How to Elevate your Financial Consciousness
by Rachna Bijlani, CFP®
March 29, 2019
I believe there are two kinds of people in this world; one who live in a state of consciousness and the other who live in a state of oblivion. Being conscious is being aware of your surroundings, of the impact of your decisions on your life and in general, it means knowing what you’re doing. We’re often so busy and stressed in our day to day life and routine that we seldom have the time to stop and think for a moment, to evaluate our actions and the impact of those actions on the rest of our lives. This line from the song Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots aptly describes our state of mind in today’s day and time:
“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.”
Instead of trying to turn back time, let’s focus on making our present and our future stress free. I am sharing four important questions that we ought to ask ourselves and ponder over in order to raise our financial consciousness, which in effect, will help alleviate financial stress in our lives.
1. What am I really earning for?
Simply put, this means prioritizing your financial goals. I am sure that if we were asked this question, most of us would promptly respond that we are earning so that we can support ourselves and our families for the rest of our lives. And yet, this is not the whole truth. In reality, we spend a major portion of our earnings to impress people who we don’t even care about. We live beyond our means to keep up appearances instead of prioritizing saving for retirement or for our children’s education. The vast amount of debt that we accumulate and the shortfall in our retirement savings are testaments to this statement. We need to carefully budget our income, determine an appropriate savings rate to help accomplish our financial goals and make an investment plan to align with our financial goals and priorities. Quit trying to keep up with the Joneses and get real about your own situation cause the Joneses aren’t paying your bills when you can’t work any longer!
2. How important is financial compatibility in my relationship?
They say, love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener and we will all agree that money is a major cause of marital discord. When we are in a serious relationship with someone, we discuss our likes and dislikes; our hopes and dreams; our views on politics, religion, sports and music and our opinion on having and raising children, amongst other things. And yet, we fail to see the role that money has to play in the entire dynamics. Discuss your values and attitude towards spending, saving, debt, charitable contributions, retirement, financially supporting your parents, paying for your children’s education, financial planning and investing with your partner to ensure that you are on the same financial wavelength. Discussing the above with your partner and trying to find some common ground will make your life so much easier. Evaluating and understanding the importance of financial compatibility in a relationship could help you live in marital harmony ever after!
3. What should I do with my savings?
Many of us park a huge chunk of our savings in our checking or savings account because we either don’t know what else to do with it or we think that our money is at least safe in the bank. The truth of the matter is that the interest earned in a checking or savings account will most likely be insufficient to help beat inflation, let alone help you achieve your financial goals. Inflation causes a decline in the real value of money thus leading to loss of purchasing power. In all possibility, your savings are now worth less than what they were originally. A well balanced investment portfolio designed in lines with your financial goals, risk tolerance, time horizons and liquidity needs will probably be a smarter decision than letting inflation erode the value of your money. It might be wise to seek out a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to assist you with planning and investing. You have worked hard for your money, now let your money work for you!
4. Am I prepared for a financial disaster?
Tragedy often strikes unannounced and leaves us with depleted resources and strained emotions. What happens if you were to meet with an accident and were no longer capable of earning, or if you died prematurely while your family was still dependent on your income, or if your company was downsizing and you got laid off, or if your roof started leaking and had to be fixed immediately, or if you were sick and required long term care? These are just a handful of examples, there could be a lot more unpleasant events in our lives that might possibly deplete our financial resources. There are things that we can do to plan for such disasters such as establishing an emergency fund or transfering risk through insurance. Carefully analyze your financial risks and have a solid plan in place to mitigate those risks so you can protect your assets and prepare yourself for any unforeseen financial disasters. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst!
Money is a sensitive issue for most of us and a major cause of anxiety in our lives. Whether we accept it or not, money plays a crucial role in our existence and pursuit of happiness and without being financially conscious, it is very difficult to achieve overall serenity. Through this article, I hope to have given you some food for thought, which in turn might help elevate your financial consciousness.