral many years after the war. Stockdale talked of his commitment to be realistic about his situation as a POW, and Collins asked, “Who didn’t make it?” “The optimists,” Stockdale replied. Collins was surprised. He wondered, Wouldn’t optimism be a necessary trait for a prisoner to hang on to? The Admiral explained that “the optimists” were those who clung to the hope that they’d get out of prison by the next Christmas. When that didn’t happen, they believed they’d get out by Easter. When that didn’t occur, they convinced themselves they’d be freed by a certain date in the summer. Sooner or later, the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations eroded their ability to make it through another day of confinement and torture. Many of these men died in prison of a broken heart. Stockdale faced the same torment and loneliness, but he held tightly to two perspectives: Retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be. Collins calls this dual perspective on hardship “The Stockdale Paradox.” **[Jim Collins, Good to Great, Harper Business, New York, 2001, p. 86.] Story of the Persistent Widow One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. 'I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, ‘but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!' " Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?" Coming Up Next... Day 22 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Courage “Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.” - William James
15 minutes | Jan 1, 2019
Day 20 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Steps of Change “Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on earth's this spell we're under? We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are.” - Styx, The Grand Illusion I hope you’ve already taken some steps forward to identify your purpose and connect your resources to what matters most, but in case you need a bit more encouragement, I want to offer some perspectives that may help. As I’ve thought about my own struggles and the struggles of friends and clients, I’ve noticed seven steps we can take. Honesty For a traveler who’s lost, the first step is to find out where he is. As long as he refuses to admit he’s lost, he’ll keep going in the wrong direction. For years, I honestly thought that devoting my life to success in my career was the right thing to do. I didn’t wake up each morning and think, Today, I’m going to ruin myself and my family by pursuing the wrong purpose. But that’s exactly what I did. In the last few years, I’ve learned to value honesty as one of the highest virtues. It’s hard for most of us to be really truthful with ourselves or with someone else (especially our spouse), but it’s the necessary first step in finding purpose and reclaiming a life that’s out of control. As I’ve talked to people about the process of change, some of them have commented that they are afraid of losing control. But in most cases, their perception of the threat is an illusion. Many of them think they actually have control of their lives, but they are spiraling out of control, hurting the ones they love and robbing them of the happiness and fulfillment they long for. In reality, we are only in control when we have a purpose, a plan, and a strategy to accomplish what matters most to us. Some people think a budget is too constricting, but a friend of mine told me that his budget gives him incredible peace and freedom because he doesn’t have to worry about money all day, every day. A young couple, Brian and Alicia, told me that when they were in pre-marriage counseling, the counselor asked them to tell each other the thing they most feared. They were terrified to be so painfully honest with each other, but they swallowed hard, looked at each other, and spoke the truth about secret fears that had haunted them. Brian told me, “I really didn’t want to tell Alicia those things, but as soon as a I did, I realized that now she knew the worst about me, so I didn’t have to be afraid any more. She knew, and she still loved me. Being honest with each other has given us incredible freedom to enjoy each other.” Honesty can do the same thing for each of us, if we speak the truth about money: our hopes, our fears, our secrets, and our new commitments. Receiving the Light "No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lampstand to give light to all who enter the room. Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."
