Archive for the ‘Money & Relationships’ Category

Storing Treasures Hierarchy of Financial Progress

Recently, four employer and church groups completed the STAFF web-based financial coaching program. At the end of each session, we check in and see what the participants had to say about the benefits they received from going through the course.

Many of you have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This idea suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs. We created a Hierarchy of Financial Needs based on the feedback we received.

Assuming we have our basic needs met, there are three major areas that define our financial lives based on those that have graduated from the STAFF course. These areas build on each other and we call them the three “M’s

Storing Treasures Hierarchy

1. Makeup- this is your identity. It is important that we understand ourselves better and those around us. If communication and relationships are strained, it is very difficult to move up the pyramid.

Graduates of the STAFF program indicated understanding their financial personality helped them identify spending, debt, savings habits and how to make important changes. It also helped with communication with their spouse (if married) and kids. Those that completed the course recognized their unique strengths and how to be confident when making financial decisions or communicating with others.

Do you ask yourself these questions?
– Why do I keep doing ____________ financially?
– Why does my spouse keep doing ___________ financially?

 

“Know thyself” is a phrase first penned by Socrates. He believed that self-knowledge was important in order to find peace and direction. Romans talks about the importance of understanding our God-given gifts and that each gift (each of us) has a unique function. Understanding these gifts and our financial personality is key and our first step to moving forward financially. Humans are naturally curious. Once we understand the “why”, we can start to focus on the “what”.

2. Management- this is the regular handling, direction, and focus on our financial decisions. This is the time that we can make real strides in our money management from month to month.

STAFF graduates stated they were able to learn how to reduce their debt, set up an emergency savings plan and complete a monthly spending plan. Management is moving away from the paycheck to paycheck mentality and becoming proactive rather than reactive.

Monetary decisions are inter-related. Ever notice how one decision begins to impact other areas of your financial life. I worked with one couple recently that focused on setting up an emergency savings account. This caused them to be more intentional in their giving to others, more mindful of debt and the negative consequences, and more in charge of their spending from month to month.

3. Mission- Now this is the fun part…this has to do with who you are and where you want to go. This is your purpose fueled by a strong conviction.

STAFF graduates listed goal setting as a key part of their financial plan as it helped quantify their mission for the short, medium, and long term. Most of us have a vague idea of our goals but have never really sat down and mapped those out. According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, we are all 42% more likely to achieve our goals just by writing them down.

Secondly, other STAFF graduates discussed the course providing a foundation for additional education and setting the groundwork to starting a new business. Understanding ourselves and managing our money proactively allows us added opportunities to pursue our mission.

The Storing Treasures Mission is simple- “Discovering your Financial Personality inspires progress”. Financially, progress begins with just one small step.

Mike Haswell
Storing Treasures
President

Family and Money – Part 1 of 3

Growing up, you probably heard someone warn you that, “Money is the root of all evil”. Today, one of the most well known, well accepted statistics in this country is that “Money is the leading cause of divorce in America.” Well, neither of these statements are entirely true. To borrow a line from comedian and red neck philosopher, “Larry the Cable Guy”, to blame money for all the evil and divorce in this country is like blaming a pencil for misspelling words on a piece of paper. Let’s look at the facts?

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “For the love of money is the root of many evils.” Notice, it’s the love of money, not money itself, cited as the root of the problem. As for the out of control divorce problem that is plaguing our families, don’t blame money. As we teach and counsel couples on financial principles, there is a very common obstacle standing between a family and financial freedom. The obstacle is financial compatibility.

Financial compatibility is the level at which couples can effectively communicate about money and money related issues as they arise. Without this compatibility, discussions are nothing more that fights and solutions to problems which result in a struggle for power and control over the checkbook. When couples discover and understand their financial personalities, they can achieve higher level of financial compatibility. With this compatibility, couples can communicate effectively about money. Stress is reduced, fights are fewer, and marriages become stronger. This sounds simple but it’s not. If you and your spouse want to improve in this area, it takes both of you working together. But, if financial compatibility is the leading cause of divorce in this country, it’s worth the effort, right?

A recent study concluded that:

• American couples spend less than 12 minutes a month discussing their families’ finances.
• Most Pastors admit to feeling inadequately trained in the area of finances and financial counseling. Consequently, couples who participate in premarital counseling receive little to no useful training in this area.
• Schools fail to provide children training in basic money management. High schools and colleges have little to offer in the area of personal finance. When a student graduates from college today, they leave with a diploma and $35,200 in college-related debt (student loans, credit cards, and money owed to family members).
• Despite all that we know about the relationship between money issues and divorce, very few marriage seminars or marriage counselors spend any amount of time discussing financial compatibility or effective money management skills.

If your marriage is under financial attack, fight back. Stay Tuned for Part 2, “Strategies you can use to communicate with your spouse more effectively about money.”

