Excerpt from "A Girl and Her Money"
A Brief and Painless Analogy
HOW ARE YOUR TEETH? MINE ARE GREAT. TWICE a year, Mom took me to Doc Taylor’s office overlooking Main Street where he would tell me I had maybe one cavity; the rest looked great, and I should keep flossing. Eighty-some dental visits later, they’re beautiful, and because they’re my only set, I treat all thirty of them very well (two belligerent molars started a fight and had to go).
I do the same for my car. It goes to Milito's for a regular oil change because I figure if I’m good to my car, it’ll be good to me. I brush the winter salt off my shoes and buff them to make that leather look great one more season. My silks and wools travel regularly to the dry cleaner to ensure they retain their shape and longevity. The heating/cooling guy sees my furnace and air conditioner annually, checking Freon levels and CO output, ensuring the health and safety of my house and me.
I love my body (it’s my only one) and cherish my relatively good health. I see my internist, gynecologist, mammogram technician, and dermatologist for checkups. I hope to keep myself in exceptional condition through old age. My fuel intake reflects this: I avoid dairy products, processed flours and sugars, caffeine, and alcohol, and opt instead for vegetables, fruits, and soy things. I take herbs to boost my immune system. I exercise and do yoga to keep back pain, mental sluggishness, and other stuff I don’t want at bay.
I tend to my spiritual health as well. I meditate, read the Bible, and get appropriately, uncomfortably challenged by my minister, all of which help to keep me spiritually strong.
I get lots of love from my social circle; I return the love and do volunteer work.
My life—most of the time—is fairly well-rounded. OK, this is embarrassing to admit, so go easy on me, but I’ll tell you the truth: I have been less inclined to take as meticulous care of my capital assets as I have my merino wool sweater with the marinara sauce spilled down the front. I’ll rush that sweater right over to Don’s Cleaners. I’ll run my car over to Milito’s at the first funny sound in the engine. I dash out for decongestants at the first sense of heaviness in my sinuses. I call my friends at the first whiff of a blue mood. I re-sew loose buttons, fertilize my flowers, and keep my bicycle oiled. The truth is, I don’t always care for my financial assets as well as I do my body, house, clothes, and car.
So years went by before I bothered to notice I was paying 28 cents per minute for long-distance calls. Meanwhile, the rest of you had figured out the call-pack plans of your local and long-distance carriers and were averaging 4.2 cents per minute from Jacksonville to Juneau. Sometimes all you have to do is actually read those statements.
Sign of the Times
As if bound for Oprah-land, we women of the third millennium are fixated on holistic balance in our lives—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Yet notoriously, our financial health is left wanting. As chicklets who just want to have fun, we don’t really want to think about the fact that we outlive the men in our lives and have smaller pension plans because we tend to get paid less and work fewer years. The fact is, dear sweet girl on the go, you do not want to wake up someday to discover your physical assets have outlived your financial assets—yikes! So we must give both equal care. In fact, excellent physical health will positively impact your financial health—healthcare expense can be a huge drain on your finances. Moreover, financial disease has been known to instigate physical fitness.
So if I keep taking such good care of my body, and if I inherited longevity genes from Grandma Durling--who was fit as a fiddle till she died of an infected toe in her 107th year—and if I could just quit my jaywalking habit, it’s altogether likely I’ll be sprinting into my nineties. So it’s all the more important that I do the same for my financial assets as I do for my teeth, merino sweater, and car—that I know where my finances are, with whom they are cavorting, whether they need a new spark plug, some cleaning solution, braces, or a vaccination.
bottom line is this: Why would you take excellent care of your teeth—assuming
you do, oh sweet-breathed one—and not ensure that the result of your
lifetime work is also kept in sparkly white, cavity-free condition,
fully protected from rot, thievery and an early demise?
It’s All about You
You see, what you do today profoundly affects your future. You must make financial decisions as if your life depended on it. In fact—it does. The tiniest of decisions add up to a critical mass that can make or break your financial future. What you think about, and therefore what actions you take now, profoundly impacts your future.