14 minutes | Dec 31, 2018
Day 19 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
No vision for the future “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” - Victor Hugo I’ve known some people who were so absorbed in having fun today that they don’t think beyond the next party, the next cruise, or the next ski trip. They want all they can get, and they want it now. To them, money is only valuable if it meets their immediate desires. I’ve known a few of these people who lied, stole, and cheated to get what they want. Sure, we can all find excuses to explain why we do the dumb things we do, and I’ve either heard or used most of the ones about neglecting to do any financial planning. But when I think of these excuses, I remember a single mom who charted a course for her son’s future even though she has very modest means, or a couple with a disabled child who found resources they (and I) never knew existed, or a lady whose husband had a heart attack when he was in his mid-40s, without disability and with no income for months. She looked at the reality of their situation, found the help she needed, and boldly made decisions that kept their family on solid financial ground. Heroes all. Story of the Two Sons "But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go. Which of the two was obeying his father?" They replied, "The first, of course." Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I assure you, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the way to life, and you didn't believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to turn from your sins and believe him. Up Next... Day 20 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Steps of Change “Someday soon we'll stop to ponder what on earth's this spell we're under? We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are.” - Styx, The Grand Illusion
17 minutes | Dec 30, 2018
Day 18 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Why No Change? “A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” - Francis Bacon Why do some people recognize their choices and make decisions that enhance their lives, but others fail to see choices, or see them and fail to act? There may be many different reasons, but I want to highlight a few. Lack of information I’ve talked to a lot of people of all ages who simply didn’t have any background in financial issues, so they weren’t aware of their options in managing their money. Some of them had seen countless ads about investments, but for some reason, they always thought they were for somebody else. A little information, though, can work wonders. Many of these people devoured the booklets and charts I gave them, and they scoured the web sites I sent them to—and they learned what they needed to know to make good decisions with their money. The wound I know people who experienced the devastating trauma of abuse, the emotional scraping of habitual criticism, or the gnawing pain of abandonment. These wounds affect every area of our lives, including how we manage money. They distort our ability to perceive things accurately, and they drive us to take big risks to hit it big and prove ourselves, do whatever others want to please them and earn approval, or hide from any form of risk to protect ourselves from hurt again. Wounded people have additional hurdles to overcome, but I’ve seen many of them face their hurts with courage and learn life’s richest lessons about love, life, and money. These men and women learned the hard way, but they learned. When we’ve been deeply hurt, we feel like victims, talk like victims, and act like victims. Victims blame others for their problems, and they remain paralyzed, unwilling or unable to take steps forward. Certainly, an honest assessment of our lives includes the fact that we’ve been hurt, and we can then grieve the losses, forgive the offender, and move on with our lives. Some people prefer the convenience of blaming others rather than taking responsibility for their futures. Moving forward takes a lot of courage, but it’s the path of healing and growth. Shame Some of us have given up. In the past, we may have tried to make life work, but we failed. Or maybe we never tried at all. For some reason, we feel hopeless and helpless, letting life just pass us by. People who feel ashamed focus their attention on themselves, but they sure don’t like what they see! Their view of life is, “Nothing will ever go right, and if I try, I’ll just mess things up.” They put on masks to try to look happy and competent so nobody will know what’s really going on inside, but the gloom of shame doesn’t result in a positive, future oriented, purposeful life (or an effective financial plan). The Highway to Hell "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” Up Next... Day 19 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count No vision for the future “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” - Victor Hugo
13 minutes | Dec 29, 2018
