ST. CROIX INSIGHTS
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BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC
One resolution I adopted (and actually maintained) over this past year was to ask myself two key questions around nearly every decision I made. Some of you may already ask yourself these questions when faced with a decision without even realizing it.
About two years ago, my best buddy Terry turned me on to a book called Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. The first ninety pages or so had me hook, line, and sinker. The book didn’t say anything you or I don’t already know, but the information was, as they say, “presented in an impactful way.” It certainly impacted me.
Let me back up a bit. Terry wanted to help his kids prepare financially for today and tomorrow, so with the book as our guide, we set ourselves on a journey. Over the course of six months, we started having “family meetings” every few weeks to help his kids prepare for their money, life, and dreams, not only for today, but also for the future inheritance they would receive one day.
Money is not always easy. Sometimes it’s complicated. And it’s almost always a pain to think about, let alone deal with. (Three key reasons I do what I do.) Your Money or Your Life helped us get our minds right and broke down the whole journey for us so we could see clearly what decisions were or weren’t in alignment with achieving our goal.
During these family meetings, I began to share my own personal financial journey, which I’d been learning or relearning, not only from this book but in my daily walk of life. I felt I needed to join Terry and his family on this important transformation. That’s how I started asking myself two key questions at the onset of any financial decision:
- Does this simplify my financial life?
- Do I want to spend my life energy on this?
Today, if it doesn’t simplify my financial life, I’ll pass—and if it doesn’t cross the threshold of something I’m willing to work night and day to have, I won’t spend my life energy on it. Put another way, if I don’t need it, I won’t buy it or direct my financial resources, time, or energy toward it.
Around the time of these family meetings, my car lease was up on my Honda Accord (I know—such a fancy car you drive, Brett). I asked myself, “Do I really need to lease a new vehicle? Do I want to spend my life energy on making the monthly payments?”
The easy option was to just push the decision down the road and lease another vehicle. (Who doesn’t love that new car smell?) I was tempted. I took a few test drives and even brought a new car home for the day. (Dealers will let you do that, you know. After all, they want to sell you a car!) Plus, as a business owner, I could deduct the lease payments. It would all be so easy.
Or, the alternative: I could just purchase the Honda outright, have no car payments for the next ten years, and plan on paying cash for the next car.
At the next family meeting, I was able to share that I had just purchased the car outright and planned on driving it into the ground before purchasing the next one. If I hadn’t read Robin and Dominguez’s book and had the discussions I’d been having with Terry and his family, I know I would have made the “easy” decision—and paid for another lease each month.
Our society tells us we can have it all, even when our checkbooks say otherwise, and society makes it far too easy to have things today and pay for them tomorrow, the next month, and the month after that. But no matter what short-term need we’re addressing when we spend what we don’t have, debt limits our future lifestyles.
Put another way: debt sucks.
That’s why I continue to use a dream board to stay focused on what’s most important to me and remind myself where I should be directing my resources, time, and energy. Being purposeful with our resources is powerful and freeing, and for me, that outweighed the need for a new car. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be purchasing cars again in the future; I just won’t do it as often as I used to, nor will I spend as much when I do buy. This frees me to continue to focus my life energy on the things I really want.
Many of you reading this have children who will one day inherit a meaningful amount of money. Are your kids prepared to handle your resources in a meaningful way? If you have doubts, it’s time to consider a strategy to help change that. A great starting place is for you to read Your Money or Your Life.
There is something reassuring about having money in the bank, being impactful with others financially, and knowing that you and I can continue to master our money and accomplish what is truly important to each of us. With a good strategy in place for the future of your finances, you can help ensure that your family will enjoy that reassurance for years to come.
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