Male Speaker: Who are you?
Male Speaker: I am your inner Financial Ninja.
Male Speaker: My what?
Male Speaker: I’m you with a Financial Plan and I had been. Cool huh? See, there’s not much difference between you and I. Only, I am happier, healthier and I have better relationships.
Male Speaker: And why is that?
Male Speaker: I took charge of my personal finances.
Male Speaker: So, you’re here to teach me how to do that?
Male Speaker: That’s right! Call me “Sensei”.
Male Speaker: Aha! No!
Male Speaker: Fine! Come with me.
Male Speaker: What are you doing?
Male Speaker: To think clearly about money, it helps to turn off your emotions. No more losing sleep over things we can’t control. Instead, we focus on things we can control.
Male Speaker: Such as?
Male Speaker: Planning, spending and debt. First, Planning. “A journey begins not with where you are going but where you are.” The first step is to create a snapshot. Do this: Make a list of everything you own that has value (cash, property, investments). Now, make a list of everything you owe (mortgage, credit cards, loans, et cetera). Total each list, then subtract one from the other. That’s how much money you have. That is your net worth.
Male Speaker: So, what if it comes out negative?
Male Speaker: It might happen. The important thing is not to get discouraged. Your journey is to change that number into a positive. Make one more chart. This time, list your income and your expenses. All of them.
Male Speaker: Even the little ones, like the cup of coffee I bought this morning?
Male Speaker: Especially little expenses. They add up more than you think. Total your income, total your expenses.
Male Speaker: I got it!
Male Speaker: Then subtract one from the other. That is your net income.
Male Speaker: What if that number comes up negative too?
Male Speaker: Aha! That’s what the next step is for, Spending. If your total income is less than your total expenses, you probably need to trim your spending. In any case, the goal is the same. To make your income greater than your expenses and here’s the best part, once your income exceeds expenses, the extra goes into your savings.
Male Speaker: But, how do I trim my spending? Do I have to go back and cut out all of the fun stuff?
Male Speaker: Not at all. Postpone some until you have the funds to pay for them. A little delayed gratification now can have a big impact later.
Male Speaker: And when I’m done trimming, what’s left is…
Male Speaker: Your budget. And if you stick to it, you’ll do better than 2 out of 3 American households that never even prepare one; while reducing your stress level, improving your credits score, and preparing for the future.
One more lesson. A very important one. 18%, 23%, 28.5% interest! Credit cards are the worst kind of debt. They must be eliminated first.
Say you have an $8,000 balance at 18%. If you make minimum payments, how long will it take to pay it off?
Male Speaker: Three years?
Male Speaker: 20!
Male Speaker: That’s like another mortgage.
Male Speaker: Lesson #1, always pay at least the minimum amount, and better yet, pay the entire balance each month so you’re only paying interest on new purchases.
Lesson #2, pay the card with the highest interest rate first.
Lesson #3, if possible, consolidate your credit into the card with the lowest interest rate.
Male Speaker: But? What if that’s not enough?
Male Speaker: If creditors are calling, pick up the phone and negotiate. Creditors want to be paid. So, they’ll often work with you to come up with a plan. The most important thing is to attack credit card debt, head on!
Male Speaker: College, emergency funds, retirement. That’s a lot to think about.
Male Speaker: If you feel overwhelmed, talk with people you trust and get their perspectives. Then ask yourself, where do you want your finances to be at the end of this year, in five years, in ten years? Make a plan that is realistic and achievable. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce stress and frustration about money.
Remember, I am the Financial Ninja inside you and it only takes a little bit determination for you to be like me.
Male Speaker: Now, I see!