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Standing in the queue at the Orchard Cafe I found myself staring longingly at the beautiful chocolate cake on the counter. Lost in reverie I turned to the lady standing next to me and said, “This is definitely a good day for chocolate cake.”

“Oh yes,” she replied, “I haven't had any chocolate for a whole month...”

I looked shocked.

“I was doing a sponsored 'no chocolate month' for the British Heart Foundation. I've raised seventy pounds”

I looked at this lovely lady in amazement.

It happened to be the anniversary of my father's death. He died of a massive heart attack.

As my emotion welled up at the extraordinary synchronicity of the moment,  I reached into my pocket and handed her a note.

“You've just raised a bit more,” I said with a smile.

It felt good to be able to make that small gesture, to have some money in my pocket to offer.

The joy of being able to give to a cause that is meaningful to us is priceless.

Regards,

Nicholas.

NicholasLee

As part of my Lenten journey this year I spent five days living in a Benedictine Monastery at Worth Abbey.  I have always been drawn to the simplicity of a monastic way of life and this was an opportunity to experience it. The rhythm of the day is determined by ‘offices’ or services beginning with Vigil at 6.20am, progressing through the day with Lauds (Morning Prayer) Midday Prayers, Vespers (Evening Prayer)  and finally Compline (Night Prayer) at 9.00pm.

Breakfast, lunch and supper are eaten in silence.

It occurred to me that the rhythm of the monastic day is a perfect metaphor for our lives. At the dawn of our lives, we emerge reluctantly from the darkness of the womb into the world. And so it is for the monks as they rise before dawn and make their way to church to begin chanting psalms and reciting prayers. As we grow and engage with the world, we find our way and lose our way and find it again. Each of us needs an anchor, a rhythm we can rely on as we are buffeted by the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'.

The patience and commitment of the monks (several have been there for fifty years), their faith and sense of purpose are an example to us of how to build a life. By surrendering to a rhythm they move through their days with discipline, doing what's necessary and remaining steadfast in their purpose.

The monks pay little heed to the distractions of the outside world with its noise and chatter. Yet they remain intimately connected to their community and the care of individuals within it. With patience and charity they build schools, teach children and offer guidance and protection to all who need it. This is surely a metaphor for each of us with a family as we teach and guide our children.

Is not money our means of achieving this? Isn't financial discipline actually about understanding the underlying rhythm of our lives, the importance of providing and saving and caring for others? By committing ourselves to a plan we create a measure of certainty in a changing world and give ourselves the best chance of fulfilling our lives' purpose.

Regards, 

Nicholas.

You know all those daft things we do with money, all those seemingly innocent peccadillos that if left unchecked spell big trouble sometime down the line. All that money we spend satisfying our little wants (often describing them to ourselves as 'needs'): clothes, phones, coffees, pampering (I deserve it!), not to mention our spectacular lack of interest in saving, planning and budgeting. Well it's okay folks because it's not our fault. We were born that way!


Dr Stephen Siegel of the University of Washington writes in the Journal of Political Economy: “Each individual is borne with a genetic predisposition to a specific savings behaviour, an effect that is found not to disappear later in life.”
 

The evidence is compelling. Dr Siegel examined data from Sweden on 30,000 identical and fraternal twins. Using information from their tax returns he worked out how much they saved. Twins with identical DNA were found to share twice as much of their tendency to save (or not) as fraternal twins born from separate eggs.


How can this fascinating information help us? Well for those of us born with a spending genetic pre-disposition this is not a license to spend without compunction. That always ends in tears... believe me, I've seen it too many times. It means that we have to adopt some sensible strategies. One simple strategy is to automate our savings with standing orders and to spread it between short and longer term investments. To ensure we have an adequate emergency fund so that we're not taken by surprise when something inevitably goes wrong. Some of us may need to be a little more drastic and cut up our credit cards.
 

For most of us we need an 'outside' influence to help combat our natural tendency to spend. Someone who will hold our feet to the fire when it's needed, someone to whom we can be accountable for our behaviour. This can be a spouse or a friend as well as financial planner. We all need people around us whom we trust and who understand our weaknesses without being judgmental.
 

And for the savers, and you know who you are, keep up the good work and help your less fortunate friends. You were born to do this work.


Regards, 

Nicholas.




