The management of money is a real problem for most people. While the vast majority of the world’s population subsists in abject poverty, the small minority in relative affluence also struggles to make ends meet.
- Personal bankruptcies in the U.S. have been climbing steeply since the 1950s.
- Credit card spending and the divorce rate are both at all-time highs.
- People are working more hours than ever before, losing out on family and sleep time.
- The life savings of the average fifty-year-old American is $2,300.
- The average male executive views life as “empty and meaningless.”
Coaches spend a lot of time with our clients around these and other money-related issues. We work on both sides of the supply and demand equation. One tip for managing demand is to think about and manage your money in 5 large blocks or categories. We call these blocks the “5Ss of Money Management.” Get these things under control and you’ll be well on your way to a better relationship with money.
- Salute (30%). Pay your taxes when they’re due. Do this first. For most people it’s done for them, through withholding, but it’s up to you to make sure your employer is not withholding too much or too little. Learn to appreciate rather than to resent paying your taxes. It’s a patriotic act that assists a lot of people. Learn to reduce your taxes as much as possible. The only legitimate reason to not pay your taxes is civil disobedience • to protest and change government policy. But, as with all acts of civil disobedience, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Taxes can easily represent 30% of your gross income.
- Share (10%). Set aside 10% of your gross income to share with others. No one gets into the Promised Land alone. Nor is it just a family affair. And the old bootstrap philosophy is just a ruse for selfishness and meanness. No one does it all by themselves. We all build on a wealth of material and immaterial assets. Simple gratitude suggests that we share those assets with others. Don’t wait until you see what you have left over • it will always be a paltry sum. Make sharing with others a source of joy and a part of your personal foundation.
- Save (10%). Set aside another 10% of your gross income for your future. Taking care of your self is just as important as taking care of others. Save your money in two pots: before and after retirement. Don’t neglect either one. Save at least 7.5% of your gross income for after retirement. Invest your savings in money markets and mutual funds until you have enough for more professional money management. Make saving for the future another source of joy in your life.
- Shelter (30%). This is the driver of them all. You say that you don’t have enough to salute, share, and save? The problem may not be with your income, but with your housing costs (rent or mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, maintenance, improvements, furnishings, etc.). Your total housing costs should be no more than 40%, and ideally 30%, of your gross income. It takes planning and initiative to find such housing, but that is the linchpin to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence. Don’t worry about having the best or keeping up with others. Don’t use the kids as an excuse. Settle for good enough or an alternative housing arrangement until you have the resources for more. It doesn’t come over night. But with planning and initiative, it does eventually come.
- Spend (20%). With this roadmap, you’ll have 10% to 20% of your gross income to spend every month. Between health, car, and groceries there may not be much left over for other things. Don’t go out and charge the difference. You’re mortgaging your future. If it feels like a sacrifice to spend 10% to 20% of your gross income, then you may need to increase your income. But you may also need to appreciate and value your life in new ways. Our consumer society takes pleasure in consumption. Shopping has become a leisure activity. Coaches assist people to take pleasure in other things, including their work, relationships, bodies, hobbies, passions, and the natural world. It’s not what we spend, but how we live, that gives life meaning, success, and purpose.
Pay attention to the “5Ss” of money management and you’ll come to a new appreciation of life. The further away you are from the target percentages, the more you may benefit from a coach who can assist you to move you in the right direction. No one’s beyond hope • so hang in there and plan accordingly.
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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