Monday, June 10, 2019
10 Things I Have Learned About Money Since Creating Budget Boss
This is my 400th blog post for my website www.budgetboss.ca. I figured it would be a good idea to share with everyone the things I have learned while coming on this journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs. I remember my first posts attracting only a handful of eyes. Those were tough days. Since then in the 2 plus years of Budget Boss, we have grown into a worldwide family of eager, intelligent, amazing go-getters looking to find the answers to our financial problems. Hundreds of people read my posts on a weekly basis and thousands visit the website every month. Thousands also tune in across social media for my daily content and for that I am truly grateful. Over the past 2 years, it is my hope that my followers learn a little from me, but one thing is for sure, I have learned a hell of a lot from them. I am a financial advisor. Daily I am sitting at kitchen tables, speaking to people of all ages about their personal finance issues. I have clients up to their eyeballs in debt and I also have clients with multiple 7 figure net worth’s. I have over 600 clients and I am out there daily trying to do my best for them. Today I want to share with you some of the things I have learned during my run as Budget Boss. Hopefully, it will give you some insight into what the world of personal finance is really like.
1) Most people have no clue
Here’s some good news, if you have no clue, you are not alone. Now there are some people who just stink at money. Many of my posts are directed at them. Frugality, saving, debt reduction are all very important. This is the part that truly troubles me. Even the people who don’t stink at money, have no clue. I know millionaires that have no clue. You might be asking, what am I talking about? If they are wealthy, shouldn’t they be good with money? The sad truth is, no matter what state you are at in your financial journey, advice matters. I am not an accountant, but I do know I need an accountant to perform my taxes. Why? Because my taxes are complex. The same goes with investments, insurance, mortgages, realty, lawyers and many more areas. Many people only find out what they are doing is bad when the doo doo hits the fan. I hear all people on all sides of the investing and insurance debate. Passive versus managed investing, Which one is better? You ask 10 people it will probably be a coin flip. What if I told you that the answer depends on the client? What if I told you that the answer is not uniform for all? What if I told you that many people base their financial futures on what they heard on TV, or the radio, or even worse, online. People have a strange obsession with trying to be right, even when ignorance is okay. My favorite clients are the ones that admit they have no clue and are eager to learn. We need to understand that not knowing is fine, not caring is not. Seek out knowledge, drop the ego, be open-minded, and it all shall be yours.
2) People die poor, very poor
Many of my clients are older. Last year alone I sat at 15 kitchen tables right after the passing of a loved one to help them with their life insurance claim. Almost every time I cringed at the size of the cheque I was bringing. 10K, 20K, maybe 40K. In many instances, the cheque was the only thing left behind from that loved one. You may be asking yourself, why does it matter how big the cheque is? The reason it matters to me is simple, it is often an indicator of how poor they were in their later years. Building wealth takes many, many years and many of our seniors for various reasons were not able to. I have seen some work right into their 80’s. I have seen some die leaving behind a trail of debt. I have seen family members left to figure out their parents’ estate and clean up messes left behind. I sometimes speak in an “ominous” tone because of the reality of what I have seen. The future is for those who prepare for it today. It is serious and we need to take it that way.
3) Life Insurance is beautiful
In case you don’t know me yet, I love life insurance. Weird eh? Why do I love life insurance? Let’s start off by describing why people hate life insurance. It combines two things that people hate talking about, death and insurance. No one likes to speak about death. I get to speak about it every day. Insurance gets a bad rap because of the numerous insurance products you by that absolutely suck and rip you off. Home insurance rarely pays out and when it does it’s a huge hassle. Auto insurance is like an angry girlfriend. You know you need to keep her happy, but sometimes you don’t even know what you are doing wrong. Apple care, extended warranties, credit protection plans are all just a scam to shave money from you every month. Life insurance gets grouped in with all that crap. Why I love life insurance is simple. I give a couple of bucks to a company and they take that couple of bucks and give my loved ones 10. That to me is a beautiful thing. I like leaving marks, I like being prudent, and I hate being a burden. Sure, this is just my opinion but here is a fact. People that have life insurance and their families are generally wealthier than people who don’t. I see that daily amongst my clients and constantly throughout my industry. I am passionate about it for a reason and if you ever want to go deeper into why, please let’s chat.