Money isn’t easy. It is as complicated as any relationship. It requires the attention, nurture, and communication demanded of a marriage. But the investment of your time and attention always pays: Attending to your relationship with money will bring greater satisfaction to your life. Maybe you and your money will even attend a few counseling sessions together. By calling for a peaceful truce with your finances, you will dissolve distaste for paying bills, contributing to your retirement fund, and giving to charity In fact, you’ll look forward to opportunities to give and save.
When you see money as your friend or sibling you'll want to work to make that relationship succeed It s all about the relationship—your feelings about money, your behavior with it, and your respect for it. When you give up trying to control money and can relax around it you will view it differently. From your new perspective you'll see your little bits of money as something in your favor there to please and suit you.
not fall in love with your money? Because it doesn't
work that way. Sometime around the tenth century B. C. a wise
King Solomon spoke the truth: "Whoever loves money never has money
enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied." I don’t want
a lifetime of singing "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction." Let’s
discover how to have money, perhaps even become wealthy, but attain
a sense of satisfaction and joy all the while.
Your Destiny: Financial Freedom
A life of financial freedom surely does not include many of the emotions that bubble to the surface when you scurry past the personal finance section of a bookstore, when your credit card bill arrives, or when you flip open a mail-order catalog to the digital video camera you can’t have. Yet there is no reason why you cannot have a happy, healthy, and fulfilling relationship with money. There is no reason why you cannot experience freedom from financial worries.
Life is not meant for us to be distraught over unpaid bills, wear duct-taped shoes, and put our children to bed hungry. We should relish the fruits of our labor. We should enjoy and be satisfied with our possessions and not perpetually crave more. We were not put on this planet to struggle in pain and anxiety over financial problems.
It’s OK if you’ve got money tension. Tension, you see—the yin and yang of life—is good. Without it, there’s little joy. The tension of piano or violin strings offers sweet harmony. Loosely relaxed strings offer only a dull thud. So you’re normal. It’s all a part of our managing, measuring, balancing, and being.
so hope you will learn to live with the tension in a healthy
way that brings true harmonic resonance to your life. No matter how
well or poorly you currently maintain your finances—or whether you maintain
them at all—you can experience the wonders of financial freedom.
To help you do this, let’s walk through some basic steps— identifying your money personality, doing a financial checkup, identifying good and bad debt, taming the shopping shrew, defining true wealth, understanding the power of good planning, and making peace with money. Along the way, I’ll share personal stories showing how others and I have learned valuable lessons through our difficult times with money. I will help you get off to a roaring start on the road to financial freedom.
Know that I speak as a fellow student. I believe we teach what we need to learn. I still suffer some angst about money. There is no way I have it entirely wrapped up and figured out, but I’m well along the path toward peace with money. I admit I would be severely challenged were I faced with a devastating financial loss and bankruptcy. It would be a huge test of my faith and what I teach. But I’ll not let the fact that I’m imperfect and susceptible to failure prohibit me from sharing the things I’ve learned and observed with you.
C. S. Lewis said it is at least worth lending an ear to "a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice." Dear sweet reader, I’m only a patient in the next room who would love to give you the heads-up on a couple of things I’ve picked up in my short stay here.
So get ready to give your financial health a good look. Be prepared to do a little maintenance and call in the professionals when necessary. Take a read on your cash "oil gauge," polish your portfolio, and brush and floss your budget to ensure the long-term health of your finances. Take baseline measures of your financial situation so you will be able to track your progress year after year, recognize trends in symptoms and disease, and learn why, when, and how to achieve your goals. Education—accurate information—is a first step on the way to excellent financial health, and you can get it.
Start with a checkup, and schedule them regularly. Then engage in preventative treatment: Scrub away the tartar, check for gum disease, get fluoride treatment, and purge the cavities before they rot those teeth. Then sit back and enjoy your pearly whites—for a lifetime of abundance and peace of mind.
from: A Girl and Her Money: How to Have a Great Relationship without
Falling in Love by Sharon Durling, copyright 2003. All rights
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