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Winning the Personal Finance Battle

I was at my daughter’s volleyball game the other day and saw a familiar quote from a famous Chinese strategist. “Every battle is won before it is ever fought.” It basically illustrates the point that while playing the game is key, it is planning and the better prepared that will ultimately be victorious. A well-planned strategy is the most important predictor of success.

In my years of financial coaching, I have noticed something that may surprise you. Many of us are under the impression that most families are not actively working on and in their finances. I have found that not to be true.

Frankly, most of the families I counsel are working to understand where their money is going and are staying involved in all the areas that are demanding of their resources. They feel the stress of trying to keep all the balls in the air and are actively working to make this part of their life better. They can likely tell you where their majority of their money was spent each month. So, they are in the battle and fighting hard.

However, the main difference between those that are successful and those that are not tends to come down to one simple truth. Those that are successful can tell you where their money is going each month and not just where it has gone. Do you see that subtle but important difference? Families that plan are invariably better off than those that are just reacting each month.

For example, I worked with one couple that had an elaborate system for how they spent their money but were just overwhelmed month to month. I suggested they use that creative energy to predict, plan and make changes before they actually got in the middle of it. The blank stares just demonstrated the irony and begged the question, “Why plan for something that is just going to happen to us anyway?” Breaking the cycle, many times, means doing the exact opposite of what we are doing today.

Monthly planning reduces stress, allows you to prepare and make better decisions, and help lead you to a better future. “Every battle is won before it is ever fought.”

So, how can you prepare?

1. Complete a spending plan for the next month. Sit down, map our your expenses, make any adjustments and then track it over the month. Plan where your money is going to be spent vs. just reacting. Knowledge is power.

2. Take a financial education course- Learn how to make changes that will benefit you and your family long term. One option is the STAFF program at If you are a church, employer or a non-profit organization, consider offering this program to those you support. Whichever option you choose, resolve to take that first step this week.

3. Connect with other financial professionals that can help you plan for your specific situation. We will advise you of several financial education relationships Storing Treasures has with others over the coming months that will help you plan for your financial future.

Every smart military commander knows about the importance of preparation and planning. It is time for each of us to put on our best military uniform and map out our next move.

Mike Haswell


Storing Treasures

Family and Money Part 2 of 3

Remember in our last segment we said “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.

In this segment, we are going to discuss some very practical ways you can communicate more effectively about financial issues.

• Spend time working together with your spouse as a team. Each of you has strengths when it comes to handling money. Use them!
• Set aside a regular time and place to discuss spending needs for the upcoming week. If it helps, find a quiet place away from home like a coffee shop or café to have this discussion.
• Do not hide the truth – little white lies about purchases or increasing debt can snowball quickly. Be honest so mole hills do not become mountains.
• Debt is one of the greatest challenges in a marriage. Agree together on a plan to reduce debt. I have seen amazing reductions in debt when husbands and wives put their plans on paper.
• Share this information with your children. Most people claim they learned to handle money from watching their parents. Be a role model.
• Set short (0-2 years), medium (2-5 years) and long term (5+ years) goals together and action plans to meet them. Revisit these every year.
• Get your finances in order by focusing on your values. Sign up for a personal financial management program…check out STAFF as a consideration.
• Learn more about your financial personality and the financial personality of your spouse. Take a FREE financial personality assessment at

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 strength of your marriage.