It’s 2019—How’s Your Money?
If you like your friends, they say you shouldn’t talk about politics or religion. Let’s face it, most people are happy not to. Unless you’re on the same team and then it’s ok. You can talk up a storm.
Money is another matter. That topic is taboo even when you’re just speaking to yourself. It’s the proverbial can that you keep kicking down the road, until there’s no road left.
Do you know anyone like that? I’m sure you do. You may be one of them!
If you are, then please stop. Now.
In the money game, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is also not a strategy. Ignorance or failure to face facts can land you in a world of hurt.
I’ve been collecting business and personal debts for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve seen more than a billion dollars in distressed debt pass through my hands or through law firms that I ran. These debts arise in every industry—in the private as well as public sector.
In the tens of thousands of cases that I’ve either reviewed, litigated or settled, there’s one phenomenon that’s even more damaging than some of the behaviors that created the bad debts in the first place. It’s this: Failure to face facts.
It’s willful blindness in the face of impending legal consequences. Whether it’s deciding not to open that ominous-looking letter from the court, choosing not to show up for an appearance, or even just returning a phone call, people choose every day to look away from their money problems, rather than towards a solution.
That is often the case, even if there’s no distressed debt situation. You may be relatively comfortable financially. But …
How’s Your Money?
How long could you get by if you lost your job, business or had some other major financial issue arise?
Have you planned for an unusually long life?
Is Social (In)Security your main option at retirement?
What is retirement? What does that mean to you?
Is your money lazy (dormant) or is it a dutiful employee (working hard for you)?
A new year is a great time to take a step back and self-assess. You owe it to your future and to your family.
Ignoring the giant won’t make him go away.
Back in high school, I was whining and complaining to a buddy of mine about some issues in my life. He patiently listened to everything I said, and then with wisdom I had never seen him display, said, “You gotta face your dragons, man.”
That was it. Face my dragons.
I didn’t like how it felt, at first. I was looking for a little commiseration—a little “dang, you've got it bad,” and a pat on the shoulder. But that didn’t come.
What I received was what I needed: The truth.
The truth is you’ll probably live longer than you think. By the way, so will your parents. According to ABC News, the number of Americans 65 years or older has increased ten times in the last century.
The truth is you’ll probably need much more than you’ve planned to live out your years comfortably, if, in fact, you’ve planned at all.
You don’t have to turn away from these issues like so many of the folks I’ve encountered in my slog through a billion dollars of debt.
You can also face your dragons. And tame them.
Where do you start?
1. Decide that you’ll never be ignorant about money again. Get fed up. Get mad. Get interested.
2. Do a little research. There’s a lot of money advice out there—good and bad. But part of the journey is figuring it out. Set aside some time to read up on personal finance. Cut back on some of your wasted time and start (or restart) your financial education.
3. Take an inventory. You can’t know what to do if you’re not sure where you are. Face the facts, even if they’re brutal. This is the beginning of coming to peace with this very large slice of your life.
4. Take action. Do something. Maybe it’s setting aside a small amount in savings, or cutting back on some foolish expenditures. Start a side hustle. Create a small win for yourself. You must create momentum at the start.
5. Stay in touch. I’ll be publishing the best money insights I’ve learned from working through mountains of debt. Join my mailing list to stay up to date.
I can’t give you any legal advice through this channel, but if you send me questions or comments I’ll be sure to respond. Deal?
One last thing.