Too Busy to be Wealthy

Opportunity, for most of us, doesn't knock just once; she raps a continual tattoo on our doors. The pity is that much of the time we're either too preoccupied to hear or too lethargic to answer.   Benjamin Franklin

I am fortunate to have someone keep watch over me, to help me stay focused stay on course keep priorities in order.  No, not my wife.  As wonderful as she is, she is also in the trenches with me daily and susceptible to the same myopic vision.  I am blessed to have a mentor.  I also pay for that blessing, which helps!

My mentor sent me Franklin's quote, and he added this comment:

We will spend hours discussing Opportunity Cost and the impact of what a loss can end up costing us over time.  There is
the other side of that same coin, which is Opportunity Gain.  It is easy for people to become so busy making money that they do not spend any time learning how money works.  Remember, as a professional you bring opportunity where, for many people, there was once little or none at all.

When I follow-up with families who have requested an appointment with me, the most common response I get is, "Yes, we need to do that, but right now we're sooo busy!"  My job then is to keep knocking, reminding them of their high-priority matter of unsurpassed importance long-term financial success.

The deceptive words are "long-term."  People tend to put it off because it seems to be "put-offable." We do not consider that our greatest financial asset is time.  Modest savings, cared for properly over a long period of time, can and will grow to become large sums.  Shorten the time frame, and the necessary increase in savings rates usually comes as a shock.

Example: 21 year old saves $5000 per year, every year through age 66.  Her total savings has grown (at 5.5% rate of return) to more than one million dollars.  Her too-busy-to-be-wealthy sister waits to start until age 30 and, all other factors remaining the same, accumulates less that $562,000.  What is only a $50,000 difference on the front end, because of time, ends of being nearly a half-million dollar loss.

My point is, most single, 21-year-olds could probably find a way to save between 15-20% of their take-home pay.  Once the habit is established it is easier to sustain.  Even if the 30-year-old (mom, mortgage-owner) summons the discipline to begin a 10%savings plan she will never catch up to her more foresighted sister.

Today, opportunity is knocking.  Take a few minutes and answer the door.

Smart Money

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Opening Day

Play ball!  Opening Day is more than just a day on the calendar, or the first game on the schedule.  Opening Day marks a tidal change in your year; in your outlook on life; in the pace and rhythm of your life.  Baseball!  Throw away your clock.  Grab your home team's cap, scorecard and a pencil oh, and don't forget your mitt.  You never know when a ball will come within your reach.

Every year my father took me to Opening Day.  Skipped school. 1 o'clock.  American flag bunting covering every wall.  Sunshine.  Stadium packed.  The smell of cigars, hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn.  And, where we lived, the President of the United States threw out the first ball.  My dad always found us a seat in general admission on the third base side so we had a good view of the presidential box seat along the first base line, next to the dugout.

Ted Williams is reputed to have declared that the skill of hitting a major league baseball is the most difficult to master among all sports.  Even the greatest fail more than 6 out of 10 tries.  Who would argue with Ted Williams?

Let me ask you, if I were able to arrange for you to be on the starting line-up of your favorite team on opening day which would you rather have Albert Pujols' bat or Albert Pujols' swing?  If you could hit like the superstar would any good bat that fit your hands do?

Something significant changed for me awhile back.  When I first became a financial services professional I was a "me too" representative.  Every one else in the business sold bats; so me too.  My time was spent selling potential customers on the virtues of one bat over the others.  Problem was, when we were done the customer was no more skillful than when we had started at using any of the bats (nearly all of which were very good).  I knew it wasn't the ideal way, but it was what everyone else was doing; so me too.

Then I met swing coach Don Blanton.  My swing improved.  I began to understand how to properly use a bat, how to judge the ball, and how to hit it into the gap.  Now, under Don's tutelage, I am a swing coach.  No longer do I see myself as a bat sales guy.  Of course, when it's your turn in the line-up you need a good bat.  But my primary purpose and objective is to help people improve their swing and raise their batting average.

After the last game of the last season more players are judged on their batting average than on how many home runs they hit.  The home run hitters, generally, are also the strikeout leaders.  We admire them, but we know trying to hit every pitch out of the park is a high-risk strategy.

Which do you want to stand at the plate with your current swing and try to hit a home run?  Or would you rather improve your swing, and raise your batting average?

Reading: Key to Academic Success

For Christmas I bought myself a present a reading improvement course.  That was many evergreen trees ago, and I still look on it as some of the best-spent dollars of my life.  My reading speed went above two thousand words per minute with comprehension well above 80%.

Prior to that Christmas I was reading under 500 words per minute, and my comprehension was poor.  Honestly, how I maintained dean's-list grades throughout my undergraduate and master programs I do not know.  When I saw the required reading list for my doctoral program, however, I knew I had to do something, and quick!

Many environmental and scholastic conditions change between high school and college.  Few, if any, are more significant than the reading required.  Poor reading skills drag a student down like combat boots on a swimmer.  The work load becomes exhausting and unsustainable.

Are you trying to think of something meaningful to give your child as a graduation gift?  Are you pondering how, in some practical way, you can advance your child's success at college?  My recommendation is a reading improvement course.

Posted in College Planning. Tagged as Study Skills.