4) Life Insurance sucks
What? Okay, life insurance doesn’t suck. The Life Insurance Industry sucks. The problem with the life insurance industry is that it is far too old school. Getting coverage should be simple, easy and fast. The sleazy salesman is a thing of the past and should be done away with right away. This is what drives people away from getting the coverage that I have already explained, EVERYONE should have. Sure, companies try to lure you in with fun commercials of people running on a beach or planning a picnic, but behind the scenes, it’s old school business as usual. Part of my battle as a financial advisor is to get people to trust me, after many years of not trusting the industry in general. This is why education is so very, very important. If you know what’s what, you can then tell who’s full of shit or not. Believe me, there are a lot of people who are full of shit, I see them daily. Going back to point one, people having no clue. If it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, be wary. Also know that just like your job, there are good and bad people. Find the good, run from the bad.
5) Debt is deadly
This goes back to point number 2, and even point number 3 a little bit. It even deals with point number 1 and probably every point I’m about to mention. I have coined the phrase that “debt is the single greatest factor holding back the middle class in our country.” I see it every day. People with recurring monthly payments that are hampering their ability to live stress-free, take care of their families and plan for the future. We live in a debtor society and there are many reasons for that. Firstly, the banks have become wise to the fact that they were losing out on a huge portion of income by not making debt readily available. Now their success is not based on your success, because they own you whether or not you are wealthy. That is why they push credit cards, lines of credit, refinancing mortgages, creditor insurance, and overdraft protection every time you go in. Furthermore, our society has glamorized pretty things to the point where we forget what’s actually important. Couple that with an ever-rising cost of living, rising taxes, government waste, and shrinking wages and we are in for a debt disaster. It is a fertile breeding ground for massive debt, but I am here to tell you there is no excuse. I personally do not care about any of those things. The most successful people in this world are ones that truly believe debt is terrible and ruins your financial life. I meet families every day that have debt, and others that don’t. The ones that have it are always worried, always skeptical, and always on edge. The ones that don’t are open to new ideas, look forward to the future and appreciate smaller things in life. Debt hangs over you like a cloud and once that cloud is gone, the sun shines through. It will stop you from doing what you must do in life and that is handling your obligations, protecting your family, and saving for the future.
6) There is virtually no help out there at all
Well, there is, but it is not where you think it is. Think of all the places where financial education should be prevalent. How about school? That’s where we go to learn right? I learned about the anatomy of a frog, the works of Shakespeare, the angle of an obtuse triangle, but not once did I learn what compound interest was. Not once did I learn about a chequing and savings account or debt. We handle money every day of our lives and not once in my life have I handled a frog. Sorry, they are slimy and gross. Maybe the financial institutions will be there to help. Wrong again. Helping takes time and money. It takes time and money away from the real money-making operation, separating you from your money. Again, pushing debt onto their clients like candy. The real help out there has to be found. Some of you found it with me and I am forever thankful. I find it from the gurus. People like Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Anthony ONeal, MJ Harris, and my queen, Gail Vaz-Oxlade. There are hundreds if not thousands of places to find useful information, but it won’t be where you think it should be.