Day 17 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Critical Moments “The best way out is always through.” - Robert Frost Earlier, we identified four types of people and how they manage money. People in each category come to a moment of choice when they either move forward or stay stuck in a rut. Many people who are buried in debt have continued to make poor decisions because they don’t want to face painful realities. Robert and Joyce had made countless bad decisions over the years, and now in their 50s, they found themselves with a mountain of debt and virtually no assets. They owned their home, but they had borrowed on the equity every time the market went up a few thousand dollars. Four credit cards were maxed out, and they owed more on their cars than they were worth. By the time they came to see me, creditors had been calling for six months, and they faced a torrent of demand letters. Joyce had seen it coming for years, but Robert always made excuses and laughed off any problems. Now, though, Joyce wasn’t willing to listen to Robert’s lies any longer. She insisted that they get help. “If you won’t face the facts,” she growled at him in anger, “I’m going to leave you. You can count on it!” That did it. Robert never imagined that their financial problems would come to that, but Joyce simply couldn’t handle the multiple strains of financial stress and relational discord. Something had to give. (She thought about murder, but she ruled it out.) Leaving him would at least give her some distance so she could reclaim her life. The look in Joyce’s eyes told Robert that this time, her threat was real. He told her, “I don’t know what to do, but I’ll call Jim. Maybe he can help us.” Immediately, Robert called me, and in an hour, he and Joyce sat in my office pouring out their hearts. Robert obviously felt very uncomfortable, especially when Joyce’s anger flared several times. But he took it like a man. After we talked for a while, I outlined a simple plan to move them toward the black. Robert listened carefully. At the end, I asked, “Robert, are you willing to commit yourself to this plan?” He looked me in the eyes and said simply, “Whatever it takes.” And he meant it. The road for them has been difficult, but they’re making really good progress. Tune in a few months from now, and I think you’ll see that they’re completely out of debt. But that’s only part of the story. Robert’s new honesty has opened the doors that his denial had closed in his relationship with Joyce. They aren’t out of debt yet, but they’re happier than they’ve been in years. Joyce told me recently, “I feel like we’ve gotten our lives back.” Effective Prayer "Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You parents--if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Up Next... Day 18 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Why No Change? “A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” - Francis Bacon
12 minutes | Dec 23, 2018
Day 16 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Day 16 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Re-Think About Your Money 18:24 “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” - Aristotle 1. On a scale of 0 (nada) to 10 (the max), rate your need to address each of these small steps in your life. (Each of these is independent, so you don’t have to rank them in order. Each can be any number that fits.) —The magic of compound interest —Risk early, not late —The perfect investment —Don’t handcuff your kids with handouts —Give ‘em choices —The snowball effect —Dress for success —Two for one — The real cost of a cup of coffee and a car 2. Which of these have been modeled to you by your parents or friends? How has that modeling shaped your decisions? 3. Look back and the numbers for the real cost of a cup of coffee and a car. Do these figures motivate you to make any changes in your consumption? If so, would you use the money you save on other purchases you’d like to make, or would you save and invest that money? Explain your answer. 4. Have you taken any small steps that resulted in big payoffs? If you have, describe them. Teaching about Giving to the Needy "Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. Tomorrow’s episode Day 17 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Critical Moments “The best way out is always through.” - Robert Frost
16 minutes | Dec 21, 2018
Day 15 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
A Wise Man Has a Clear Plan “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” - Confucius The wisest man on earth had a lot to say about financial planning. Even a casual reading of the Proverbs shows us that Solomon understood the importance of having a clear, intentional plan for handling money. Throughout his statements in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he reminds us that a plan helps us make good choices, and those choices make a difference—a big difference. He wrote, “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind” (Proverb 21:5). Small steps in the right direction, he assures us, eventually take us places we want to go. He observed, “Work your garden—you'll end up with plenty of food; play and party—you'll end up with an empty plate. Committed and persistent work pays off; get-rich-quick schemes are rip-offs” (Proverbs 28:19-20). In the study of wealthy people in The Millionaire Next Door and in my observations of people who have attained both financial and relational wealth, we see that seemingly small steps of planning and choices to be frugal in spending are two of the hallmarks of people who accumulate real wealth. That’s not a secret. We can all apply these basic lessons of life. Tune in tomorrow for our story about... The Rich Man Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: "Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good. But as for your question, you know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.' " The man replied, "I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child." "There is still one thing you lack," Jesus said. "Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this, he became sad because he was very rich. Jesus watched him go and then said to his disciples, "How hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!" Those who heard this said, "Then who in the world can be saved?" He replied, "What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God." Peter said, "We have left our homes and followed you." "Yes," Jesus replied, "and I assure you, everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, as well as receiving eternal life in the world to come." Coming soon... Day 16 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Re-Think About Your Money 18:24 “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” - Aristotle