Unable to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:

I just wanted to say thank you very much for watching my Baby Boomers series. I hope very much that you found it to be helpful in organising your thoughts about the sort of things you should be doing (or we should be doing!) now that we are in our sixties and seventies.

If you recall, we covered the five main areas of this age: the financial consequences of death, the financial consequences of dementia, debt, the importance of having a discussion between yourselves so that you know what’s going on with your finances, and we talked about downsizing, which I think is a very important part of everybody’s financial planning if you happen to own a house.

By definition all I can do is talk about this stuff in a very sort of simple way on a video.  If you have some more detailed questions or if you would like to have a conversation with me, then please do get in touch

To watch any of the videos again, you can click the titles below: 

Episode 1: Death
Episode 2: Dementia
Episode 3: Discussion
Episode 4: Downsizing
Episode 5: Debt

Thanks for watching,

Regards,

Nicholas.
 
Walking down a cobbled street with expensive looking shops on either side I can see a young man sitting on the pavement. There are a few coins in the bowl in front of him. I lean down and drop two coins into the bowl. He looks up. His face is pale, his eyes are dull and there is no expression in his voice as he says, “Thank you.”
 
I walk away. A middle class man living in a 'prosperous' university city. My two coins have... what? Salved my conscience, helped him momentarily? Both perhaps...and they have made me feel okay for a moment because I was able to put those coins in his bowl without worrying. I could afford it. Today.
 
Tomorrow.. who knows?
 
I sit talking to my friend Peter Roper (www.thefamilybusinessman.co.uk). We are drinking expensive cups of coffee in a four star hotel. He tells me he is going home via the supermarket to fill up the boot with food and provisions. He can afford it. It was not always so – there was a time when there was no food in the fridge and no money to buy anything. He was broke, literally. His memory of that time is painful, so much so that he takes nothing for granted today. I too can easily remember a time when I struggled every month to make ends meet, relying on credit card debt to see us through.
 
We both know how near we came to being that young man on the street. How easily that can happen to any of us. Each of us daily negotiates our relationship with money. It grants us survival, status and, if we are lucky, peace of mind. For most of us though we continue the struggle closer than we think to sitting beside that young man on the street.
 
Some Facts
 
  • On average the UK has a 'deadline to the breadline' of 18 days before the money runs out to pay bills in the event of a financial disaster.
 
  • Most 25 -44 year olds have only enough money put by to survive 7 days in the event of a financial disaster.
 
  • 35 per cent of households have no strategy in place for dealing with financial hardship because they have no savings at all.
 
Source: Legal and General's Deadline to the Breadline Report.
 
We are blessed. We are lucky. Or maybe we've just worked hard and pushed ourselves to ensure that we have good jobs and incomes. Whatever our route to this place, isn't now the moment to take the steps to manage our money well, build financial protection around ourselves and those we hold most dear and plan for a future where we can feel safe and secure? Isn't now the moment to look at good financial planning, not simply financial advice but real planning? And isn't now the moment to look for the right financial planner to help you?
 
Because tomorrow ...........?

Regards,

Nicholas.
ME:    I’m a financial planner. I help people make sense of money.

PC:     Really...You’re a better man than me (smile). I’ve always found it to be confusing and boring. And, to be honest, I’m not sure you can trust anyone these days. So what do you actually do?

ME:    It’s kind of you to ask. Do you really want to know?

PC:     Yes I do.

ME:    Okay. I help people to articulate their goals and objectives, their aspirations if you like, and together we work out a way of making that happen for them. We start with the end in mind and work out what we need to do to get there. It can be very exciting.

PC:     That sounds pretty complicated to me, probably involves a lot of soul searching. I just tend to live from day to day, doing my best and taking my luck where I find it and rolling with the punches. It’s worked alright for us so far. Well...mostly alright. To be honest, and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, we lost a lot of money in the recession, the credit cards got a bit of a bashing and it’s been hard work pulling everything back together. Things are better now though and I know we should be making plans for the future, but where do you start...?

ME:    At the beginning. With the truth. You begin by understanding exactly where you are now – your assets, your income, your expenditure, your debts, your investments and pensions. The truth will set you free. And in my experience, it’s never as bad as you think. It will put you back in control of things.

PC:     Well, yes that does sound a bit better...and I know we should be doing it.

