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Money is Symbolic

Money is Symbolic

Money is symbolic.

Sure, it’s a source of value and a medium of exchange. But above all, it’s a symbol.

What is a symbol? It’s a visible representation of something that’s invisible.

Think about it—can you see success? Not really. It’s an abstract idea. So money is largely how people evaluate if they’re succeeding or failing.

What do you see when you imagine a successful person? Expensive cars, big houses, fancy clothes, and lots of zeros in a bank account.

Those are the symbols of success. And make no mistake—money is the central symbol of success.

How do you feel when your bank account looks full? You probably feel awesome! You get a quick rush, and your steps are just a touch lighter.

But what about when you’re in debt or when you can’t make ends meet? Maybe you feel not so great. You might become stressed and anxious, and feel like you’re not good enough.

That’s because money is a visible representation of your success or failure. It’s a way to keep score.

You see that loaded bank account, and you think “Everything looks good! I’ve really got my act together.”

You see an empty bank account, and you think “What have I been doing? I’ve really messed up my finances.”

Here’s the sticking point—the symbolic nature of money is great for motivation. But it’s terrible for guiding decisions.

Why? Because chasing the symbol can easily lead you to making moves that give you the appearance of wealth without being wealthy. You start buying things far beyond your budget to represent wealth you don’t actually have. This is the fast-track to living paycheck-to-paycheck.

But as motivation? That’s where the power of the symbol lies. Think about that bump you get when you see your net worth climb. Use that feeling as fuel to keep pushing when you hit roadblocks and obstacles.

So what does money mean to you? Is it a scorecard? A way to motivate yourself? Or something else entirely?

How you answer those questions will determine whether money is a powerful tool or a dangerous weapon in your life.


Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

What gets you more motivated—the reward or the process?

That’s the question that divides intrinsic motivation from extrinsic motivation. And learning the difference could salvage your career from disaster.

Why? Because different motivation types are useful in different circumstances.

Intrinsic motivation is process focused. It comes from the sense of satisfaction from a job well done. It’s why you keep coming back to hobbies you love, or why you’re compelled to work on that project even when it’s not required. You do it for the love of the game.

Extrinsic motivation is reward focused. It comes from the anticipation or acquisition of something tangible, like a trophy, a raise, praise, or a bonus. It’s the reason you put up with a high paying job you hate, or why you grind out those extra reps at the gym. You do it for the payoff.

Intrinsic motivation is internal, while extrinsic motivation is external.

Here’s the strategic difference—intrinsic motivation is powerful long-term, extrinsic motivation is powerful short-term.

Think about it. How long can you really tolerate that awful job? Eventually, it’ll wear you down, no matter the pay. It will tax your mental health, your relationships, and your quality of life. Trying to leverage reward motivation over the long-term is a recipe for burnout.

That being said, it’s excellent if you need a burst of energy. “Just a few more months, and then I’ll be debt free. I can make it.” Extrinsic motivation is often what we rely on to push through short-term challenges.

By contrast, intrinsic motivation can provide powerful groundwork for planning long-term goals. What are the hobbies and activities you find inherently rewarding? Are they career oriented? Family focused? That’s where you should focus your long-term energy.


Entrepreneurship Will Change You

Entrepreneurship Will Change You

Starting your own business can be a challenge.

It will test your talents, your mental toughness, and your ability to adapt. And those tests—if you pass them—can spark extraordinary growth.

Here are four ways entrepreneurship will change you.

You’ll develop self reliance. Entrepreneurs need to learn to solve their own problems, or fail. They don’t have a team to handle the daily grind of running a business.

Instead, new entrepreneurs handle everything from product development to accounting. It’s a stressful and high stakes juggling game.

But it can teach you a critical lesson: You’re far more resourceful than you thought. You’ll learn to stop waiting for help and start looking for solutions.

