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How To Know When You’ve Arrived: 3 Steps To Financial Enlightenment

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April 19, 2019

I spend a lot of time working on quantitative items during the wealth management process (both for myself and for clients).  Sometimes it can feel as though life is all about spreadsheets.  There is tremendous value in performing numerical analysis and benchmarking for wealth goals or for most type of goals.  During the process of achievement, one of the more difficult tasks associated with our journey is coming up with “the number” or “the goal” or “the end game” when we envision crossing the finish line in the endurance race of wealth building.

But wealth doesn’t necessarily come with an easy to identify number that represents the finish line.  There isn’t a clear cut “end game” like in other areas of success.  As much as we might like identifying a single number that represents crossing the finish line, it doesn’t work like that.  It’s not like somebody who has a $1 million dollar investment portfolio goal has a totally different life that changes like a light switch going from “off” to “on” when they went from $999,999 to $1,000,001.  $2 of additional wealth on a piece of paper changed very little about their daily logistics.

In athletics, things often come down to black and white.  You won the championship or you didn’t.  You made the team, or you didn’t.  You won the game or you didn’t.  You won a gold medal, or you didn’t.  Things can often be clearer in separating out success from failure.

With wealth building, we usually don’t get those black and white moments.  Financial success can be more vague or elusive.  Here are three steps to financial enlightenment as you try to get your arms around goals and defining success;

  1. Having a quantifiable list of goals in numerical terms is important. But the numbers only validate and help us experience “a feeling.”  (Oh no, we aren’t going to talk about feelings are we?)  Yes, we are.  Wealth is plenty psychological.  Because wealth is ultimately a “FEELING” of security or independence.  The number required to experience that “feeling” can be very different from one person to the next.  What we are chasing is “the feeling” of security, “the feeling” of independence, “the feeling” of control and “the feeling” of success.  Similar numbers can make different people feel very different things.  It’s the feeling you get that counts.
  2. Being debt free often is the catalyst of “feeling” financially free. Let’s face it, when you owe somebody or some organization money, you are an indentured servant that is forced to keep doing something (whether you like it or not) in order to keep paying the debt off (plus interest).  When people become debt free, “they feel” different about themselves because they broke the chains of indebtedness.  They own their assets and they own their future freedom to do what it is that they want to do or pursue.  They are no longer forced to do something just to earn the money required to eliminate a debt burden.
  3. Being busy isn’t always a bad thing. Controlling your own time is usually always a great thing.  Know the difference.  How much time during each of your limited days on earth is spent doing things because you have to (in order to keep the financial boat afloat) versus what you really want to do?  Control over your time is a huge measure of wealth (this doesn’t show up on any financial statement).  Do you have to set an alarm clock every day?  Do you even wear a watch?  What if you had worked hard to position your life where you had total control over your time?  You got up when you were rested.  You ate when you were hungry.  You exercised when you felt like doing some physical activity.  You napped when you were tired.  You read when your mind was hungry for information.  How close or far are you from totally controlling your time?  Wealth isn’t about being a lazy slug with no purpose.  Wealth is about controlling your time.

Wealth is more than numbers on a statement or a chart.  Wealth is about “feelings” and about control over our time.  Once you recognize and identify “the feelings” that you desire, then you could put together a financial plan and set up your life in a way that positions you to replicate those feelings as often as possible.  The hard part about the human experience is that we often feel that we need more money.  Wanting and needing more (and more) is just how we are wired.  But reconciling that back to the qualitative factors can help us identify how much is enough and also will prevent us from chasing material items that move us away from healthy feelings of accomplishment.  Requiring perpetual consumption of material goods and services usually doesn’t lead towards deep and lasting feelings of success and financial freedom.  Only when we position our lives in a way that we consistently “feel” good about security, independence, freedom and control over our time do we reach enlightenment.

Real financial wealth is accomplished when we build a robust financial life where we always feel secure and in control.  Compare that to others who no matter what they earn, their lifestyles are set up in a way that is so extravagant that they are always on a fast treadmill that is ready to throw them off the back.  Their lives (and feelings) are very fragile.

Good habits lead to good behaviors.  Good behaviors lead to good decisions.  Good decisions lead to a good life.  Live by principles and choose wisely.

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These are the EXACT same 5 steps I used to get out of DEBT permanently.

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These are the EXACT same steps I used to PERMANENTLY get rid of my mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, and auto loan debt.

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