Today is the 100th day of 2013. Back on January 1st, many of you made new year’s resolutions where you promised yourself you would make changes in your life. I suspect most of you have already broken those promises. You wanted to accomplish something but you didn’t, and now you feel like a failure. We all make promises which we sometimes can’t keep for one reason or another.
I recently watched an episode of the ESPN show, 30 for 30, titled Broke. The documentary chronicled the epidemic, whereby, professional athletes find themselves broke after they stop competing. As a personal finance teacher and advocate for financial literacy training, I was excited to see a program that validated what I teach. I teach my students the difference between income and wealth by using examples of those professional athletes, musicians, and actors who find themselves broke despite their high incomes. I mention this episode not because it closely fits what I teach but rather for a comment made by former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards. He said in that episode, “A goal without a plan is just a dream”.
Your new year’s resolutions are often just that. They are dreams. They never stood a chance of being successful. Why? Because you didn’t develop a plan for implementing that resolution. The same is often true of our finances. We make deals with ourselves, our spouse, our parents or those close to us that we will do something to improve our financial circumstances. We have great intentions that will stay just that; a dream of where we want to get to. We have dreams, but we don’t turn them into goals because we don’t develop a plan that is feasible.
I realized this back in 2004 when I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I was a normal American citizen. I had mastered the living for the now. The problem was I had a desire to change that and learn to live for the future. I knew I needed to be investing. I knew I needed to get out of debt. I had dreams but no plan. I developed plans but they never worked. I realized my plans were doomed because they could never be implemented until I had laid the groundwork to make them successful. I had to have a plan for developing and implementing a plan as well as backup plans. I had to make a commitment to seeing those plans through. I could no longer pay lip service to improving my finances. I needed guidance.
I began looking for help and found it soon after. While listening to a radio station I had never listened to before, I heard a caller telling the host how he was going to blow up his credit cards using an M80 firecracker. He counted down, 3, 2, 1 then BOOM. The host was Dave Ramsey and the theme of this show was a 4th of July way to destroy your credit cards. I had never heard of him or his show. I believe God had me listen to a different station that day for a reason. He knew I needed and wanted guidance on improving my finances. He provided that for me that day.
I picked up a copy of the “Total Money Makeover” book by Dave and began reading. By the end of the weekend, I had the confidence, desire, and knowledge needed to put together a plan to successfully get out of debt, pay for my kids’ college and begin building wealth. We put that plan in place and by 2008, my wife and I along with our kids had the privilege of calling in one Friday to scream on Dave’s program that we were debt free except for the house.
Do you need to develop a plan? Do you need guidance on creating that plan? Keep checking back here as I begin to put video lessons up that will teach you how to do many of the things I learned during the process. In the meantime, start by attending a Financial Peace University class offered near you. During that class, you will learn what it takes to develop a plan, how to stay motivated to see your plan succeed, and how to improve your finances. Then you can put a plan in place to see your dreams become true goals.