We’re All Financial Optimists, and It’s Hurting Our Bottom Line

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Do you see the glass half full or half empty?

No matter your answer, I have a secret for you.  We’re all financial optimists, and it’s hurting our bottom line.

Don’t believe me?

I didn’t expect you to.

You might say, my finances are a mess.  I have debt; I’ve pulled money out of my 401(k).  I’m definitely not a financial optimist.

But, I’d argue that you are.  When you look into the future, you don’t see bankruptcy and years of the same financial mess.  You likely think that eventually things will get better, and you make decisions based on that.

If your financial situation isn’t that bad, you’re probably even more of a financial optimist.  Say you’re getting ready to buy a house, and you know that your limit is a house that costs $250,000.

You find the perfect house.  The problem?  It costs $270,000.  Still, you decide to buy it, even though you know you can’t afford it.

What do you tell yourself?

  • It’s in a good neighborhood, and the house will appreciate.
  • In just a few years, inflation will make your now nearly unmanageable payment much smaller, and paying it won’t be such a hardship.
  • You’re just starting your career, and in a few years you’ll be making a lot more money, so the house payment will be easier to afford.

Sound familiar?

Just a few years ago, millions of people thought their houses would appreciate, and then they were caught up in the housing crisis.

Houses don’t always appreciate, but we optimistically think ours will.

Sure inflation will make your house payment more manageable, but you’ll have other expenses in a few years that you’re not thinking of because you’re thinking optimistically.  In a few years, maybe you’ll have a few kids to fill that house, and they’ll cost a lot of money.  You’ll be spending more on food, health care, transportation and day care, just to name a few things.  Suddenly, having a manageable house payment doesn’t really make a financial difference because you’ll have so many other expenses competing for your money.

If you’re lucky, your career will soar, and you’ll make more money, but that doesn’t always happen.  You might get laid off and have to find a job that pays less.  You or your spouse may decide to quit so one person can stay home with the kids.  Or, maybe you do get raises, but at the same time your health care premiums go up every year so your pay essentially stays stagnant.

Of course, thinking optimistically is beneficial to our mental health, but for our financial health, recognize that thinking optimistically hurts your bottom line.  When you get ready to make a large purchase like a house or a car, don’t forecast into the future.  Determine if you can afford the item now, in your current situation.  If you can, you’ll tie up less of your future money and benefit from this.  If you can’t, it’s best to pass it up.

Investing in Your Personal Finances

In business, we talk all the time about investing in your business.  We’re not talking about actually buying stock in your own company, although there are those that do that as well.  What we’re really talking about is investing the things that will make your business better.  For a cab company, that might mean investing in an extra cab or two.  Or replacing some of the older cabs in the fleet with newer ones.  It might be something as simple as sending an employee (or yourself) to training.  But, as much as we talk about investing in our businesses, how many of us actually invest in our own personal finances?

How to Invest in your Personal Finances

Invest in your personal FinancesInvesting in your personal finances can be something as complex as buying new investments.  But, it can also be something as simple as providing yourself with the training you need to improve your personal finances.  What part of personal finance scares you?  Is it the budgeting?  Is it the balancing?  Selling?  Buying?  Investing?  Maybe you just don’t understand how savings accounts work?  Investing doesn’t mean you need to spend money either.  All those things I just listed can be learned online for free.  It might take a bit longer because it isn’t all consolidated like it would be in a course.  You might need time sorting through sites like this one learning what the authors have to teach.  But, it can be learned.  And, when you’re done, and you understand something a bit better, you’ll have invested in your personal finance.

Earning Dividends on your Personal Finances

In the investing world, dividend paying stocks are the ones that many investors (for sure income investors) will look at first.  Why?  Because, even if the stock doesn’t gain any value, it’s still going to pay that dividend out in most cases.  The people who run the company have invested in the business to improve it enough that it can pay some of it’s revenues back to the shareholders.  You can do the same.  As you invest in your personal finances, and implement the things that you’ve learned, your finances will get better.  You’ll be working on them all the time to improve them.  As they get better, you’ll start earning dividends on your investment.  Maybe it will be in a higher rate of income. Maybe a higher rate of savings.  Or, maybe it will just be a higher rate of understanding that leads to a calmer sense of where your finances are headed.

The quicker you start investing in your personal finances, the quicker you’ll start earning those dividends.  Click on a few of those links in that list up there.  Learn about something that you don’t feel in control of.  Invest in your personal finances today.

Happy 4th Everyone!

I know some of you are probably not Americans, but for those of you who are, Happy 4th of July!  I hope it’s nice and sunny for your celebrations and the fireworks are great tonight!

Independence day is also a great day to think about your financial independence.  Take a look around you and think about the things you could be doing for yourself, and for others, if you didn’t have the debt that you have.  Think of the burden that would be lifted and the stress that would be relieved if all your bills were paid off and on time.  On this Independence Day, I encourage you to give some thought to your financial independence and how you can make it a reality.