Winning Foundations: Looking Forward

Do you realize that we are now closing on the end of the 1st decade of the 21st century? That fact hit me yesterday as I thought about the end of this year 2010.

A lot has changed in the past ten years including the most significant event of the decade in my view, the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

After that day, concepts such as “terror alert levels” and “war on terror” became part of our existence, we are fighting wars on two fronts, and of course air travel changed forever.

Perhaps you are at that point of looking back on the year that is about to end (what went well, what did not go so well). Or perhaps you are more focused on looking forward and working on your resolutions for the new year.

I am not particularly big on New Year’s resolutions although I understand the motivation behind them. You want to do better, you want to accomplish some things, and the beginning of a new year seems like the perfect time for making a change.

However, most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned before the end of March and in some cases even before January runs out.

The problem with most of the resolutions is that they are either too aggressive (e.g., losing 100 pounds by June) or not specific enough (e.g., I want to be a better person this year).

One of the most common areas for New Year’s resolutions is of course money management: saving more money and spending less, paying down debt, saving for the kids’ college, saving for retirement, etc. But if you don’t have specific goals and a specific plan, that desire for change can fail to produce positive results.

So instead of making resolutions for the New Year, I focus on taking steps that will lead me to making permanent changes in my habits. Let me give you an example. For years I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight. Numerous times I have tried with the best of intentions to lose weight and failed miserably.

However, this year I was able to lose 25 pounds. What was the difference? I entered a structured program with specific steps, guidelines, and regular checkpoints to monitor my progress.  More importantly, I was held accountable to myself and others for sticking with the program.

With that in mind, over the next few weeks in January I will provide you with specific steps for building a complete Financial Management Plan. This will help you to get started on attaining your goals for this year. At that same time, you will begin to build the healthy habits that will set you up for financial success for years to come.

As we begin that conversation let me ask you the following:

  • Are you really ready for trying new ways for managing your finances?
  • Are you really ready to sacrifice and do what it takes to change the future of your household?
  • Are you really ready to endure the ups and downs that you are likely to experience so you can see this to the end?

As you ponder these questions over the next couple of days let me give you this encouragement: this is not about what has happened in the past. We can learn from our mistakes but we do not need to dwell on them.

We need to move on and look forward to where we are headed and that is to better results with your finances. I promise you that changing your habits for money management will be hard work but it is completely worth it.  I can help you get there.

Happy New Year!

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,”
Philippians 3:13 (NASB)

The Best Gift

One of the traditions my wife and I have is that we set aside one day during the Christmas season to get  all of our Christmas shopping done. We go during the week, just before school ends, so we don’t have to deal with the crowds or the rush of just before Christmas. We spend the entire day shopping for those on our list and as a bonus we get to spend great quality time together.

As I looked over our list, it made me think about some real valuable gifts you can give yourself and your family for the new year. These are not gifts you would find on Amazon.com or at the mall but they can be the kind of gift that will make a great difference for your family for years to come. So, as you work on what to get for everyone on your list, consider these gift ideas:

  • A Written Plan for Your Money: Will this be the year that you will start living on a budget? Will this be the year that you will learn to have a game plan so you control your money instead of your money controlling you?
  • A Fully Funded Emergency Fund: Will this be the year that you make savings a priority so you can deal with the unexpected expenses that are sure to come in the new year without going into debt? A fully funded emergency fund will cover 3 to 6 months of household expenses.
  • Life Insurance: Will this be the year that you will address the issue of having proper life insurance? Too many Americans live without life insurance and they put their families at risk. You need coverage of  8 to 10 times of your annual income. The best option is Term Life Insurance and it is extremely affordable.
  • A Will: Will this be the year that you and your spouse sit down and do a written will? Having a will would give those around you the instructions on what to do with your assets in the case of your passing. In the midst of the grief of losing you, think about how it would help not having the burden of trying to figure out what to do with your stuff. There are very easy and affordable options to prepare a state specific will.

All of these gifts have one thing in common: they will bring peace to your life by bringing control to your finances. These are the kinds of gifts that will demonstrate how much you care for your family. If you need help, I can counsel you through each of these steps. Do not let another year pass by without taking care of these components of your financial plan.

May your Christmas be filled with the perfect peace that can only come from the Prince of Peace!

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and  saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:11-14 (ESV)