When It Comes to Your Money Be Accountable
(My best friend and I attended Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend in Atlanta in 2014. I still have not recovered from this life-altering experience. Listening to Oprah speak in person is basically a religious experience.)
Work gets in the way. The house is messy. The kids need to be at soccer practice. I don't have the time. I don't know what I'm doing. My husband/wife does it for me. It's overwhelming. It's too complicated. My parents/teachers never taught me this stuff. It'll never get any better, so why bother? I hired you to do it for me.
These are some of the most common excuses people use to ignore their finances. I hear them ALL. THE. TIME.
I don't often give tough love, but today I will.
When it comes to your money, you need to be accountable. Here's the truth, as sad as it is: No one is going to take care of you but you. Your company won't take care of you. The government will not take care of you. Your family will unlikely be able to take care of you. You are on your own when it comes to your finances.
I know retirement accounts are confusing. I know you've heard conflicting advice about money and investing your entire life. I know when you live paycheck-to-paycheck and life is stressful, sometimes it's less painful to push the finances to the back burner than to tackle them head on. You owe it to yourself, and your dependents, to put in the research and educate yourself to make the best possible decisions with your money.
I made all of these excuses myself. I've been there. I can tell you your life will not get better, in fact your money situation will likely worsen, if you do not become accountable to your financial education.
Fortunately, we live in a world where the answers are at our fingertips if we put in a little effort to find them. The good news is financial literacy is not rocket science. The fundamentals are within your reach. You do not need to know everything about money, but I promise, you can nail down the basics.
I want to challenge you all this year to learn more about your retirement accounts, the terms of your credit cards, managing debt, saving, and investing.
There are legitimate reasons people struggle to make ends meet. I'm not being dismissive of massive medical bills, systemic and institutionalized financial oppression, a lack of resources, and more. These circumstances and societal issues are not what I'm referring to.
What I'm saying is this: If you are reading this blog, working full-time, have a retirement plan, a credit card, a car, and a roof over your head, but you've dismissed your responsibility to learn how to properly manage your income and expenses, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
If you are using only wishful thinking to improve your financial life, you are being intellectually lazy. There. I said it. There is no excuse I will accept for you watching television instead of reading one personal finance book this year. As a financial planner, I can lead you to water, but I can't get you to drink. Yes, I just compared you to a horse. What I mean is that I can teach you only if you are willing. Yikes, I sound like that mean teacher you hated. I know that sounds harsh, but this country has a problem with prioritizing the wrong things. I say this as I prepare to live tweet The Bachelor this evening. I'm not perfect either.
This past weekend, I taught a three-hour-long financial literacy course to high school and college students in New York City. These students, between the ages of 15-21, showed up VOLUNTARILY on the COLDEST SATURDAY EVER to learn about personal finance. Their accountability, eagerness to learn, and determination for a better future was nothing short of inspiring. Every day these young people are choosing to prioritize their regular and financial education. There is no doubt in my mind, their mindset of learning will lead them to a lifetime of success.
Your future depends on your ability to manage money. Be accountable. Start your financial education today. If you need recommendations for books, online resources, podcasts, whatever, I'm your girl. I'm happy to help if you're willing to listen.
Man, this post sounds like I'm in a bad mood. I guess I'm a little grumpy from staying up too late watching Oprah deliver her Golden Globes speech. Y'all know I wouldn't miss an ICONIC moment like that!! If you haven't seen it, please watch.