What I have noticed most in the past ten years of being entrenched in this financial literacy business (and it is a business even though there there’s more passion than profit in it…more on that later), is that human beings tend to make their lives complicated.
Most of these ‘complications’ take money and I have found that the people I have coached, usually didn’t stop to consider how much those complications were going to cost them.
What do complications look like? Well, this is where someone else might watch their words but I just like to call things as I see them, so here goes.
1) Houses: too big, too many, too expensive. All in the guise of ‘the investment’ and not wanting to pay taxes. Well, I have news for you. You pay those taxes whether you own the house or not. If you rent, they are built into your rent.
Now I know what you’re thinking…but what about owning my home when I retire and not having any more payments. That would be great if that’s what most people were still doing and if houses didn’t cost an arm and a leg now (at least where I live…it still makes sense in some parts of the country). Most people I know, regardless of age, still have mortgages…often because they got sucked into the ‘let’s take money out of the house and invest it in another house’ idea. Oh goody, now you have two houses to worry about.
The problem I see often is that the second house, hopefully a rental, doesn’t bring in enough cash flow to 1) pay for a property manager or 2) warrant the effort on your part playing said property manager.
What are your options? Well, it really depends on your lifestyle. If you’re married with children, you might really like owning your own home. But on the other hand, if you’re like me, and you like the freedom that comes from not having to be financially beholden to a house, then you might just want to rent and invest your money in something else.
2) Kids: too many, too late. Seriously…I love kids. You know that or I wouldn’t be teaching them regularly but again, I’m speaking from years of coaching experience and talking to people at financial seminars and such.
I notice that though everyone says how much they love their kids…and I certainly wouldn’t trade my son for anything!…if they had to do it over again, they admit they’d have one or two and have them earlier in life.
3) Pets: too many, too big, too small a house, wrong reason. OK, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You get the dog because your son or daughter says ‘they’ will take care of it but we all know who usually ends up taking care of it…YOU! And then the dog (or cat, or fish, or cow) gets sick and costs you thousands of dollars you didn’t have earmarked for a pet’s medical bills. You have no idea how often I talk to someone who is in serious debt because their pet got sick.
Again, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE dogs and cats and horses and cows and you name it, I’ll pet it but I’m so happy it belongs to someone else.
4) Cars: too new, too expensive, too little gas efficiency. Here’s the scoop…every summer we get scholarship applications from parents who want a scholarship to send their kids to our Camp Millionaire programs. We require them to complete simple income and expense statements and 99% of the time, the CAR PAYMENTS and expenses are sky high…often in excess of 30-40% of their low incomes. You can only imagine the rolling of the eyes I do when I see these figures and they want ME to give them a break!
Seriously, what are these people thinking? I teach our kids to buy used cars, pay them off and drive them until they die. And IF they want to buy a new car or a fancy car? Great…create the monthly passive income to service the payments or make enough money to buy it outright.
5) Stuff, aka Piddlyjunk: Look around your house and you know exactly what I mean. Look in your closet…what percentage of the clothing do you actually wear. Look in your garage (or better yet, don’t!). Look in your closets, your drawers, your sheds. Look under your clothing at the exercise equipment you bought with good intentions.
Piddlyjunk is everywhere and it’s only job, other than to make you happy for a brief moment, is to prevent you from being financially secure sooner.
Now there is nothing wrong with piddlyjunk. It’s just most Americans waste too much money on it…money that probably should have been invested rather than spent.
OK…I’m finished for today.
My point and invitation to you is to take more time considering how your choices are:
1) Going to complicate your financial life and,
2) Going to increase your financial responsibilities.
Then simply ask yourself how else you could satisfy that ‘want’ and uncomplicate your life instead?
Just something else to think about as we approach the new year.