I recently interviewed a financial planner for an investment website. He was understandably cautious about the economy, but bullish when it comes to family finances for individuals and how we can be financially healthy. “What makes you so optimistic?” I asked. “Well, we always have something to learn,” he said. “And a booster shot here and there to our fiscal common sense can go a long way.”
He pointed out that it is easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to finances. But the key to success isn’t so much in scoring a big win with some investment as in eliminating conflict between our values and our behavior. In a way, it was a conversation about family leadership as well as responsibility. “It’s not about making people wealthy but being healthy,” he said. Here are 7 steps to being financially healthy.
1. Be grateful.
Gratitude changes our perspective and roots our approach to finances in healthy soil.Gratitude changes our perspective and roots our approach to finances in healthy soil. Reality is that for every problem there are many blessings; gratitude for what we have helps our focus remain healthy.
2. Begin to dream again.
Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” When we stop dreaming we forget to look forward. A healthy approach to finances must be able to look beyond the limitations of today, or this month, or even this year.
3. Inventory your value system.
Does your financial behavior match your values? What really matters? Do we follow our values? If we say, for example, that our family values time together, then how do our financial decisions support that? If we value social justice, do we invest in companies that promote fair trade and actually do good in the world?
4. Count your opportunities.
When we look at how we invest our time and our talents as well as our resources we are better equipped to understand our financial wellbeing as it relates to the world’s needs. Understanding how we interface with opportunities to serve helps clarify values and adds perspective.
5. Count your resources.
How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are? Take inventory. Look at the asset side and the liability side. What do we have to work with? This helps with focus.
6. Set your goals.
Set goals financial and otherwise. You may want to be debt free or create an emergency fund, or make sure your children graduate college free and clear. Include estate planning here – 50% of people have no will.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is very important. There are resources no matter where your struggles are. Talk with your pastor, a neighbor, a planner. But don’t be afraid. See 7 Key Elements to Building Financial Security.
Sound off: Do you believe your values should affect your financial choices?
Huddle with your kids and ask, “Imagine you had $1,000 to spend. Now how might our family values impact your decision?”