Your Economic Discipline

Your Economic Discipline – 30 days to financial success

Discipline is just not a very popular word these days. Whenever it is mentioned, many people think back to elementary school when the teachers could paddle at the slightest hint of misbehavior.  When teachers figured out that putting holes in it made it travel faster, making a run for the hallway sounded like pretty good advice.

Discipline is actually nothing more than an activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves a skill. Personal financial management is a skill. Creating discipline means developing habits that produce the type of results that demonstrate good stewardship in our lives.

Dr. Andrew Weil states that “anything you do with repetition and emotion will become your reality. If you’re not satisfied with your current experience, examine your habits.”

Most experts agree that it takes about three weeks to form or break a habit. While this depends on the person and the issue, I have personally seen about a 30 day time period work time and time again with those I have financially coached.

Here’s an example- Sam has accumulated large amounts of debt and is tired of the endless cycle of borrowing from one credit card to pay the other. Sam has never used a spending plan and has no idea where he money is going. He signs up for online banking and completes his first spending plan at the beginning of March. And, here’s the repetition part…he takes just 5-10 minutes EVERY other day ensuring that he is staying on track by comparing his online banking account to his plan. Sam is forming a habit as he is acting with repetition and a desire to change his finances for the better. 

QUESTION- What financial habit do you complete that has had the most success with your finances?

Your Economic Identity

Socrates stated that the unexamined life isn’t worth living. While that statement can be viewed as extreme, it is obvious that a key first step to living a virtuous and full life is knowing yourself. All of us, at one time or another, have wondered why some financial advice works for others but not us. Understanding ourselves financially is the driver behind meeting our financial goals.

Shane Satterfield, Marketplace Chaplains, shares with us in the video below how Economic Identity matters in our relationships and how it impacts our financial decisions for the future. Please watch the quick video and consider how financial behaviors play out in your family.
Your Economic Identity.avi
Your Economic Identity.avi
Shane has really identified an important issue….  Financial decisions based on other’s success, without a clear understanding of ourselves, can lead to frustration and anxiety. We are all uniquely wired and it is our financial personality that drives our behavior. There is no right or wrong economic identity and this process is not about changing who we are….it is a recognition that we each have specific strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the table. Each of us has two traits that influence how we think and two traits that influence how we behave regarding finances. By understanding how we think and behave, we can then make financial decisions that work for us.

 

Romans 12: 4-8 clearly states we each have different gifts. What are your financial tendencies and how can they be used to help build your financial future? Storing Treasures goal is to help you unpack those behaviors and create a long term plan that works for you and your family.

Your Economic Motivation

 

motivation  

The American Psychological Association completed a study about issues that cause significant stress in our lives. An incredible 76% of those surveyed indicated money was at the top of the list of significant stresses and relationships were second at 55%.  So, how do we begin to tackle the first rung of the ladder to become motivated to make positive financial changes in our lives and then SUSTAIN that momentum over the long term?
 
Motivation is a term that refers to a process that elicits, controls, and sustains certain behaviors.  I have had the opportunity to financially counsel singles and couples for over 20 years and have learned both the importance of motivation and key principles to stay engaged over the long haul. Listed below are seven of the most important  principles to remain financially motivated.

 

1. Understanding your role-  Have you ever worked at a job where you were confused about your role and seemed unable to motivate yourself to perform at a high level?  Understanding our role as stewards  can be one of the most rewarding and motivating aspects of the Christian walk. Take a moment and read Matthew 25: 14-30. MT 25: 14 states “The kingdom of God is just like a man about to go on a journey; who called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them.” 
– We are managers and not owners.
– God has entrusted us with resources (talents).
– We are expected to manage those resources based on HIS principles.
 
Once a stewardship mentality is understood, motivation to make changes becomes an important part of our daily lives.
 

2.  Understanding your financial personality-  In my years of counseling, I have yet to find a more powerful motivator to improving financial success than understanding financial personality. The focus here is on grasping our unique wiring and then realizing how we think and behave matters in being a good steward and reaching our financial goals. We need to eradicate the shame, guilt, frustration, (put your word here) by moving past what we SHOULD do and focus on WHO we are. More to come next week on this topic in “Your Economic Identity.”

3. Focus on the “why”. The first step is to focus on the “why” of our values and goals instead of the “how. Julia Belyavsky Bayuk, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware, cites research that planning exactly how you will reach a goal, such as paying down debt, can actually make it harder to reach that goal if you dismiss the “why” behind it. For example, if you run off to complete a budget because you are overspending but do not focus on “why” you overspend, the positive effect and motivation to continue will be short-lived. The budget is just a tool…nothing more. Your first focus should be on your behavior. As you are getting started, focus on the motivation behind a goal first before the goal itself.    