ME:    Would it be helpful to see where you are likely to be in 5, 10, 15 years time? A financial snapshot if you like of your future self. Do you think that would help you to make better decisions today?

PC:     Well, yes it might...it could also be pretty frightening. I thought you guys were just trying to get our money!

ME:    Of course we are! (Smiling). The truth is that a financial plan driven by your goals and objectives will always involve savings and investments. It also involves you getting what you want, by taking control of your future...instead of trusting to luck and good fortune.

PC:     You’re right. We really should be doing something like this.

ME:    Okay. Come and spend an hour with me at my expense and I’ll show you how it works. Have you got your diary handy?  
Sara Cutting was 47 when she was diagnosed with cancer. To raise £10,000 for Macmillan cancer support she has published a photograph of herself on Twitter every day since her diagnosis in October 2014 wearing something outrageous on her bald head. Head gear has included a vintage radio, a teapot, purple orchids donated by celebrity hatter Philip Treacy and a fascinator donated by her Mum. Cutting regularly exhorts her thousands of followers to, “now go check your tits.” (You can follow Sara - @fizzysnood)

There will be 2.5 million people living with cancer in UK in 2015 according to Macmillan Cancer Support. The majority of these people will survive five years. Most of these people will face significant financial hardship . Some will lose their homes and their businesses, many will never recover their financial equilibrium.

According to Robert Watkins of Macmillan, four in five (83%) of cancer patients are hit with an average cost of £570 per month as a result of their illness – comparable to a mortgage payment. Additionally one in three (33%) are losing an average of £860 per month in earnings because they are unable to work or have to cut down their hours.

Everyone of those 2.5 million people would benefit from having appropriate insurance to draw on in their hour of need. There is no doubt that financial worries contribute to the appalling stress and trauma that a cancer diagnosis brings. One patient says:

“I had everything ripped away from me. I lost my business, I lost my home – all because of my cancer diagnosis. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I spent sleepless nights alone worrying about where the money was going to come from for basic living. It was very scary.”

The hardest part of this is that there is very little a financial planner can do to protect people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, other than help them to minimise the damage to their finances. It is only those who are not yet affected who can truly protect themselves from these consequences.

But we don’t want to think about it... do we?

I’m pretty sure everyone of those 2.5 million people wish they had.

Protection from the financial consequence of serious illness and disability should always be the foundation of a financial plan. It’s so easy to arrange now, so difficult to find when it’s too late.

Regards,

Nicholas.
 
There it is! A simple financial plan that will never let you down. All each of us has to do is work out on a regular basis how to allocate our money between these three priorities. By doing this we learn to make choices, those sometimes uncomfortable trade-offs between ‘this’ and ‘that’, between ‘now’ and ‘tomorrow’, between the ‘right’ thing and the ‘fun’ thing. Gradually we learn to view our financial lives as a continuum not, as so many of us do, from pay day to pay day.

When do we start?

Right at the beginning of course when we are children. Here is a life-changing observation:

You can’t always get what you want.

For the Stones fans out there, the rest of the line is true too.

In his brilliant new book ‘The Opposite of Spoiled’ Ron Lieber writes:

“We parents are in the adult making business after all, and we should do everything possible to build grown up humans with 15 or 20 years of experience handling money.”

The book deserves to be read by parents who want to learn how to bring up our children to make a better job of handling money, perhaps better than we have ourselves. This is not so much about the nuts and bolts of bank accounts and savings plans, it is more about how to teach our children the art of making conscious choices while living within their means.

I particularly like one of Ron Lieber’s suggestions about allowances. After agreeing an allowance with your child, divide the money equally into three jars. It is important for your child to be able to see the money, so not a piggy bank. Then label each jar SPEND SAVE GIVE and perhaps have some fun decorating each jar.
Effectively this is a first budget because there is money for spending soon, some for people who may need it more than we do and some to keep for when we may need or want something later. As the child gets older they can begin to allocate the money themselves in whatever proportion makes sense to them. It is important that they learn so they should be allowed to spend the money on anything they want.

This system will create a simple structure around which you can have many thoughtful conversations with your child. You will be handing them control over their own money and enabling them to make their own decisions about what they want. And you will be teaching them time-honoured lessons about budgeting and self-control.

As an adult would this training as a child have helped you make a better job of handling your finances?
Me too.

Regards,

Nicholas.



