Wednesday, May 23, 2012

32) The Bold, and the Beautiful

 never watched that soap opera, but the title suddenly made perfect sense to me after watching a commercial: everyone is in, either, a nightclub or a fashion show; they are young, thin, chic, and beautiful.  They are bold and beautiful.

            I live in New York, and am compelled to sample much availed (e.g. cultures & peoples, museums, music, parks, restaurants, theater, architecture, services, subways, escapes).

            I like to sample a nightclub periodically, at least for a business event, just to try to keep up with the times.

            I'm concluding that certain rich, powerful, beautiful, and wanna be's are the majority of the people who frequent certain establishments - where you might even run into them - namely, nightclubs, chic restaurants, and in-spots.

            Different people have different values, and those who share those values tend to associate.  This is a big reason why people move to/from a city or specific community.  This is why we state, “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.”

Similar values are particularly important for making relationships work long-term, whether they are societal, such as our nation, a cultural one, a religious one, a business, a job, a marriage, a family, or a friendship.

            I posit, at least for a marriage, and feel strongly, that shared values are more important than shared interests.  (A good dose of some mixed interests is much healthier, if not more fun.)  I don’t know if the masses consciously realize the spectrum of this.

            Do you know what's particularly important to you?  Going out on the town?  (If so, frequently or occasionally?)    What kind of transportation do you take?

            What kind of clothes do you wear?  Are you neat?  Do you make your bed?

            Do you care for your health?  What do you eat?  Do you cook your meals?  How frequently and correctly do you exercise?  What kind of personal care do you practice?  Do you sleep and rest?  Do you take vacations?  Do you pace yourself?  Are you balanced? 

How important is your career?  How at risk is it?

            How much are you in your head, your heart, your gut?

Do you like yourself?  Do you have/exhibit self-esteem?  Self-confidence?  Are you happy?  Angry?  Sad?  A loner?  A joiner?

Do you like to lead?  Are you good at following?  Do you compromise?

            How important are/what personal relationships do you maintain?  Are they healthy?

            Just as your values are truly unique, wouldn't you want your financial management to reflect such, and your financial plan and portfolio to be custom-tailored to support your values, your goals, and your individuality?

            Do it now!

Friday, May 11, 2012

31) Overwhelmed & Underwhelmed

hat do you do when you have to do so much, you don't even know where to start?

What do you do when a 40-hour DAY isn't enough?  What do you do when everything takes 2.8 times longer than you think it will?  (In the 1970s, someone developed a statistic saying so.  And, I think the stat is subject to Schwartz's Corollary to Murphy's Law.  Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  Schwartz’s Corollary states that Murphy was an optimist.)

            This is when anxiety starts, depression develops, and you end up just giving up.

            This is a bad path.  Life moves forward, not backward.  This is when you get to a fork a in the road, one way leading to a cliff (suicide?), the other, to a cave entrance with no light at the end of the tunnel.  You must make a choice or sit by the edge of the road.  Making no choice is still a choice.  You must put one foot in front of the other and walk.  Do you know how to eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

            According to W. Clement Stone, developing a positive mental attitude will help.  Having faith may help.  Faith in yourself, in the universe, or something else.

  None of this is easy, and it must be built incrementally and consistently.  This is where meditation, prayer, and other spiritual tools become important.  That, in addition to friends, sunlight, a shower, getting out of bed, getting out of the house.  Less sugar & caffeine, more exercise to pump endorphins.  Socializing, watching comedy, singing & listening to music.  Reading the right books, watching healthier TV programs.  Many little, healthy things for your spirit,  rather than one big cure.  Pace, balance, be, do.  Space abhors a vacuum, so your head and heart will be filled with something.  This is where you must find a way to clean out the stale parts of your being and fill the space with new, healthy, nourishing thoughts.  GIGO: Garbage In; Garbage Out.  Put good food in.

            What do you do when everyone who's supposed to supply a product or service to you, does so poorly or not at all?  Do you scream?  Cry?  Yell?  Write letters?  Threaten?  Commit crimes?

            The world is stressed.  Are the Four Horseman saddled up and riding to December 21?

            Is the enemy you know, better than one you don't?  Do you forgive?  Do you take your business elsewhere?

            I don't have the answers.  We all walk our own path.  It gets lonelier for many every day.  The developed world population moves more and more to being single rather than married or coupled.  We don’t seem to have enough money, security, safety, happiness, fulfillment, love.

            On the one hand, we're overwhelmed by technology, work, chores, family, responsibilities, time, life.  On the other, we're underwhelmed with the hand we've been dealt.  The rich get richer, the poor get poorer - and no one's happy.

            The money doesn't make the difference.  That’s not how to measure wealth.  It's going be what goes on in your head, not your circumstances.  There are life coaches, therapists, psychopharmacologists, and all sorts of other professionals to try to help.  Nevertheless, the quest continues.

            Maybe it isn't about the destination, but the long, strange trip.  And when you're traveling, it helps to know whom you are, where you've come from, and some idea of where you think you're going.