 

4.  Dream- Begin with the end in mind- Take a few moments and answer this question. “10 years from now, the dream for my family’s finances is _____________.  Take some time and list out some of your dreams for your family finances. Include your spouse (if married) and complete a list together. Think big- don’t be constrained by where you are today. Then, post that list of dreams in a place that will inspire you to reach for the stars. Vision is one of the most important motivators we have…lets use it with our money!

   
5.   Embrace your circumstances- Circumstances in our lives can be a very powerful motivator to making changes. It could be the realization that you cannot do this any longer; it could be a bankruptcy or foreclosure; it could be that you are just tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Pain can be a very powerful motivator….if this is your story, embrace it and use it to make long lasting changes.  Your finances may not be in trouble but just on autopilot and you want to change your financial life for the better. Many of us have seen financial freedom modeled by friends or family and a simple motivation may be reaching out to that person for some support.
 
 6.  Create milestones and goals-    If you want to stay motivated to succeed with your finances, goal-setting is a must. Without goals, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting allows you to take control of your life’s direction and purpose. Luke 14:28-30 clearly states the importance of goal-setting. The key point is to do this by understanding your unique wiring. Goal setting and financial personality is an important part of our teaching so contact us if this is an area you want to explore. Remember- there are plenty of tools that help you set goals….our focus is on the behavior that will allow you to stay motivated long term.
 
7.    Track your progress-  Think of changes to your financial health as a marathon and not a sprint. Many of us did not get into financial strain over night and we will not get out of it that quickly either. However, the long term benefits to realizing your dreams and being financially free is an awesome journey you will never regret. So, how is this done?  One of the best ways to evaluate the long term impact of your financial focus is your net worth. List your assets and liabilities today and calculate that number. Then, estimate where you will be a year from now based on the changes you are implementing in your life. Continue evaluating where you are at least twice a year to see if you are moving forward.
 
“An object in motion will remain in motion and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”  You are that force- get motivated to make a difference!
 
We’d like to hear from you- how do you get motivated in the area of money?
 
 
Looking forward to sharing about Economic Identity next week.
 
Blessings,
 
Mike

Setting the Record Straight About Marriage and Money

Growing up, you probably heard someone warn you that, “Money is the root of all evil”. Today, one of the most well known, well accepted statistics in this country is that “Money is the leading cause of divorce in America.” Well, neither of these statements is entirely true.

To borrow a line from comedian and red neck philosopher, “Larry the Cable Guy”, to blame money for all the evil and divorce in this country is like blaming a pencil for misspelling words on a piece of paper. Let’s look at the facts.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “For the love of money is the root of many evils.” Notice, it’s the love of money, not money itself, cited as the root of the problem. As for the out of control divorce problem that is plaguing our families, don’t blame money. As we teach and council couples on financial principles, there is a very common obstacle standing between a family and financial freedom. The obstacle is financial compatibility.

Financial compatibility is the level at which couples can effectively communicate about money and money related issues as they arise in a household. Without this compatibility, discussions are nothing more that fights and solutions to problems result in a struggle for power and control over the checkbook.

When couples discover and understand their financial personalities, they can achieve higher level of financial compatibility. With this compatibility, couples can communicate effectively about money. Stress is reduced, fights are fewer, and marriages become stronger. This sounds simple but it’s not. If you and your spouse want to improve in this area, it takes both of you working together. But, if financial compatibility is the leading cause of divorce in this country, it’s worth the effort, right? Let’s examine how much effort we are putting towards this issue in our country.

  • A recent study concluded that American couples spend less than 12 minutes a month discussing their families’ finances.
  • Most Pastors admit to feeling inadequately trained in the area of finances and financial counseling. Consequently, couples who participate in premarital counseling receive little to no useful training in this area.
  • Schools fail to provide children training in basic money management. High schools and colleges have little to offer in the area of personal finance. However, college students are a favorite target of credit card companies. When a student graduates from college today, they leave with a diploma and an average credit card balance of $3,500.

Despite all that we know about the relationship between money issues and divorce, very few marriage seminars or marriage counselors spend any amount of time discussing financial compatibility or effective money management skills.

If your marriage is under financial attack, fight back. Money problems usually have little to do with money. The problems are usually rooted in a lack of communication between spouses and a need to brush up on money management skills.

  • Take a Christian based money management course. There is plenty of practical wisdom about money in God’s word.
  • Spend time talking with your spouse about your families’ financial situation. Don’t force one spouse to take on the entire weight of the household money management.
  • Set aside regular time to discuss spending needs for the upcoming month. If it helps, find a quiet place away from home like a coffee shop or café to have this discussion.
  • Share this information with your children. Don’t let them become a statistic. Most people claim they learned to handle money from watching their parents. Be a role model.

Money touches every area of our life. When couples begin discussing money issues, they will begin discussing other issues affecting their marriage. Improving your financial compatibility will improve the overall compatibility of your marriage.

If you would like to learn more about your financial personality, becoming more financially compatible, money management strategies and getting out of debt, contact us →