7) Greed is good
Okay, I am not Gordan Gekko from the movie Wall Street. Traditional greed is not good. It is what causes the segmenting of society into the haves and have-nots. Altruistic greed is a very good thing. What is altruistic greed? I describe my theory with my proclamation about being “Properly Selfish.” To be properly selfish means that you want your life to be as good as it can be, but you understand that for that to happen the barriers that exist to getting you to where you want to go need to be lifted for all. You want your family to be safe and secure. Why is your family special? Shouldn’t all families have that too? How about a good paying job? If you want that, doesn’t it stand to reason that everyone would benefit from that too? What about affordable necessities like health care, food, utilities, and housing? I truly believe that if we all strive to make our own lives better, society will be better as a whole. ‘Bad is not the enemy of great. The enemy of great is “just fine.”’ Jim Collins describes it to a tee. We settle for mediocrity and a life we do not want. We should be “greedy” for success. “Greedy” for a better life. “Greedy” to take care of our loved ones. “Greedy” means we should not settle for what is given to us, because no one will give you what you truly deserve, you literally must take it. By knowing what you want for yourself, you, in turn, know what should available be for all. Proper selfishness.
8) People have their priorities backward
When you ask people what’s important to them, the same standard answers come out. Family, friends, health, stability, being happy. If all the things I have already mentioned contribute to not being able to obtain those things, then why do we do it? Why do we not live within our means if debt causes so much pain? Why do we not get life insurance if we truly love our family and don’t want them to experience hardship? Why do we not eat right and exercise if we want good health? Why do we care what other people think when deep down we know that it doesn’t matter at all? We focus far too much on things like glamorous vacations, nice clothes, a nice car, and a big house when all the while, the standard answers gain nothing from those things. In fact, those things are what cause those standard answers to suffer. If I asked the average 25-year-old whether or not they would sacrifice an annual vacation for the ability to retire at age 55 and be able to take multiple vacations every year for the rest of your life, I can guarantee every single one of them would say yes. So, what happens? We lose track of what is really important to us, and again, I see it every day. Yes, family, friends, happiness, and stability are important to you. The question is, do our dollars match our deeds?
9) Wealth can happen for everyone, it really can
I have some very interesting clients. I have clients that have literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank and yet they live in a crummy apartment and only take an income of $1500 a month. These are people that never made huge incomes, sometimes in the 30-40K annual range. What they did was live within their means, save on a regular basis and plan for the future. It truly isn’t rocket science. Some of the most successful people I know have never owned a new car. They have never been on a cruise or traveled the world. They often don’t have college degrees or any specific remarkable talent. What they do have is a good work ethic, the ability to avoid financial pitfalls, and the determination to care about their futures. We are not trapped in our position and we are not a victim or our circumstances. You may have been wronged, but you are not a victim unless you allow it to be so. To me, a bigger income means more to save, grow and give. A smaller income only means less to waste. If you truly believe wealth cannot happen for you, the truth is it probably never will.
10) I love my clients and my followers
I really do. I get messages daily from people happy with what I do. They tell me about what they have done in their own lives to make it better. What they have done to dig out of a hole they put themselves in. What they have done to relieve the financial stress that was crushing them every day. I get to see the actual results daily with my clients as well. When I meet them, they are often lost, worried and apprehensive about their finances. After some time, they become astute, confident and open-minded about personal finance. Some of the greatest victories I have seen are so simple it would make you laugh. Things like finally communicating with your partner about money. Saving a little in a side account for emergencies. Buying a $15 dollar a month term life insurance policy because you want to begin “adulting.” These are the things that make me smile. I am happy for my wealthy clients as they become wealthier. I am happy for my struggling clients as they begin to not struggle. It truly is a beautiful thing. Sure, there are some people who do not like or agree with the things I say. I am not perfect and often make mistakes. I am often political, or aggressive and can even be stubborn. One thing I also am is empathetic. I know what it is like to struggle. I know what it is like to be in debt or go to bed hungry. Now that I am in the line of work I am in; I know what it is like to have some success and follow a passion. I want you all to have that, I truly do. My wealth will come only if I can provide my clients with an advisor, a coach, a mentor that they can trust, depend on and succeed with. That is why I do what I do. I want to win, but I can’t win unless everyone else does as well. Proper Selfishness.
Thank you for reading my 400th post. This was one of my favorite posts to write yet, and I hope you enjoyed it. I hope financial freedom finds you and finds you well!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
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