You’ll discover loyal friends. One of the downsides of entrepreneurship is that it may expose toxic people in your circle. They’re the ones who might…

  • Mock your new career
  • Feel threatened by your success
  • Try to one-up you when you share struggles

As you and your business grow, you may need to limit your interactions with them. They might be too draining on your emotional resources to justify long-term relationships.

Rather, your circle should reflect values like positivity, encouragement, and inspiration. Those new friends will support you through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

You’ll learn how to manage stress. Late nights, hard deadlines, and high stakes are the realities for entrepreneurs.

To cope, you must build a toolkit of skills that can carry you through the hardest times. Otherwise, you may crack under the pressure and lose any progress you’ve made.

It comes down to one key question: Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

Are you driven by insecurity? Or by vision?

If you’re trying to prove a point to yourself or others with your business, you may fall apart at the first hint of failure.

If you’re driven by vision, you’ll see failure as part of the process.

Examine your motivations. Over time, you’ll grow more aware of your insecurities. Talk about them with your friends, families, and mentors. As you bring them into the light, you may find they have less and less power.

Entrepreneurship can spark an explosion of professional personal growth. You’ll grow up. You may start with an employee mindset, but you’ll mature into a leader. That’s how entrepreneurship will change you.

P.S. If this seems daunting, start with a side hustle. It can ease you into the role of entrepreneurship without throwing you into the deep end too soon!


When Should You Retire?

When Should You Retire?

Have you ever thought about when you want to retire?

You’ve probably daydreamed about what you want to do when you no longer have to withstand the 9-to-5 routine. But do you know when you want retirement to become a reality?

The average retirement age for people in the US is about 63. However, there’s a large group of people who continue to work past 65.¹ Two motivations that could be contributing to this situation are:

  • They choose to work but don’t have to.
  • They have no choice but to keep working.

It’s apparent that the first option might be preferable to the latter – even if you love what you do.

Here’s why: having the choice is better than having no choice at all. Imagine that as you approach the time when you want to retire that you love your job and experience a lot of satisfaction in what you do. But there’s no option for you to stop even if you wanted to because of bills or obligations to yourself or your family.

As you approach retirement age – whatever that may be – there could be other things in your life that matter to you that come into conflict with the job you love. Some of these “other things” may include (but aren’t limited to) spending time with family, volunteering at an organization you’re passionate about, traveling the world, etc. Except for a lucky few, most can’t both traveling around the world AND work the job they love. That’s when having the resources to choose comes in handy.

It’s important to have a strategy to reach your retirement goals, whether it’s retiring at age 65 or earlier. Having a plan in place doesn’t mean you absolutely have to retire. But at least you’ll have the flexibility to do so!


¹ “Average Retirement Age In The United States,” Dana Anspach, The Balance, Jul 31, 2020, http://bit.ly/2nW9AWJ.


Set Yourself Up For (Financial) Success In The New Year

Set Yourself Up For (Financial) Success In The New Year

A new year is a massive opportunity.

There’s something liberating about closing one chapter of your life and beginning a new one. You realize that this year doesn’t have to be like last year, and that there are countless possibilities for growth.

Now is the perfect time to write a new financial chapter of your life.

In the mindset of new beginnings, the first thing is to forgive yourself for the mistakes of the past and start fresh. Now is your chance to set yourself up for financial success this year and potentially for years to come. Here are three simple steps you can take starting January 1st that might make this new chapter of your life the best one yet!

Automate wise money decisions ASAP. What if there were a way to go to the gym once that somehow made you steadily stronger throughout the year? One workout would be all you need to achieve your lifting goals!

That’s exactly what automating savings and bill payments does for your finances.

All you have to do is determine how much you want to save and where, set up automatic deposits, and watch your savings grow. It’s like making a year’s worth of wise financial decisions in one fell swoop!