Can't watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below:


Welcome to the penultimate video of The Baby Boomer Series; today we’re discussing debt.

Let’s get straight down to the bottom line - debt does not die with you.

Many of us have been through a tough period during the recession. Those of us in our late 50s are still working, and some of us following a redundancy because of the recession, have started our own small business. We may have re-mortgaged the house to put more money into the business. If so It is very important for you to understand that it is a debt, and if you were to die unexpectedly you would leave that debt to your dependents, principally your spouse or partner. I have heard people say, “Well it wouldn't be a problem. He / she could just sell the house and move on.”

Is that really what you want your spouse to have to do in those circumstances?

It really is worth thinking that through and seeing what you can do to plan appropriately. The most obvious thing of course is to remove the debt as quickly as possible, but this is always a little bit harder to do and takes time. It may be appropriate to think about life insurance to ensure that, in the event of your unexpected death, the debt is repaid.

This episode really has the same message that runs throughout the whole Baby Boomer Series, which is talk to each other - talk to your family, talk to your business partners and work out what’s going to be the best way for all of you.  

Regards,

Nicholas.

1.2bn smart phones were sold in 2014, a 28% increase on 2013. The majority were sold by Apple who pipped Samsung to the post by a small margin. I would like to bet my aging Apple smart phone that very few of those 1.2 billion people had this kind of conversation with themselves while purchasing their phone:

“How much is that lovely shiny smart phone?"

“About two month’s work after taxes, national insurance and all other essential costs like food and shelter. Is it worth it to you?”

“Well, that’s a lot of work, just for a phone... are there any cheaper ones?”

“Yes.”

That last question is wonderful: Are there any phones that cost me less of my life?”

My twenty-eight year old daughter wants a new phone. She went to the shop and discovered that this shiny item will cost her £500. She baulked at that. And she wasn’t prepared to enter into a contract to buy it over two years by paying monthly instalments. Instead she has found a reconditioned one for less than half the price. That means less of her life spent earning money to generate profits for a telecommunications company. Smart.

This relationship between time and money works in reverse. My wife and I were crawling along a crowded motorway. At this rate we were unlikely to get to our destination in time. We noticed a toll road that would take us on a slightly longer route and cost us £6.50 but avoid the worsening congestion on the motorway.
We were soon driving at 70mph on a relatively uncrowded road and we reached our destination in time, at least an hour earlier than if we had stayed on the motorway. The vast majority of the other drivers didn’t take the toll road. They made the conscious decision to stay on the congested motorway, because they valued their money more than their time.

How truly conscious are we of the time value of money when we buy things?

Would that help us to make better decisions about how we spend our money? And would it help us to avoid the pain we feel about unnecessary debt?

Regards,

Nicholas.
falling_coinsWhen I have been working with a client for a while I usually remind them of Woody Allen’s definition of a stockbroker as being, “..someone who invests your money...  until it’s all gone.”

For those of you who are planning on ‘freeing your pension’ may I offer a word of caution. Most of us have unknowingly handed over lots of our money to investment managers without really knowing what we are getting for these charges and commissions. The term ‘investment management’ can be applied to almost anyone who has something to do with handling other people’s money. As Polly Toynbee pointed out:
 “Almost all the £27.2bn the state spends on pension tax reliefs vanishes into the pockets of the Boys with the red braces” ( Guardian, 3.3.2015)

And the concern is that this will continue once the new Pension freedoms come into play on 6th April 2015. Let’s be clear about what these new freedoms are.

From 6th April anyone aged 55 or over will be able to withdraw all of their pension pot if they wish. 25% of the fund will be tax free and the remainder can be taken as income and taxed at the individual’s marginal rate. Most people will probably choose to take the tax –free cash and then an annual income according to their needs. The big change is that people do not have to buy an annuity, they can leave their money invested and draw from it as they wish.

And this is where care needs to be taken. According to the consumer group WHICH  pension companies will charge those who make regular withdrawals as much as 2.76 per cent a year. This is more than three-and-a-half times the Government’s 0.75 per cent cap on the fund charges for auto-enrolment schemes. According to the research there are vast differences in charges. One firm charged 0.5 percentage points more than another for investing in the same fund. At another charges ranged from 0.44 per cent to 1.24 per cent for very similar funds.