14 minutes | Dec 20, 2018
Day 14 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Weed-Eaters and Gyroscopes I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph. - Shirley Temple You and I live all day, every day in the culture of self-indulgence. If we’re aware of it, we can do something about it. From my own experience, I’ve learned that living a life without a transcendent purpose is a dead end street. Santa Claus isn’t going to bail us out, and there’s much more to life than barely making it each month or living in fear that no amount of money is enough. For most of us, living a life of purpose will require some adjustments. The question is: Is it worth it? For me, the answer is emphatically “yes!” I’m still tempted by those messages that I deserve the newest this or the best that, but I’m far more aware of those messages today, so I can more clearly see the choices. Over the past decade, I’ve been reorienting my life according to the purposes that challenge me and fill my heart with gratitude. As I’ve looked beyond my own selfish needs and tried to meet some of the needs of those around me, I’ve seen God use me to touch a few lives—and that both humbles me and thrills me. Sure, I could work harder and make more money, but I’ve gradually become deeply convinced that there are things more important than a little more money. In his book, The Call, author Os Guinness described the powerful, clear sense of purpose in the lives of the Puritans as an internal gyroscope that kept them on track no matter what was going on around them. That’s what my purpose is becoming for me. Someday, each of us will receive a report card of our attitudes and behaviors. You and I have been given great wealth in time, resources, and abilities. Jesus once remarked, “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” (Luke12:48) If we squander those great gifts on meaningless things, we’ll regret it now, and we’ll regret it even more when the report card comes out. A good grade isn’t based on not having any weeds. No, we get a good grade because we had the perception to see the weeds of worry and selfishness, and we mustered the courage to pull them whenever we saw them. I want to be a good weed puller. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode... Day 15 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count A Wise Man Has a Clear Plan “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” - Confucius
11 minutes | Dec 19, 2018
Day 13 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Purpose and Contentment “Money often costs too much.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson People who are full of purpose and contentment arrived at their tipping point years before. Some had been taught valuable lessons when they were kids, and they made good choices early in their lives. Many others, though, lived for years deeply in debt, barely in the black, or fairly wealthy but without a sense of purpose. At some point, however, they realized that money, stuff, and hard work are all valuable up to a point, but life is about much more than things. It’s about people and purpose. They came to a point of decision, and they made a wise choice. In an earlier episode, we looked at Jesus’ parable about the soils, and we saw that the weeds of worry, deception, and greed have choked out the spiritual vitality of many people. Many of us have been choked like that, but at a point in time, we realized that we had a choice to go in a different direction and experience a life of joy, peace, and contentment. Today, people who are full of purpose and contentment still are tempted by worry, deception, and greed, but they see the weeds and take initiative to pull them before they choke their lives.
14 minutes | Dec 18, 2018
Day 12 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Tipping Point "Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed." - Mohandas K. Gandhi Several years ago, I was the classic example of a wealthy American who was always worried about getting more and keeping what I had. I had devoted my life to being a successful businessman, and I made a lot of money, but I felt strangely empty. One summer, I went with my son Brandon and our church on a mission trip to Haiti to build a church there. One morning I was on the roof of that little church cleaning the worksite with some friends and a few Haitian boys who had joined us. One of the boys came up to me and quietly said something in Creole. I couldn’t understand him, but he kept saying the same thing and pointing to my fanny pack. I yelled to a friend, “Hey Steve, what’s this boy saying to me?” Steve walked over and knelt down with his face to the little fella so he could hear him, then he turned to me with a pained expression and said, “He’s hungry, Jim. He wants you to give him the crackers in your pack.” That moment on the roof that morning was a tipping point for me. I had made plenty of money, but my life was empty. Here was a human being with desperate needs that I could meet with ease. I had lived my life with me in the center, on the throne, and in neon lights, but now I saw that God had given me resources that I could use to touch people’s lives. It was only a pack of crackers, but it was something I had that could make a difference. As I handed crackers to a hungry little boy that day, I knew my life would never be the same. The size of my portfolio can easily be measured and I was happy to brag about it. A couple weeks in Haiti made me realize that no amount of money could fill the spiritual void in my life. Years later, as I type these words, I’m impacted with the same deep sense of urgency and tension as that day when my thinking changed.
