As you can probably tell, the material in this chapter is deeply personal to us. It’s something we’ve paid a significant price to come to understand. Our experience has been the crucible out of which have been forged new levels of knowledge, discipline, and unity in our relationship. It has also opened up a whole new world of insight for us into how profoundly money issues impact every dimension of life balance.
Like time, money is a huge communicator of value. What we buy with our money reflects what’s important to us—at least, at the time. How we buy it reflects our character, discipline, and the value we place on our relationships with those who are (or should be) involved in our spending decisions. Both what and how we spend dramatically impact the quality of our lives, the quality of our relationships, and the legacy we leave to our children—not only in terms of dollars and cents, but also in terms of character, financial intelligence, and the ability to interact in positive ways around money matters.
Money is inseparably connected to each of the life matters we’ve already discussed—work, family, and time. Just consider: How much time do we spend trying to earn money, spend money, keep track of money, manage money, take care of things we buy with money, deal with problems in relationships caused by money? How much does our dependence on the money we earn on the job determine what time we can spend with our families, restrict our freedom to consider other work, and even affect the quality of our contribution at work when—for economic reasons—we’re afraid to “rock the boat”? How much of the controversial “two working parent” issue is basically a matter of economics?
The good news in all of this is that because money is so interrelated with other life matters, improving our ability to manage it will make a significant difference in every other aspect of our lives. Learning to manage our money wisely—to spend less than we earn, put some away for a rainy day, and invest instead of consume—is a huge optimizer in all areas of life balance. It can strengthen our character, strengthen our relationships, increase our effectiveness as employees, and improve the quality of our personal and family life.
And now, more than ever before, there’s a critical need to do it. Despite recent decades of unparalleled prosperity and two-income families, research has shown steadily increasing credit card debt, household debt, mortgage and credit card delinquencies, and personal bankruptcy filings. It identifies money problems as an ongoing major cause of divorce. It also shows a significant correlation between financial stress, employee absenteeism, and performance on the job, and reveals that half of all employees have not even started saving for retirement, and that most of those who have are not saving enough. The truth is that many people—even those with six- figure incomes—are still struggling to pay their debts.
With job insecurities, stock market fluctuations, dwindling 401(k)s, and events such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or unexpected health challenges that could throw any of us into serious economic straits at any time, wise money management has become a fundamental survival skill. And the reality is that these past decades of unprecedented prosperity and easy credit have not prepared us to deal with the growing economic uncertainties we’re facing today.
In light of all this, in this chapter we’ll ask you to explore:
How you see money
How the Quadrant II investment paradigm can help you dramatically improve your money management
High leverage optimizers that empower you to make better financial decisions
How you can build true wealth
This and quality information on many related economic issues is available at www.economy.com. Specific information regarding credit card usage is available at cardweb.com.
“Making Marriage Last,” published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, www.aaml.org/Marriage_Last/MarriageLastText.htm.
Virginia Tech’s National Institute for Personal Finance Employee Education, presentation to the AICCA Mid-Winter Meeting, San Diego, CA, January 14, 2000.