Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Beyond Bag Ladies: Financial Road Kill Dangers

Last week, I wrote about my bag lady fears, a gender-specific syndrome that hits many women. But the financial road kill designation is a gender-neutral term that I have recently picked up from reading The Weekend Millionaire Mindset by Mike Summey and Roger Dawson.


"If your destined to be financial road kill on the financial highway you probably fall into one of two categories," according to the authors of The Weekend Millionaire Mindset .


Road Kill Alerts:


1) You move too quickly and fall for ill-advised money schemes, jackpot fantasies or other delusions. You, like many of us, have financial (Attention Deficit Disorder) ADD.


2) You move too slowly and spend your life working for steady wages, but with no real payoff or security. Basically, you're stuck in a risk-adverse rut. (I call it RAR!!!). This form of road kill, according to the Weekend Millionaire Mindset is too conservative to really achieve financial independence. Basically, with golden handcuffs we get chained to a desk. It's like share-cropping in that we never really get ahead.

I find that scarier than the Bag Lady Syndrome because financial road kill seems sneakier. A bag lady looks or acts like a bag lady. Even the bag ladies in pretty clothes (my personal nightmare) look a little off. The signs of disorder are there and in your face.

But financial road kill seems more dangerous to me because I could be actually dressed for success (with the right clothes, toys and home) but could be secretly stalled on the economic highway.

It's also a scary turf because many of us have been there. Indeed, when it comes to financial decisions, many of us --me too! -- have either moved too quickly or too slowly. Bottom line: I've had moments, episodes, years when I could have been a poster child for financial road kill.

Here's my anti-road kill strategy:

1) Be honest. It's bad to lie to other people. It's horrible to lie to yourself. I try to be 100 percent honest about what I'm really saving, spending and earning. That means even if I'm lying to myself, I understand that I'm lying. It's a constant dialogue that goes like this: No, Sharon. You don't need another skirt or to eat out tonight. And quite frankly, I'm still trying to spend less, while earning and saving more.


2) Understand that mistakes happen. I used to play the violin. And when I messed up in one measure, I'd be so upset that I would miss later notes. Quickly, my entire performance would deteriorate. Now if I over-shop or under-save, I try to accept and learn from my mistakes. There's no profit in beating myself up. That's a road kill move. It's better to just get up and keep moving. But look both ways next time.


3) Read a lot. It's really profitable to learn from other people's mistakes. I read magazines, blogs, newspapers, newsletters and books on money management and personal development.


4) Create a balanced plan. It's like Dancing with the Stars. If the ballroom dance routine is too easy, too risk-free, the performers lose points (Road Kill Alert). But if dancers try to do too much, too soon or if steps are too risky for their level of expertise, the dancers fall, trip or stumble: (Road Kill Alert!!) I try to be mindful of that balance between risk and reward when I plan my work assignments, spending and earning.


5) Constantly invest in myself: I've attended writing seminars, industry conferences, financial planning sessions and now graduate school. I invest in technology and professional tools. As a moving and higher-educated target, maybe I'm less likely --I hope to be--road kill.


Here are a few articles that are helpful


From Personal Finance Advice: How I Take Frequent Vacations on a Limited Budget


From My Investing Blog: How can I make more money?


From Need To Be Debt Free: Our Zero-Based Budget for December 2007

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3 comments:

peter bielagus said...

Great post about the financial bag ladies. Don't forget the importance of insurance. There's no quicker way to get knocked off the financial fast track than by being hit with an unexpected financial disaster.

I work as a financial advisor for young professionals and always recommend having a plan as young as possible. Before young adults even start thinking about savings and investments, I suggest they ask themselves: What if something were to happen to me, or my place of residence, that could threaten my financial security?

Whether you're envisioning a fire, burglary, or major health issue, the best way to safeguard your current financial position against such surprise events is to buy insurance. Of course everyone knows the obvious must-haves like health or car insurance, but a much more overlooked must have insurance is renters insurance. Most people just starting out do not own homes, but that does not mean that their belongings are any less valuable. And contrary to popular belief, landlords are not responsible for any of your valuables ruined in a fire, or stolen during a break-in. Renters insurance also covers your valuables when you are traveling. Should your car get broken into, or your luggage and/or expensive equipment lost during vacation, you can recoup any losses with a renters insurance policy. Since policies are extremely easy to come by and cost about the price of a pizza per month, there’s little excuse not to get one. You can search online for a policy but a pretty cool website is Liberty Mutual’s www.youcovered.com, because you can get a free quote without putting in any personal information.

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg said...

Peter:

Thanks for your comment. You are so right about renters insurance.

I have seen prices for as low as $15-30 a month.

Great info! Thanks for stopping by.
Best wishes,
shr

peterbspeaks said...

no problem sharon. I always like the financial advice that EVERYONE should do. Makes my job as an advisor easier ;-)