13 minutes | Dec 17, 2018
Day 11 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Two for One “There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.” - M. Scott Peck When Connie and I were poor, we sometimes went to nice restaurants and bought two meals. We seldom could eat everything on our plates (well, Connie couldn’t), but that, we were sure, was the price of going out to eat. Somewhere along the way, however, we realized that portions were so big that we could easily split a dinner and save a lot of money. For the past 15 years, we’ve seldom ordered two meals. We always have plenty to eat, and if we’re still hungry, we go wild and get dessert. Some people think that splitting a dinner somehow shortchanges waiters who have to do the same amount of work for half the tip. We solve that by giving a larger tip, so everybody’s happy. How much have we saved over the years? My estimate is that Connie and I go out to eat three times a week. (Yes, I know that’s a lot.) If we save an average of $12 on each meal, that’s $36 a week and $1872 a year. Over the 15 years, that comes to over $28,000 (with no interest on the money)! If we had paid that much each time, I’m not sure we’d have gone out to eat as much, or maybe we’d have gone to restaurants with cheaper meals. Even if we didn’t save that much money, we went to nice restaurants, enjoyed fine meals together, and stayed within our budget. That works for us!
11 minutes | Dec 16, 2018
Day 10 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Dress for Success “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” - M. Scott Peck My wife Connie is a smart shopper. We live on a budget, and part of that budget is her clothes allowance. Long ago, she found a way to beat the system. She realized that many upscale women’s resale shops have clothes she loves for a fraction of the price in department stores. These days, she feels like she’s splurging when she buys a couple of dresses in a month. They cost about $25 each instead of $150 or $200, so she comes out like a bandit! Learn more at FamilyWealthBuilder.com
12 minutes | Dec 15, 2018
Day 9 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Give Kids Choices “Without some goal and some effort to reach it, no one can live.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky Since we’re talking about children, Buck and Jeeta are friends who taught their son Todd valuable lessons about money by giving him simple, meaningful choices. When they went out to eat as a family and the waiter asked for their drink order, they asked Todd, “Do you want a Coke, or do you want a dollar?” Jeeta told me, “Todd’s pretty smart. He picked the dollar every time.” Buck and Jeeta found a teachable moment, and they used it over and over again to show their son that simple choices make a difference.
22 minutes | Dec 14, 2018
Day 8 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Day 8 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count Don’t Handcuff Your Kids with Handouts "One must work and dare if one really wants to live." - Vincent van Gogh We love our children, and we want to show it. Some of us show it by giving them lots of money, but the effects can be quite the opposite of our intentions. Instead of providing wings for them to fly, those funds handcuff them to the ground. Not all gifts of money shackle our children. We can use gifts of money to stimulate responsibility. For example, some parents offer to match dollar for dollar the money their children earn toward buying a car. That can have a very positive impact on a young person by teaching the fact that discipline and hard work yield rewards. Too much of a good thing—large gifts without expectations of responsibility—can genuinely harm our kids. In their study of millionaires, Stanley and Danko made a number of observations about parents who give money to their children. In retrospect, these conclusions seem to be obvious, but many wealthy parents don’t realize the negative impact they have by giving too much. Stanley and Danko found that receiving cash gifts produces kids whose lifestyle is characterized by consumption rather than saving and investing, and these kids become emotionally and financially dependent on their parents, often well into adulthood and until their parents die. * [Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, The Millionaire Next Door, (Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, New York, 1996), pp. 153-159.] Why do some parents give their kids too much? There are several possible answers. Some parents experienced hardships when they were young, and they simply want to protect their children from those difficulties. Other parents feel guilty that they haven’t been the mothers and fathers they know they should have been, and they try to compensate by giving cash and presents. Similarly, some parents try to buy their children’s love, or they may try to use money and lavish gifts to make their kids happy. The questions we need to ask are: —Am I giving money or things primarily for them or for me, to make me feel better as a parent because I’ve blown it so badly? —Will this gift build or destroy my child’s sense of independence and responsibility? In some cases, parents who have been giving too much to their kids for a long time have developed children with a debilitating, deep-seated dependence. Changing course at this point requires far more courage and communication than would have been necessary if they had changed directions earlier, but it’s still worth it. It’s never too late to wean a dependent child from his parents. The process may be painful, but it simply must be done if you want your children to become emotionally healthy adults. Ultimately, personal maturity, growth, and wisdom are stunted in young people who receive too much from their parents. Self-absorption ruins relationships, distorts purpose, and crushes drive that leads to achievement. Irresponsible adult children—that’s not a legacy any of us want to leave to our families. Teaching our kids some of these small steps early in life has a huge payoff for them and for us. Visit FamilyWealthBootcamp.com to learn more about our Family Financial Fitness Challenge for 2019.
