Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sneaky Snares

Welcome to 

Middle-aged Money Man 

a blog devoted to considering and choosing the wise money moves 
one needs to make between the ages of 35 to 55.

Sneaky Snares:
Ways We Keep Ourselves from Change

We have all done it.  It is very common.  Our thoughts betray us at times. We have all told ourselves a prevarication in order to cover up procrastination.  Some of us have become so accustomed to this pattern of behavior that is has become very difficult to break out of any negative or harmful habit.

Within the range of behaviors and thoughts and feelings, we can develop counter effects to everything.  If I smoke, I can tell myself ‘just one more’ for a very long time. If I am filled with anxious thoughts, it is easy to fall into expecting the worst in every situation.  When feelings of depression become all too familiar, I can look back and retrace the beliefs and thoughts that led me there.

It is the same with money management, for better or for worse.  I can get lost in positive or negative financial management by becoming unaware of the behaviors that lead to success or failure.  A person who saves regularly into a separate account, either by payroll deduction or ACH, can develop thousands of dollars in cash before they know it. It was the CHOICE to enact the automatic savings plan that made all the difference. Likewise, a person who develops a habit of spending $6 per day on his/her favorite beverage will spend close to $120 per month without even realizing it.  So, everything with cash management and financial planning is about CHOICE.

All too often, it seems that the choice to give up something small, like a weekly dining out or a daily beverage, is such a painful, sacrificial decision.  When we are in a habit of doing a thing that we really enjoy and like, we choose to allow our thoughts and feelings to support the maintenance of that behavior.  This can be good or bad.  For instance, I go to the gym almost every day.  Sometimes I don’t want to go.  But even in those moments, when my body tells me to stay home on the couch, the power of personal habit helps me decide well.  The skill here is this: Developing the discernment to know which habits are good and worth keeping and which habits are unhealthy and worth improving.

So, let’s review some of the thoughts that keep us from positive change.  Though it is impossible to name all of the potential thoughts that keep us stuck in bad habits and away from a better life, let’s consider some of the more common items:

1. I’m Too Busy:  This is likely the most common idea that I hear that keeps folks from taking charge of their financial situation.  This thought can be considered in one of two respects.  First, it can be seen as a statement of a type of lack of control over life, that life is overwhelming and overtaxing.  The belief behind this thought is that life is mostly unmanageable.  Second, it can be seen as an excuse to avoid something less palatable or uncomfortable.  The belief behind this thought is that I do not want to do a new thing because I am unhappily comfortable in this existing thing.  Busy-ness is a symptom of the Tyranny of the Urgent, constantly engulfed in 'putting out fires' and unending activity and busy work.  It is the opposite of strategy, the antithesis of prudent decision-making.  Either way we consider this thought, the message is that the person prefers the status quo and is not ready to change.

2. Maybe. I’ll Get To It Eventually:  When we cannot fully and readily say Yes to a new behavior, it expressed that we are torn in some way. If meant sincerely, this thought may just be a statement that we will prioritize the new choice in a limited amount of time.  But usually, this statement is an expression that a person cannot give a positive response and is reluctant to just say No.  It can be a type of Chronic Niceness, well-known to us in the South.  No matter how good the new idea is, one cannot commit to it. The belief behind this thought could be that life seems too hectic and commitment is not possible. Or it could mean that one is just saying something to get the pressure of decision off his/her shoulders.  Either way we consider it, the message is that the person is not ready to change.

3. I Would Do It, But…..:  This is the classic reply showing a willingness to do the new behavior while offering a rock solid excuse to not do the new behavior.  It is a Catch 22.  There is often no way to win with this objection.  The thought expresses that the person has a surefire, bulletproof way out of the new commitment.  The belief behind this thought is that the new behavior is NOT a priority.  The message is that the person is not ready to change.

4. That’s A Great Idea:  This is perhaps the slickest response.  The thought expresses total agreement with the new idea, total acceptance of its worth and value, and a statement of enthusiastic support for the idea.  The person may even list the reasons it is a good idea, worth of every consideration, worthy of actually doing.  But just beneath the surface, there is a not so subtle resistance to the new behavior.  There is a personal rejection of the idea.  The statement goes that, in general, this would be very wise and profitable for a person to do, just not me.  The message is that the person is not ready to change.

5.  Off-Topic Distraction:  The person listens and hears you, but immediately brings up a related but off topic as a new conversation starter.  It is a nice but subtle off-putting of the responsibility to engage the first topic at hand.  We use distraction for a lot of reasons.  When we are uncomfortable or intimidated or afraid, we try to distract with laughter.  When we are guilty or ashamed, we distract by blaming others.  But when we hear a good idea and still distract, it seems that it is usually because we are settled into other habits and do not want to change. The message is that the person is not ready for change.

6. Naming an ‘Even Better’ Idea:  I love this one.  When discussing the idea of financial planning or fitness or nutrition or whatever, a wonderful is presented and solid rationale is given for the idea.  Then, out of nowhere, the other person delivers an even better idea. Unfortunately, the other better idea is usually not based in reality and is usually not better.  This is a type of distraction technique.  Consider this.  I offer a research-based, well-accepted idea to my friend. The idea is solid and makes rational sense.  Then my friend offers some off-the-beaten-path, highly dubious notion that she picked up from a cousin of an aunt from an in-law who owns a Q-tip refurbishing business.  The friend’s new idea is wacko, but they insist on taking the conversation there.  The message is that the person is not ready to discuss and is not ready to change.

7.  Lamenting that ‘No One Does This’:  You know, when you share a great idea with another person, and the idea is truly great, but it gets shot down by the other by an incredulous statement such as “yeah, but nobody does this.” Imagine, sharing with another that studies show those who work with a professional financial planner save 22% on taxes and create 34% more wealth over their pre-retirement years. 
And you are excited about the information. And the friend agrees that these statistics are amazing.  But then they respond, “yeah, that would be great, but nobody is gonna do that with some financial planner.”  Boom!  The idea is shot down.  The response had nothing to do with the fact about the idea.  It is still a good idea. But it has been dismissed as fantasy or folly.  The message is that the person is not ready for change.

Well, anyway.  You can see that all of us use a wide range of inner thoughts and outer expressions to avoid dealing with some important matters.  It seems to me that financial planning and money management are in that category.  Until we get a vision for what is possible with really taking control over our financial situation, most of us use a series of thoughts that say ‘not now,’ ‘I’ve got time for that later,’ or ‘it’s just not that important.’

But it is important. The less income and the smaller savings that we have, it is even more important.  If we are in debt, it is vitally important.  The fewer resources we have at any time, the more important it is to manage them as well as we can.  And when we do increase our income and assets, the need for financial planning is paramount to accelerating our wealth building.  It’s not about being rich, it’s about being richly blessed and having the resources to make our lives what we truly want it to be.

If you find that you are being trapped by a series of sneaky snares in your thinking about money, free yourself. Call a financial planning team today and begin a path to stewardship.  Sometimes, we bless ourselves with one or two simple decisions.

So, I hope that this blog article has been useful to you. My team’s goal in working with clients through the financial planning process is to build solid foundations, save wisely, invest profitably, and rest easy.  Until next time…… Be Blessed.

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Richard Barbee
9724 Kingston Pike #701
Knoxville, TN  37922

These are the opinions of Richard Barbee and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice. None of the above should be construed as individual legal, investment, or tax advice. Please consult with a legal, investment, or tax professional regarding your unique circumstances. Neither Richard Barbee nor Cambridge can offer legal advice.

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Slate, Disharoon, Parrish and Associates, LLC are not affiliated.

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