Give your debt the cold shoulder. Debt doesn’t have to dictate your story in the new year. You can reclaim your cash flow from monthly payments and devote it to building wealth. Resolve to reduce how much you owe over the next 12 months, and then implement one of these two powerful debt strategies…

Arrange your debts on a sheet of paper, starting with the highest interest rate and working down. Direct as much financial firepower as you can at that first debt. Once you’ve cleared it, use the extra resources you’ve freed up to crush the next one even faster. This strategy is called the Debt Avalanche.

-Or-

Arrange your debts on a sheet paper, starting with the smallest debt and working up to the largest. Eliminate the smallest debt first and then work up to the largest debt. This is called the Debt Snowball. It can be a slower strategy over the long-haul, but it can sometimes provide more motivation to keep going because you’re knocking out smaller goals faster.

Start a side hustle. You might not have thought much about this before, but you may have what it takes to create a successful side hustle. Just take a moment and think about your hobbies and skills. Love playing guitar? Start teaching lessons, or see if you can start gigging at weddings or events. Are you an embroidery master? Start selling your creations online. Your potential to transform your existing talents into income streams is only limited by your imagination!

Start this new year strong. Automate a year’s worth of wise financial decisions ASAP, and then evaluate what your next steps should be. You may even want to meet with a qualified and licensed financial professional to help you uncover strategies and techniques that can further reduce your debt and increase your cash flow. Whatever you choose, you’ll have set yourself up for a year full of potential for financial success!


New Year, New (Financial) You!

New Year, New (Financial) You!

The new year is best known for resolutions. The trouble is that many new year’s resolutions don’t survive past the first month or so.

Why is that? You might suspect it’s because we set unrealistic goals or lack the proper motivation.

If you’ve got some financial resolutions you want to stick to, the key is to set realistic goals and have the proper discipline to hang in there, especially when the going gets tough.

Consider the following tips. Everyone can improve their finances and – as a bonus – you won’t end up with a basement full of barely-used exercise equipment that’s standing in for clothes drying racks.

Put away your credit cards
Do you have a fireproof box at home? (You probably should to store your extra-important documents, like the title to your car or your will.) This might be the perfect place for your credit cards. Many families struggle with credit card debt and in many cases, they aren’t even sure where the money actually went.

Credit can be a crutch that only ends up helping us postpone healthy financial habits. The frequent result is years of accumulating interest payments and growing balances that may prevent you from maximizing your savings. (Debt also may lead to household friction.) Lock the credit cards in the strongbox and make a pact with the rest of your household to use a credit card just for when you have a real emergency – and this would only occur if you’ve depleted your normal emergency fund.

Get your own life insurance policy
It’s great to see families insured by at least an employer-sponsored policy, but how insured are they really? Employer plans usually don’t follow you to the next job, and the benefit for your family is typically limited to a fixed amount, such as $50,000, or in some cases up to one to two times your salary.[i] That’s probably not enough coverage for your family – and it might disappear at any time if you were to change jobs. Get a quote for your own life insurance policy that better meets your needs and that you can control.

Make a budget
Many of us think we know where our money goes, but making a budget will illuminate your spending in vivid, full-color detail. You might startle your family with loud exclamations as you realize how much you actually spend on gourmet coffee stops, eating out, clothes, golf accessories, etc. It can add up quickly. A budget may not only help you cut spending, but it may also help you build your emergency savings (yes, this should be a budget item) and start piling away more money for retirement (another necessary budget item).

Know your number
Nope, not the winning lottery number. In this case, your number is the one that can help you reach a financial goal. Saving for retirement without knowing how much you’ll need or how much you can put away each month is like running a race blindfolded. You need to see the course and the finish line ahead. That’s your number. Whether saving, paying down debt, or accomplishing any other financial goal, you need to identify the number that will define your short-term targets and help you reach your ultimate destination.

If you need help with your goals or aren’t sure how to find the number you need to know to prepare for your future, reach out. I have some ideas we can discuss.


[i] https://www.policygenius.com/life-insurance/group-life-insurance/

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