A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

You Will Fall Down

I’m the father of three great kids. I’ve taken two of them through the process of learning to ride a bicycle. (Number 3 has a few years before she has a go.) I distinctly remember standing with each of them at the top of a grassy hill at a local park, ready to let them loose under the tender mercies of gravity. I told them what was going to happen, and every step that they needed to take. Steer straight. Keep pedaling.

The words I never told them?

“You’re going to fall down.”

I knew it was going to happen, but I also know how powerful that kind of suggestion can be when learning a new skill. It was better for them to just fall, realize that it wasn’t so bad, and try again. It wouldn’t earn me any Father of the Year awards, but it got the job done. They both ride great.

Maybe I should have let them know what was coming, though. The fact is, whenever we start to learn a new skill, we’re going to fall down. Failure is always an option. If it weren’t, then success wouldn’t be worth it. Falling down is how we learn to do things better.

When I coach someone to put together their very first budget as a family, I know that it’s not going to go perfectly. Expenses will be underestimated or forgotten. Or there won’t be enough open communication to get all of the numbers right. Or they won’t hold themselves accountable to their plan. All of that is expected and normal. It just can’t stay that way.

Look, if how you handle your money is the biggest problem in your life – if your debt payments are overwhelming you, and you can’t see how to pay all of your bills – then working to make that better is the biggest opportunity you have to improve your life. Seizing that opportunity will require you to make a series of small, difficult changes, because there isn’t a single magic step you’ll take that will fix it all. To get the results you need it’s going to take time and practice.

After that first budget fails, talk about what mistakes were made and identify how it can be done better. With each month, it’ll improve more and more. Soon enough, there’s a good habit and a working plan.

And then you’ll fall down again.

Even after three years of being financially responsible and doing a lot of really good things, my family still makes mistakes. We’re still learning new lessons and figuring out new ways to do it better.

So, take the risk. You’ll probably fall down. That’s alright. Just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep trying.

Question: Is fear of failure keeping you from trying something new? How many times have you told yourself that you can’t make a budget because it just doesn’t work? What can you do today to help pick yourself up and try again?

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , | Comments Off on You Will Fall Down

Finding Financial Peace

This week, we’re beginning a new session of Financial Peace University at one of our local churches. We already have about 30 people signed up, and I’m personally hoping for a lot to happen over the next couple of months. I’ve got a few reasons to be excited.

  • Dave Ramsey and his team have recently reworked the course. The last time they updated was before the housing crash, so I’m expecting some new information in regards to that. There are so many people hurting in this area because of their out of control house payments, and I hope that we can really offer a few people some help.
  • We have a few families attending. Parents are taking the time to make sure that their older children have learned the basics of handling money before they go out into the world. I love that.
  • The course is now nine weeks instead of thirteen. I’m going to miss some of the material that’s been cut, but a shorter time commitment probably means more class retention, which is a good thing. Also, we might be able to fit in an additional session every year, and that would be awesome.

Here are the nine lessons:

  1. Super Saving – Why you should save money, and why you need to start now.
  2. Relating With Money – Why families must work together to achieve financial goals.
  3. Cash Flow Planning – How to develop a monthly budget that really works.
  4. Dumping Debt – What myths we believe about debt, and how to become debt free.
  5. Buyer Beware – Why marketing is so powerful, and how to reduce it’s influence.
  6. The Role of Insurance – What insurance you need to have, and what to avoid.
  7. Retirement and College Planning – How to plan for the future.
  8. Real Estate and Mortgages – How to buy or sell a home.
  9. The Great Misunderstanding – Why you should live a generous life.

If you’ve never taken Financial Peace University, I highly recommend it. It’s a great first step for families who are struggling with money issues and don’t know where to start. If you’re in the Tucson area, and you’re interested in joining a class, let me know. Send me an email and I’ll see if I can hook you up.

Question: Have you taken FPU? What was your experience? What was the most important thing you learned? How did it change your life and your finances?

August 20, 2012 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Work and Money | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick Hits of the Week

  • Writing your first home budget can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never really thought about all the possible goods and services that your household needs every month. Nothing is worse than getting to the middle of the month and realizing that you’ve forgotten to budget for pet food, or toiletries. To help avoid a surprise, I recommend working from a list like this one to start with. You may still miss something (this list excludes a house alarm, for example) but it’ll get your brain working about where your money is going.
  • I’m not quite up to eliminating 92% of my online arguments, but I’m a lot better than I’ve been in the past. The best thing that I learned to do was to wait until after my knee was done jerking around to start writing. A good 80% of the time that means I won’t feel like writing at all. I think Jon Acuff’s advice might be able to help me knock out that next 12%.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Best Defense…

As a financial coach, one of my key responsibilities is to teach you, my client, strategies to overcome your financial troubles and to start succeeding with money. When that happens, it frees you to be more generous and more available to follow your dreams. When that happens in the lives of enough people, it can change the world, and I love being a part of that.

Not a place. Not a time. But a battle of wit and skill and strategy and little plastic playing pieces with numbers on...I'll come in again.But, I digress.

And I really just want to discuss that word strategy. It’s important. When you’re choosing a strategy, you are deciding on a plan of action, and developing tactics to fall back on when things don’t go according to that plan. Every winning strategy has two key components: Offense and defense.

OFFENSE

This is your income. However it is that you go out and bring the money home is time spent on the offensive.

And we spend a lot of time and effort on the offensive.

We work long hours to earn overtime and get big bonuses.

We fight and negotiate for better raises and compensation.

If the money is good, we move into management. We might even change careers altogether.

There’s nothing wrong with having a great offense. In fact, without it, you’re not even in the game at all. You need to put forth your best effort if you want to succeed. Never sell yourself short when it comes to your income.

However, beware the opposite problem. You can’t spend all of your time and effort on the offense. There’s a common misconception that if you earn enough income, your money will take care of itself. That if your offense is good enough you can ignore your…

DEFENSE

… and that’s a lie.

Your defense is all about your spending. How well you control every dollar leaving your home is time spent on the defensive.

And we don’t usually focus a lot of time or effort on the defensive. Spending still happens, because it has to, but we don’t like to think about the when, where, and why about each dollar that leaves.

Off the top of your head, do you know how much you spent on food last year? What about clothing?

How much do you annually spend on your electric bill? What about your mortgage payment?

How big a chunk of your yearly income do each one of those items take?

Being great on defense means not only knowing how much is going where, but also being careful and frugal when spending.

This is where I spend most of my time when coaching people. When a family is forced to come face to face with their poor spending habits and complete lack of defense, when they see how little they must have to survive, and how much is being wasted, they’re free to change. Their budget becomes the key to achieving goals and their ultimate success.

So, how’s your strategy? Is your offense hurting? There’s only so much you can cut before you have deal with your income. Don’t neglect your offense.

Is your defense in shambles? No matter how much you earn, you will always find ways to spend it if you don’t have a plan. You have to start making a budget. Don’t neglect your defense.

Questions: What’s your strategy? How’s your defense? Get political and think about how great your city government is on offense and defense. How could changing individual families habits affect the community you live in?

August 13, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Best Defense…