The story is told of a mental institution that administers a preliminary exit exam within a controlled, structured setting. The test area resembles a kitchen with a counter top, faucet, hardwood floor and other amenities. When the institution observes a feasible amount of progress with one of its patients, they test several subjects in this environment. Before the orderlies bring the patient into the room, they first turn on the faucet in the kitchen, allowing the water to overflow onto the counter top, from the counter top onto the floor and lastly, they allow the water to accumulate on the floor. Just as the water begins to puddle, the orderlies bring the mental patient to the room and hand them a mop. If the patient has enough sense to FIRST turn off the faucet before mopping the floor, the doctors move aggressively towards the patients planned release. Yet, if the patient begins mopping the floor before turning off the faucet, the doctors concur that a few more sessions may be in order...
This may seem comical or even absurd, but many of us are applying this type of ridiculous methodology to our financial pictures. We know the source of our financial flooding and instead of turning off the faucet to aid in financial restructuring, we continue to put a band-aid on our monetary cancer. We must start at the source! There are five key steps towards your personal recovery:
Step one: The source of many of our financial woes is not the RECESSION! Let's face it, many of us were hemorrhaging in our finances before the recession started and have now transferred our lack of structure to the fault of the recession. If you were over-spending, over-extended, over-burdened financially in 1999, then 2009's financial troubles may be magnified by the recession, but not caused by it. You must realize that you are the root cause of this problem.
Step two: Start with the basics...This is a great opportunity to re-evaluate for many and get acquainted with for others the core financial concepts. Learn to use your checking account as it was designed to be used...to check what goes in it and to check what is coming out of it BEFORE it comes out. Learn to balance this with your life. Purchase only those things that you need, not that which you want. Develop a budget and stay within the parameters of your budget.
Step three: Plan for the future, not just for your present...At the onset of 2011, one lesson to be learned in the midst of turning off your financial faucet is key...LEARN TO SAVE! If its only ten dollars, five dollars or one dollar a month...SAVE AT ALL COST. Putting some money to the side for emergencies, rainy days or for special events will help you curtail loses on every end.
Step four: READ!!! This concept is still fundamental and necessary. Gaining as much knowledge and understanding regarding financial concepts, matters and viewpoints is a must when re-developing your financial picture. The more you know and understand, the better your money will perform for you now, henceforth and forevermore. When you don't know, you are forced to lean on others for directions for your dollars...IF IT BELONGS TO YOU, LEARN THE BEST MEANS OF GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY ON ALL FRONTS.
Step five: SHARE...Your understand is vital to the growth of others. Its truly not yours until you give it away. The best way to stop a financial storm is to help as many as you can when you find a place of shelter. Financial literacy is major in the goal of getting our personal and national economic situations in line. Once you've been strengthened, strengthen someone else.
If you follow these five basic steps, you will soon see a bright light at the end of your financial tunnel. Make 2011 a much better financial year than 2010! The opportunities are endless...
Author, CEO, Mentor, Motivational Strategist