            In financial planning terms, this is financial analysis of what you own and owe (i.e. Balance Sheet/Net Worth Statement), what your cash flow is (i.e. what money comes in & out - and when), what your values are, and what your goals are.  Your goals cannot conflict you’re your values or your values win (e.g. wanting to make more money, but then having less time w/family, wanting to climb a corporate ladder but refusing to step on toes).  From there you can make a plan for food, clothing & shelter.  And when that's tended, you can look at the rest of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

            Life's a struggle.  A struggle to be born, a struggle to survive, a struggle to grow, a struggle to live.  Giving up is easy.

            Napolean Hill said our strongest drive is to procreate.  It could all end right there, like the male bee.  But he also said, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. Having a developed brain might you not want to use it?  On the other hand, just having a brane doesn't  obligate you to use it.

            Body-mind, and spirit; it’s an equilateral triangle.  Treat all of the sides - and don’t try to jam the square pegs in the round holes.

              What are your dreams?  What are your values?  What's your plan?

Friday, May 4, 2012

30) Life Ain’t Cheap

ife isn't cheap, it's fleeting.  Life isn't cheap, it's valuable.  Life isn't cheap, it's expensive.

            Life is valuable.

            I am experiencing a death every 10 days since Christmas.  The sheer numbers are giving me anxiety - forget about the pain related to the individual deaths and funerals.

            I'm losing family, young classmates, other friends and/or their parents & family.

            I have enough stress with putting tax season to bed, business, staff, technology, travel, injuries, and other personal issues and obligations.  But life has a way of getting in the way of plans.

            Life is changing fast.  The world is changing fast.  Is the world really ending December 21, 2012?

            A new concept in financial planning has taken root over the last few years: Human Capital.

            As opposed to investment capital (your money available to invest, or that is already invested), Human Capital deals with the amount of money you earn over a lifetime.  That amount may be bigger dollar-wise (and/or more valuable if you measure wealth by health, happiness, and quality of life), than what you save, invest and grow.  Therefore, it may be a higher priority in your financial planning.

            People like to protect their investments (e.g. bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate).  But they often make this a priority over protecting their lives, their health, and livelihoods (e.g. health, nutrition, exercise, sleep insurance, disability prevention &  insurance, life insurance, death prevention and planning, estate planning, mental health & attitude).

            How many people do you know that take better care of their cars than their bodies?  How many spend more time primping than pumping (iron, or their hearts & lungs)?  How many spend more money on cigarettes than healthy nutrition? What percentage of the people you know who watch TV & drink alcohol, also meditate & invest in mental health?  How many stretch their hamstrings in addition to a buck?

            How many people that you know, have:

Ø  Adequate health insurance?
Ø  Annual physicals?
Ø  Annual dental check-ups?
Ø  Adequate/appropriate disability insurance?
Ø  Adequate/appropriate long-term care insurance?
Ø  Appropriate titling of assets?
Ø  Up-to-date primary and contingent beneficiaries on assets?
Ø  Up-to-date health care proxies (primary & secondary)?
Ø  An appropriate Living Will with appropriate primary & contigent executors/executrixes?
Ø  An up-to-date & appropriate Durable Power-of-Attorney
Ø  Funeral wishes expressed & paid?
Ø  Appropriate primary & contingent guardians for their children & pets
Ø  A little black book of what's where, and who to contact in case of an emergency, disability, trouble, death, or travel?
Ø  A total financial plan?

            Failing to plan is planning to fail.  It takes away options and control.  And it usually adds insult to injury when stress and adrenaline are already at their peak.

            When a foreseen event is taking place, it's time for action, not research & planning.  Thoughtful planning & preparation take place in advance.

            And we all know that someday we will die.  What if it's today?  What if it's this afternoon?  What if it's tonight?  Who will pick the kids up?  Walk the dog?  Feed the cat?

            What if it's a disease that prevents you from getting insurance?  What if you need care, and now Medicaid won't pay?  What if it's a terminal disease, giving you only weeks or months to live - less time than the IRS allows for deductible gifting?

            What if it's sudden & unexpected?  At your desk, In the bathroom, crossing the street, in a car, the subway, the elevator, the gym, the dinner table, or in bed?

            Who's going to get your money, property & prized possessions when you die?  Uncle Sam?  State governments?  Lawyers?  Creditors?  Old Age Homes?  Hospitals?  Funeral Homes?

            There are no second chances, no do-overs, no summer school, or remedial classes.  It's water under the bridge, spilled milk - poof you're gone!

            It's how we live our lives that defines us.

            Life is valuable.  Death is inevitable.  You plan dinner, you plan marriages, you plan births, you plan education, you plan trips; have you planned for your final departure?

            How valuable is your life?  What's its cost?  How much is it worth?  Who depends on you?  What does disability cost?  What does retirement cost?  What does old age cost?  What does death cost?  What's the cost of not answering these questions?

            It's inevitable, why wait?