The Blatt Watch by Peter Blatt: Financial Planning: Why Financial Binge Dieting Does Not Work

Financial Planning – How small changes add up: A three step process to financial freedom.

Over the holidays, we took a vacation to the Florida Keys. Part of our trip involved going down to Key West. At the end of Duval Street is the Southernmost Point of the Continental US; also known as 90 miles to Cuba.

The trip reminded me of a time that Gina and I went down to Key West over 7 years ago. I remember staying at a beautiful bed and breakfast without the kids. The whole point of the trip was to unwind and leave the stress of work behind us. It started fine, with Gina and me enjoying the relaxing bed and breakfast and then heading out to walk to downtown Key West. I had my blackberry and I was busy reading my emails as we walked down the street. I looked up and turned to my left were Gina was walking next to me and she had stopped about 200 feet behind me. I walked back to her and said, “What is going on”? She said that I have a choice, to have a vacation with her or with my blackberry. I promptly turned off my blackberry for the next few days of vacation.

That one small step changed my life. I chose to live in the here and now, the moment. Every day we have choices. Do we eat the healthy salad or the fried chicken? Do we exercise or do we watch television? In keeping your financial house strong, it starts with one simple step. Step 1: What can I start on right nos to ensure that I have a financially comfortable retirement? Is it saving an extra $4 by not going to Starbucks; is it reviewing my investments to determine if they are properly allocated; is it calling my financial advisor for a review; is it starting a new IRA or retirement plan; is it asking for help, or; is it just staying the course. If you make this first step every day, it will become a habit. Then when you choose to fully retire, you can do so with confidence.

The hardest part of life is Step 2: DO the action required to do step 1. We are filled with doubts, concerns about the past, and worries about the ‘what if’ futures. The best way to overcome these fears and doubts is by taking action. When you are ‘doing something’ and living in the moment, you are not worried about the past or the future, you are only in the present. For me, the reminder to get back into the present was a challenge by my wife, Gina, saying who do you chose—your job or me. I hope you have someone in your life to remind you what is important.

Step 3: Write your own mantra.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is easy to get distracted by the next shiny thing, or become fearful of not living up to perceived expectations. You might believe there are better ways, or the internet might tell you to do something else. Most of the time once a decision is made, you should carry on with its implementation. Your neighbor might have bought a new Lexus, but your Honda will do just fine. There is always someone who you can find who is doing better financially. My advice is not to be envious, but to be happy for that person – if they can make it, then so can you! You need a mantra to keep you going as your new found process takes it time to become an ingrained habit. Write a quick sentence that motivates you to continue on your way of improvement, then read it first thing in the morning, right before works starts, right after lunch, and before you go to sleep. This is your personal mantra to stay motivated. If you would like to share yours with my readers please respond and I will post it onto my website.

Follow these three steps for financial planning and you will have financial freedom. If you would like a friend to receive the Blatt Watch, please forward me their email address.

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Peter Blatt

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