End of Year

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Greetings fellow readers and bloggers. I hope your year thus far,  has been a prosperous journey. If you’ve experienced valleys and mountains along the way, then you’re growing and hopefully learning valuable lessons. I’m certain there’s some that you will definitely want to share with friends, family and acquaintances, as I share with you.

The end of year is fast approaching so I’m dedicating this post to “seeing the big picture” of our personal finances and the importance of knowing this information helps in managing/reaching other goals without sacrificing the things we enjoy (vacations, funerals, medical emergencies, unexpected bills, etc.).

A few months ago, a friend walked up to me after a meeting we both attended on personal finance, we hadn’t seen each other in years and decided to have lunch to catch up on things. We exchanged numbers, hugged and went our separate ways with a promise to chat later. Jane Doe seemed happy and successful, I watched her walk away escorted by her driver to her limo and thought with a smile ‘it must be nice’.

It had been a month since our meeting. I honestly didn’t think I would get a call from her so I was pleasantly surprised to hear her voice on the other end of my phone. Jane sounded distraught and told me her husband passed and she could really use some help with her books. It took me a moment to grasp exactly what she meant about her books, I was sure she had an accountant to handle those things for her I mean she had a driver and a limo! When I asked her did she need some editing done she began laughing and said “no”.  Then Jane told me that she never had to do anything with their bank account, nor handle paying any bills and before she handed any of that responsibility over to their accountant, she wanted to learn how to handle this herself so she could catch a crook. My mouth dropped open as I fell silent for a moment. I learned in that 45 minute call that her parents had arranged their marriage, that he was 20 years her senior, very controlling and was an accountant. She was embarrassed to let the other women in her circle know that she never had control over her money, she quit college to raise their children and never had the need to worry about these things; but wanted to have a bookkeeping system in place so she could start keeping track.

I remembered writing about a similar situation in my book, and here I was dealing with it again, but on a more personal level. “Sure, I’ll be happy to help, but I need you to be brutally honest with yourself about your income, expenses and spending habits. You can’t leave out a single detail or this won’t benefit either of us”. She agreed and we began the process. Starting with a months worth of receipts, which we broke down by day and then week. We looked at their investments and savings then finally their annual income. It wasn’t a pretty sight after looking at her monthly expenses and debt. But once we had the big picture of the data, we could place priority on items that were out of control, like her credit card spending.

 She was thankful for my help. Her husband was a good provider and took care of all the bills, I mean everything! Once she had a clear picture of her finances, she felt confident speaking with the insurance company and any other merchant to negotiate rates because she knew her worth.

Jane said her husband left them with a substantial inheritance; however, the majority would be used to pay off the student loans and debt from his first wife. She would have to work in order to carry her lifestyle. So, we worked on a budget for a working mother even though her children were all grown. I knew this was her way of making up for the things she had sacrificed to live the lifestyle she was accustomed to.

I’m thankful for the lessons in this experience of my friend which allowed me to remember why I started all of this in the first place. To empower myself and others to never take the time we have on this planet for granted. To know your value, not just financially, but as a person and that everything you do MATTERS!

When you plan for your future, don’t forget to enjoy the moments and smell the roses along the way. It’s never too late to learn something new nor to reinvent yourself.

Until next time, stay safe, be grateful, and live like it’s your birthday every day in moderation, of course.

Peace, love, and prosperity,

ET