15 minutes | Dec 13, 2018
Day 7 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Risk Early, Not Late "The time to relax is -- when you don't have time for it." - Sydney J. Harris Some people who come to see me are in their 50s, and they are desperate to make as much money in a few years before they hope to retire. They want me to put their money into high risk, and hopefully high yield, investments. A better way to look at it is to realize that higher risks make sense only for the long haul. Historically, the market has trended up over long periods of time, but it reacts with alarming volatility in short time spans. A casual glance at a graph of the Dow, S&P, or NASDAQ indices demonstrates these facts. For that reason, financial planning professionals generally recommend investments with lower risks for shorter time horizons, but if you can keep your money in place for a long time, you can ride out the ups and downs of the market and take advantage of higher risk instruments with higher returns. A young couple about 26 years old asked for my advice about investing their 403b. We talked about their goals and when they would need the money, and they agreed that they wouldn’t need it until their children (yet unborn, and to their knowledge, unconceived) went to college. I recommended an aggressive growth mutual fund. A couple in their 50s had a different look in their eyes. Instead of curiosity and confidence, panic filled their faces and voices. “I need to make as much as I can as quickly as I can,” the husband assured me. “We don’t know what might happen,” his wife agreed. I explained the principles of risks and time horizons, and reluctantly, they decided to invest in funds with less risk but greater stability. That proved to be a good choice because the market went down about the time she had major surgery and they needed to withdraw some of the funds. Choosing the lower risk investment saved them about $8000.
14 minutes | Dec 13, 2018
Family Stories a Gift to Share
Family Stories are for Sharing Your family stories are unique and precious, and they can be used to shape your family culture and help to build a lasting legacy for the next generation. With the holidays approaching, family stories may be one of the most lasting gifts you could ever give away. If your family has the opportunity to gather together this holiday season, consider a few key ideas for sharing your family stories. What’s your first memories of Christmas? What was your favorite gift growing up? Honestly, nobody cares. Believe it or not, your family stories will outlast any of the best “stuff” you could ever find wrapped under a Christmas tree. Family stories are like buried treasure; I’m hoping your family gets around to digging up the “Best Of” your family stories this holiday season. My Grandfather was named James Ray Bagwell. He was a captain in the US Army and he was a prisoner of war for three years in the Korean War. Grand Dad never liked to talk about the war and he never told me about his time as a POW. We had lots of talks and he shared lots of stories. Its been a couple decades since I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with my Grand Daddy. Man, what I would give to sit with him for an hour or two and share some coffee and pecan pie. Family Stories are like buried Treasure My name is James Ray Munchbach, I got my name and some of my core values from my Grandfather on my Mom’s side of the family. I never met my Grandpa Munchbach. This year, we lost Granny, my wife’s mom. Beverly Ann Maxwell was a very strong woman and one day I asked her: Tell me some of Your Family Stories… Beverly’s stories, like my Grand-dad’s stories were kind of hard. They were hard to hear because they were often filled with painful memories. Your family stories may be hard to hear and hard to tell, too, but I want to encourage you to think about it before you decide to avoid telling your family stories. In the end, all we have are stories. James Ray Bagwell, Beverly Maxwell, James Ray Munchbach, and Caleb James Meek. Caleb’s story is just beginning. He’s my first grand-baby and he came into this world about 6 months ago. His birth was a celebration. He’s been healthy and happy and full of energy and life. His mom, my daughter Carissa, and his dad, Jhamal are both becoming a big part of my family story. Life is good for the Munchbach family even though our stories have been hard to tell at times. Your family stories help to connect, especially for those members of your family who may be geographically scattered around the country or the globe. I’m thinking of Jason in my family. He’s on a nuclear submarine and won’t be home for Christmas. Or Nick who’s on a Navy Carrier somewhere out there. Your family