I recommend taking advice before doing anything. Starting with:

Why I am accessing my pension fund now?
What do I want to achieve with the money?
How can I minimise the tax and the charges? 

Regards,
Nicholas.

Welcome to the fourth video in the Baby Boomer Series – this week we’ll be looking at the issue of downsizing your home.

Downsizing a large family home is becoming a very popular option for releasing capital and reducing living expenses. Many Baby Boomers find themselves owning a huge home thanks to the housing boom of the last thirty years. By huge I refer to the amount of space it takes up and the money it takes to run it. My suggestion is that you talk to your family about downsizing and whether it's right for you and your loved ones.

Let’s think about this: suppose you have a house that’s worth £300,000. If you need some capital released from the  house, now is the time to do it, while you’re vigorous and able to make decisions. If you wait until you are in your seventies it won’t be as easy and will become a much bigger hurdle. Once the hurdle becomes too big, the option of equity release begins to look attractive.

In my opinion, equity release is not the best solution: interest rates are much higher on equity release mortgages (because they are fixed) and the interest charged rolls up over the years. A £25,000 loan can easily become £100,000 over twenty years. If you downsize earlier, you have the opportunity to take the money out of the house, invest it and use it provide income. You also have the option of making gifts to children and grandchildren to help with education costs or providing a deposit to get them onto the property ladder themselves. Or if you prefer you can use the 'SKI'(Spend the Kids' Inheritance!) plan. At least it’s being used for someone’s benefit rather than to a mortgage company.

So what is your action point from today? I suggest that you sit down with the family and have a conversation about downsizing. If you’re hesitant to talk to the family, then start by talking with your other half. The two of you can discuss how you feel about the prospect of downsizing, and how you could go about it cleverly.

And never forget.. your financial planner is always available to help you do just that – make plans that help you to get what you want!

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to the third video in my series for Baby Boomers.



Cant watch the video today - why not need the transcript below?
 
This time we are lightening the mood just a little bit and talk about talking!
 
Most couples find financial planning is helpful in getting them to talk to each other about their finances. People tend to need prompting to do this!
 
With most couples there is a tendency for one person to take responsibility for the money.  Although there is nothing the matter with this, what tends to happen is that the other person ends up not knowing anything.  Inevitably somebody, usually the person who is responsible for it all, dies, and the other individual is left just not knowing what on earth is going on.  This is a recipe for disaster!
 
So how do we fix this? Very easily!
 
Start by making a list of everything - assets, income, bank accounts etc.  Sit down together around the kitchen table and talk! Do this once every six months or so. Talk about what you are spending money on, talk about your assets, the income that you are getting, simply have a conversation. This may sound incredibly simple but you would be amazed how the vast majority of us just don’t do that. 
 
If you feel that you can’t, whether you can’t get yourself around to it, it just doesn’t seem to work or the conversation is not as productive as you would like then maybe talking to a financial planner would be helpful to you. 
 
So please, when it comes to your finances, Baby Boomers please talk to each other!

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to the second video of the Baby Boomer Series - Today we are looking at the subject of dementia.





Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:


Although dementia is a topic we would all probably prefer not think about or address, unfortunately it is a huge reality of old age

The purpose of this video is simply to give you some information about the financial consequences of dementia. 

If someone close to you, your family, your spouse, is unable to look after their own financial affairs it can create chaos. It may not be possible to access a bank account or do something as simple as renewing a car insurance policy. You cannot make decisions on a person’s behalf unless you have a Power of Attorney.  The point of course is that a Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables whoever you appoint to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.

My mother is now 90 years old and unfortunately is unable to do anything for herself since suffering a stroke. Luckily, we had arranged and put in place a Power of Attorney many years ago when she was much younger and able to make those kinds of decisions.  It has meant my brother and I have been able to deal with her financial affairs, her house and car, paying her bills – relatively easily.

The emotional impact of dealing with someone close to you who is suffering from dementia is huge. It's a relief not to have to worry about the money side of things. Although my Mother’s situation was slightly different in that she had a stroke rather than suffering dementia, I have been very grateful for that power of attorney.

If you don’t currently have a Power of Attorney, may I suggest that you take a few minutes to please research them. If you’re not really sure where to start or to look, send me an email and I can give you some more information.

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to Episode 1 of my Baby Boomer series.



Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:
 
We are going to be starting right at the end by looking at ‘Death’.  Essentially, this is a subject that I talk a great deal about with clients because it is a key to the way in which we plan our finances.
 
Benjamin Franklin said “The only thing that’s certain in life is death and taxes” and of course, to an extent, he is right! 
 
Death is an emotional subject - I have my own experiences around this and all I can offer you is just some very simple basic ideas on what you should be thinking about around death.
 
Remember, by looking at this subject you are setting things up for your dependants, for your spouse and for your children and I’m sure you’ll agree, there can be nothing more important than that!
 
So what are the issues that we need to consider? Clearly you need a Will, as well as needing to think about (quite carefully!) whom you would appoint as Executors. If you have assets in excess of £500k (and most of us have these days the way in which house prices have increased) then you need to be thinking about a Trust. You’ll need to give some thought to protecting your assets from potential nursing care costs in the future. And if you have grandchildren, you might want to think about making gifts to them and therefore hopping over a generation.
 
There really is quite a lot to think about, and some important decisions to be made!
 
The real issue is getting our heads around this difficult subject; the worst thing you can actually do is bury your head in the sand and not directly deal with it.
 
Just think, none of us have go to this Baby Boomer age without having experienced death in our own lives.  Think of the effect and the emotions around your experiences and think of how you want so much to help your children and your dependents at that very difficult time. 

So, let’s have the conversations now, let's take the actions we need to take now, ideally with the guidance of a caring financial planning practitioner. Then we can get on and  enjoy the 'best years of our lives' with the peace of mind of knowing we've done the right thing.

Regards,

Nicholas.
Happy New Year and welcome to the first video of the Baby Boomers series!

In this series of video blogs we will be talking about some of the important issues that, as Baby Boomers, we need to be addressing – it’s going to be a kind of mental spring clean!




Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below?

As baby boomers in our early sixties we’ve reached the point where we have accumulated some money and now, hopefully, have some time to do some of the things we want to do. This series of videos is about prompting you to attend to the 'housekeeping' issues that we'd all prefer to avoid.

These are:
  • The financial consequences of death
  • The potential effects of dementia.
  • The effect of debt on your estate.
  • The importance of talking about these issues rationally and constructively.
  • When and how to downsize your home.
Each video will provide some information designed to prompt you to begin sorting out these difficult issues and, if you feel it is appropriate, seek the advice of a good financial planner.

Talking to one of my clients the other day she explained to me that she was very worried about her ageing parents. One of them is suffering from dementia and there are issues around care and money and what is best. Now well into their eighties and having not made any plans or provision for this situation, they are finding it difficult to cope, and my client understandably feels responsible for them.

As I listened  to her I realised how very important it is that we, as baby boomers in our sixties, make plans for whatever situation we may face in twenty years time. We owe this to ourselves and to our children.

So, let’s have the conversations now, let's take the actions we need to take now, ideally with the guidance of a caring financial planning practitioner. Then we can get on and  enjoy the 'best years of our lives' with the peace of mind of knowing we've done the right thing.

Regards,

Nicholas.
There are so many myths about money it of course won’t be possible to cover them all in a short video blog series, but I wanted to address the three main myths which I think, once addressed, could have a positive impact on your life.

This week we look at our final Myth of the series – more money means more happiness.




Can't watch the video today? Why not read the transcript:

We all know in our hearts that this myth isn’t true but it doesn’t actually stop us trying to earn more money, trying to get ‘more stuff’ and, somehow, believing that this will make us happy!

Here’s a question for you though; it’s all very well talking about this ‘stuff’ but what do you actually do about it? 

We need some action that will help us to think more sensibly about our lives and about our money.

So here’s the concept, of which I’m sure many of you will have heard of before - The concept of Gratitude. 
The diagram is pretty straight forward (I am indebted to Carl Richards for it!) Put your name in the middle and you are surrounded by a circle of gratitude.  It’s almost as if gratitude inoculates us from the crazy sort of greediness that can take hold of us at times. I then suggest that you take the gratitude challenge. 

It takes about 21 days to change a habit – take a look the circle of gratitude or the Gratitude Habit website for a little more in depth background to this.  For 21 days you write down in a gratitude journal 3 very simple things that you are grateful for. I’m sure you’re grateful for your health, you’re grateful for your children, you’re grateful for so many, many things, so many blessings that we have all received.  Make sure you put these into your journal!

