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Financial Regrets? How to Overcome

May 8, 2017

By J. André Weisbrod

Do you regret some major financial decisions?  Most people do.

In 2016 Bankrate.com published results of a survey that found only 17% of Americans said they had no financial regrets.  The biggest regrets were:

·         Not saving for retirement early enough

·         Not saving for emergency expenses

·         Taking on too much student loan debt

·         Taking on too much credit card debt

·         Not saving enough for children’s’ educations

·         Buying a bigger house than you could afford

I have heard many people express regrets over these actions as well as others, including spending too much on vacations, too much on cars, buying the wrong or too expensive insurance, and making bad investments.  None of us is perfect and I imagine most of us – even the 17% in denial above – would change some financial decisions if we could.

Living in the past doesn’t do much good.  But learning from it is very good.  The younger we get this the better.   But no matter our age or situation, we can take actions to improve our financial condition.  I submit seven major actions:

 

1.       Get control.

2.       Develop good habits.

3.       Consult wise and experienced advisers.

4.       Create a plan.

5.       Identify your risks and address them financially.

6.       Save and invest with discipline.

7.       Make it fun.

Get Control.

Half the battle is won with the first two actions.   You can do this.  Commit to it.   If you are married, it is essential you both commit to this together.  If you are not unified you will almost certainly fail.

First, examine your spending for the past year or more.  Categorize your expenditures.  Mark those that were essential or important.  Write next to them whether you could have accomplished those with less expense.  Mark those that were unnecessary or frivolous.  Put question marks beside those for which you are uncertain.  Highlight those areas in which you should be able to save money or areas you should just cut out.

Now create a new Budget.  To get started right, I suggest your first expense line items be Tithes & Giving, Income Taxes, Debt Payments and Saving & Investment. 

If you have credit card or other high interest debt, aggressively pay this off before Savings and Investment.  Once you are out of consumer debt, Saving & Investment will include sub categories such as savings for Emergency, Home Repair, Vacation, Education, Health Care, Gifts, Retirement and other specific purposes.  10-15% of gross income is a starting target for Savings and Investment.   The next line items are Housing (including utilities and taxes), Food & Household, Transportation, Clothing, Educational Expense and Insurance (Health, Disability, Home, Auto and Life).  These are the essential “survival” budget items for most people. 

Develop good habits.

The first habit is the commitment and time devoted to hard, creative work.   When I teach seminars, I like to use Biblical principles that have worked for thousands of years.  Proverbs 14:23 asserts, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

The second habit is learning to say “No.”  As I used to tell my children and now grandchildren, it is a complete sentence.  First say no, and then convince yourself otherwise.  If you can’t construct an overwhelming case, stick with “no.”  If you first say yes, you will be less likely to resist. 

Other habits include avoiding consumer debt like the plague (Proverbs 22:7) and recording and monitoring your expenses, comparing them each month to your budget.  This is critical when using credit cards.  Know how much you spend and on what.  If you cannot manage the card, then cut it up and go on a cash basis.  Or lock it in a safe until you need it for travelling or something important that is a priority.

The habit most closely associated with financial independence is that of making regular deposits into savings and investment accounts.

Consult Wise and Experienced Advisers.

 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)   Be careful in choosing advisers.  Look for experience and references.  Know how an adviser gets paid to get insight into biases.  Look for evidence of caring, integrity and objectivity.

Create a plan.

“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).  This is one of my favorite verses.  It reconciles our responsibility to plan and act with God’s desire to lead and provide.  Plans are meant to be changed, but you can’t change something that doesn’t exist.   A favorite common quote having multiple source attributions, including Ben Franklin, is “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Identify your risks and address them financially.

“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3)  This covers the whole of life, from driving a car to investing. Insurance and self-insurance involves identifying risks and creating ways to first avoid danger and second, ways to handle problems when they arise.  Sound planning and careful actions help avoid problems and catastrophes.  Emergency funds, investment assets and insurance are for the inevitable things that go wrong.

Save and invest with discipline.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11)  Discipline is critical.  Without it you are blown by the winds and even a plan won’t help.  Avoid get rich quick schemes.  If it looks too good to be true, guess what?  Even if you are retired, try to discipline yourself to spend less than your total income (from Soc. Security, Pensions and Investments) and allow the savings to be re-invested.  This will give you a better chance of keeping pace with inflation and avoid outliving your money.

Make it fun.

All of our discipline and sacrifice are rewarded when we are able to fulfill our wish lists.  Helping others.   Starting a ministry.  Taking trips.   Hosting a party.   Funding a hobby.   “Angel” Investing.    Fulfilling a “bucket list.” 

We are supposed to have joy in life.   No regrets.   Or at least finish the race with as few as possible.

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Copyright 2017, J. André Weisbrod.  All rights reserved.

If you need help managing your personal or business economic trends, we are here for you.  Call 412-367-9076 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation in person or by phone.  STAAR Financial Advisors, Inc. offers wealth creation, management and utilization opportunities for people, families, businesses and organizations at all stages of life.  We provide planning, business consulting and investment management, including private equity opportunities for accredited investors.

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Nothing contained on this site should be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security. Nor is it intended as investment, tax, financial or legal advice.

 

J. André Weisbrod is founder of STAAR Financial Advisors Inc. the STAAR Investment Trust, the Strategic Assets Group and the Strategic Assets Fund 1, LP.  His headquarters are in Pittsburgh, PA.  He has been named a 5-star Wealth Manager in Pittsburgh Magazine.  He is an author and speaker and has been interviewed, quoted or had articles published in a variety of media including Investors Business Daily, TheStreet.com, The Wall Street Journal, Business News Network, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA Today,  KDKA TV and Reuters TV.

Actively involved in church and community affairs, Mr. Weisbrod is committed to the well being of individuals, families and businesses.  He has served various churches, organizations and businesses as a speaker, teacher, adviser and board member.   He and his wife, Shonda Lynn, are active members of Triumph Church in Sewickley, PA and currently serve on the worship and praise teams.  Avocations include competitive masters swimming, scuba diving, painting and photography, acting and music.

 

If you are interested in setting up a personal no-cost, no-obligation consultation with Mr. Weisbrod or having him speak to your church or organization, he can be contacted by calling 412-367-9076.

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J. André Weisbrod is founder of STAAR Financial Advisors Inc. and the STAAR Investment Trust headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been named a 5-star Wealth Manager in Pittsburgh Magazine and is among the longest tenured fund managers with over 20 years managing the same funds. He is also co-founder of the Strategic Assets Fund 1, LP, a private equity fund for accredited investors. He is an author and speaker and has been interviewed, quoted or had articles published in a variety of media including Investors Business Daily, TheStreet.com, The Wall Street Journal, Business News Network, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA Today, KDKA TV and Reuters TV.

Actively involved in church and community affairs, Mr. Weisbrod is committed to the well being of individuals, families and businesses. Avocations include competitive masters swimming, scuba diving, painting and photography, acting and music.

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