stories are an especially important gift to the next generation. Your family stories and be listened to, shared, learned, told, and retold for generations to come. Your family stories create an experience in the telling and retelling of certain classic tales from your past. Sure, you might have to occasionally put up with a little eye rolling, but establishing a tradition of storytelling is a powerful tool for building trust, improving communication, and for passing down wisdom from one generation to the next. WHY SHARE YOUR FAMILY STORIES? One of the core values of healthy, thriving, strong, multigenerational families is consistently coming together as a family — for both fun and formal activities and events. While family storytelling at the holidays may feel fun-hearted, it’s also a powerful tool for strengthening your family culture. Storytelling helps your family build connections simply through learning a shared history that provides a solid foundation for success, significance, and satisfaction. Not to mention the benefit of growing the communication skills needed to navigate more challenging conversations along with the difficult decisions that are sure to come up in your family’s future. Programming note: We're currently working on 40 Days to Make Your Money Count which is part of season one from Podcast Houston Made in Texas. Our next series begins in 40 Days: Family Stories Part 1: Made in Texas
12 minutes | Dec 12, 2018
Day 6 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Money is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around encouraging young things to grow. ...from "The Matchmaker" - Thornton Wilder You can calculate the number of years it will take to double your money by using “The Rule of 72.” Simply divide the interest rate into 72, and the answer is the number of years for your investment to double. This works, of course, no matter how much money is invested, but it doesn’t take taxes into consideration. For example, if you have an account that is earning 8%, you divide 8 into 72, and you find that it will take 9 years for your money to double.
12 minutes | Dec 11, 2018
Day 5 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
The Magic of Compound Interest Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. - Woody Allen The impact of compound interest is perhaps the most significant factor in accumulating wealth. It doesn’t take a genius to understand it and use it. For instance, if a 20 year old puts $2000 a year for only 10 years into an IRA at 8% and never puts another dime into it, he’ll have over $1 million when he’s 65. But if his buddy waits until he’s 30 to begin and continues to put $2000 a year into the fund for 35 years until he’s 65, he won’t catch up to his early-bird friend. In these pages, I’ve mentioned the advantage of starting to invest regularly as early as possible, preferably in your early 20s. No, it’s not convenient, but through the magic of compound interest, it makes a world of difference. And if you’re well past that prime period to start this magic, teach this to your kids so they don’t miss it. Albert Einstein once said that compound interest, not E=mc2, “is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time." As usual, he’s right.
26 minutes | Dec 10, 2018
Day 4 of 40 Days to Make Your Money Count
Small Steps, Big Payoffs “I've spent $40,000 on shoes, and I have no place to live!? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!” —Carrie, Sex and the City, “Ring a Ding Ding, What's It All Worth?” In the last episode, we looked at seven important components of a financial strategy, but now we want to turn to some principles and practices that have caused a lot of people to say, “Wow! That’s incredible!” When we realize the implications of our decisions, we’ll see that these are small steps that result in surprisingly big payoffs. For example, a couple of friends try to eat lunch every day (that they aren’t meeting with clients) for less than $2 each. One of them explained, “I certainly don’t need to eat a big lunch every day, and besides that, we can have just as good a conversation over a $1.50 burrito as we can over a $10 trout. I don’t have all the money in the world, and I want my money to go into things I treasure: trips with my wife and kids. If I save $5 a day five days a week for 52 weeks, that’s $1300 I can spend on making memories for all of us. Pretty cool, huh?” Yes, that’s pretty cool. I’ve noticed that it’s kind of a game to these two guys. They aren’t obsessed with saving money on lunch, but they’re glad to find a good deal! In upcoming episodes, I'll share some insights, principles, and practical suggestions you might want to try.
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