It’s been a while, but I do remember scrounging for change—flipping over couch cushions, checking the slot at the vending machines, walking a parking lot for anything that’d been dropped or forgotten.
A paper route and other gigs soon changed my focus, and I discovered the power of steady income. Whether we’re talking about one-off opportunities or streams, there are plenty of ways to check for change in the couch cushions.
Maybe you’ve heard someone advise you, “Don’t leave money on the table.” It often comes up in negotiations or sales situations, but there are scrounge-worthy lessons for many areas of our financial lives. Some ideas we love?
Knowing what you need—and not just what you want or could use. This self-knowledge provides great perspective. When we keep the basics in mind, we know where the bar is. Anything above the bar is extra, bonus, a cherry on top. The practical implication is that awareness makes us more patient. If a purchase or expenditure is not an immediate need, we know we can afford the time to wait for a sale, a deal, a change of season, or any other more opportune moment. This is saving your scrounging for the right time.
Asking for what you’re after. You know we believe in the practice of transparency: there’s not much to be gained by withholding our goals or expectations. It gives the other parties involved—a boss considering your next raise, a mentor, a new financial advisor?—a chance to do their best for you. And if people still aren’t in alignment, wouldn’t you rather know sooner than later? This is a method of scrounging for time to work toward your goals.
Remembering you don’t know what you don’t know. This could be a productive conversation starter for anyone in your circle you trust. It’s something you could ask your tax professional, your employer’s human resources department, or even our office: “In your experience, what’s something I may not know that I don’t know?” There could be opportunities people wouldn’t know to think of! This is scrounging for possibilities.
Maximizing those matches. Yes, you know this is a favorite of ours: take full advantage of any employer match on retirement contributions. It’s more bang for your literal buck. It’s free dessert for eating a balanced meal.
We should note that we believe in leveraging opportunities: we do not believe in abusing any system to the detriment of the community. (Many of us learned our lesson in childhood: our siblings’ rooms are not fair game for scrounging the way the couch cushions are!)
There are, however, plenty of aboveboard strategies for scrounging. Opportunities abound. Which are worth it?
Clients, when you’d like to explore this topic—or anything else—write or call.
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Millions of us are living through new experiences. The global pandemic has affected many aspects of daily life. Sportscasters and others have used the expression “It’s a whole new ball game” to describe suddenly changed circumstances.
It seems apt now. The rate of change—and the stakes—in this pandemic can feel overwhelming and disorienting. And yet we wonder…
We humans start out knowing nothing about anything, right? Babyhood was a whole new ball game, along with getting teeth, walking, going to kindergarten, making friends (and enemies), and all the other developments in our lives.
So how is it that we have each managed to adapt and deal with this lifetime of ever-changing circumstances, coped with each and every “whole new ball game”? What lessons are there as we each deal with our current set of changes?
Some of the answers might be found in our own pasts, the things that have taught us perspective. Maybe the answers are in our goals and priorities: they could guide the way through. No matter what we each face now, the overall challenge of change remains.
We might revise the old saying and conclude, “It’s always a whole new ball game.”
Clients, if you’d like to discuss this or anything else, write or call.
I recently heard the simple lesson about rocks and pebbles and sand again. You probably know it.
If you take an empty jar and fill it with rocks, you can still add pebbles and shake it until it is full again. Then you can fill it again with sand. The pebbles fit in around the rocks, and the sand fills in around the pebbles. Everything fits.
But if you empty it the jar and try to refill it first with the sand, then the pebbles, and finally the rocks, it comes out differently. The rocks will not all fit.
The moral of the story: focus on the big things, and do not let the little things get in your way. We each are happier and more effective when we have thought about our priorities and acted on them first. When we have time to take care of less important matters when they fit in. When we aren’t focused on little things that just bog us down.
We have rocks – priorities – in our personal lives, in our relationships with others, in our work or business. Our best lives may be when we can put all of our rocks from all parts of our lives into the jar, thinking about priorities and taking action. And keeping the sand out of the works, no matter the source.
Narrowing the focus to you, what are the rocks in your financial plans and planning, the big priorities? Let’s work on them first, and get to the fine points later.
In our work for you, the rocks are doing our research and taking care of portfolios, handling the service you need so your money connects to your life, and communicating with you every way we can.
Rocks – pebbles – sand. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.
On the advice of a speaker at a conference, I am in the process of re-reading Stephen Covey’s classic book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This 1980’s staple of business literature is surprisingly timeless.
One of Covey’s theories is that time management is really self-management. He suggested that all tasks might be categorized according to urgent or not urgent, and important or not important. Those things that are both urgent and important must always be handled: production, emergencies, project deadlines.
But many important things are not urgent:
Increasing productive capacity.
Looking at new opportunities.
On any given day, these non-urgent things might be ignored without huge cost. But in the long run, the time we spend on them might be a key indicator of success, health, and happiness. A balance between production (urgent and important) and taking care of productive capacity (important but not urgent) may be a hallmark of sustainable enterprise.
This seems to apply to our personal lives as well as business. (If we are doing it right, we lead integrated lives – being the same person off the job and on the job, anyway.) Many things that give us a chance for a longer, healthier life are important but not urgent.
Working on your plans and planning, whether for retirement or estate planning or whatever, falls into that ‘important but not urgent’ category as well. Easy to put off, not a big cost to ignore for a short time, but with a huge impact on long term outcomes.
Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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