My belief is that in doing so, you will actually change your attitude towards your money and the way you connect your money to your life. What you are effectively doing is creating a different attitude towards your financial planning in your life.

My hope is that this will enable you to have or create something that is much more meaningful and much more about you, rather than some sort of crazy idea about having to have lots of Porsche’s in the drive and that kind of stuff…. Frankly, it’s a bit silly and not that all that meaningful!

I hope you find this blog helpful.  Please do let me know if you decide to take the Gratitude Challenge.  I’ll be delighted to hear from you. 

Regards,

Nicholas.

REFERENCES:

www.thnx4.org
 
Welcome to the second of my mini video blog series on Myths about Money.

Myth number two is simply “Having fancy stuff makes us wealthy.” 



Not able to watch the video today? Read the Transcripton below:

Even saying it sounds ridiculous!

Nevertheless, many of us (and I am included in this) believe that the more impressive stuff we have, the wealthier we are.

If we stop to think about it, I think we know this is not true.

My Mum had a wonderful saying, she used to say “Oh yes, we know about them – it’s all kippers and curtains”.  What she was saying was look at those people, they live in a big house, it’s all beautifully impressive. On the outside they’ve got fabulous curtains, but in fact they’re having to live on kippers because they haven’t got any money.  Their net worth, their wealth, is extremely low. 

The question is, once we get into this mindset, what do we do about it? 

My thought is that we look at the examples that are open to us: Warren Buffet is worth something in the region of $80 billion, but do you know what salary he takes? Only $100,000 a year. In fact, he lives in an ordinary suburban house, he drives a five year old Ford, he’s just an ordinary guy, but his net worth is huge – and that’s the secret!

So how do we emulate that?  How do we realise that it’s our net worth that really counts for something rather than all the impressive things we have a tendency to surround ourselves with?

Here’s a thought.  What would happen if we actually had to write our net worth on our foreheads? It’s about being a bit more public about the decisions that we make around spending money.

How can we actually create a situation where we are making buying decisions that will help us rather than hurt us?  I think to some extent one of the things that could be helpful here is talking to a financial life planner.  Somebody who can actually say “Let’s look at your situation, let’s find out exactly where you are and let’s help you to make better buying decisions – less stuff and more substance.”

I hope that’s been helpful to you, it would be great to hear from you.  Let me know what you think and if you have an opportunity, do take a look at the references below.

Regards,

Nicholas.

REFERENCES:

http://www.zenhabits.net 

http://www.theminimalists.com/
 
Transcendental meditation (TM) is a wonderfully simple meditation technique practised by millions of people throughout the world. Brought to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955 it gained in popularity in the Sixties when the Beatles learnt the practice.

I learnt in 1988 when the stress of a demanding business and a young family was causing sleepless nights and all the unpleasant symptoms that go with it. Within a few weeks of meditating daily I was sleeping well, feeling happier and facing the challenges of everyday life in a positive way.

It is simple to do, easy and inexpensive to learn and the benefits are extraordinary.

Please follow this link - www.meditationtrust.com - for more information.

And if you feel I can help, please feel free to contact me.
Welcome to the third blog in my ‘Myths about Money’ mini blog series. This week I’m going to address the extremely common myth of “‘I don’t understand money!”.



Not able to watch the video today? Read the Transcripton below:

What this concept/idea actually does is to stop us from doing anything at all! We just get trapped in a sort of mental-prison continuously telling ourselves how we don’t understand money.  Let’s put a stop to that!
Here’s the question to ask yourself – “What would have to happen for me to become the financial director of my own life?”

In fact the answer is really, really simple. I didn’t say it was easy, but I promise you it is simple!

The first step that you need to take is to simply carry out a financial audit.  Make a list of your expenditure; I would strongly recommend that you divide that in to needs (that’s to say mortgage payment, council tax, food, so on and so forth) and wants (holidays, going out for meals, that kind of thing). It’s important to have a discussion around what is a want because sometimes you might find that what you believe is a want is actually a need and vice versa.

Next, you need to find out where your income is coming from; look at the amount of tax you’re paying, make a list of your assets and define any assets that are actually generating income. Once you have completed these two steps you will have created a reasonable financial picture.
But that simply isn’t enough!  

You need to decide for yourself (or talk with your partner) about what’s important to you and what you actually want to achieve in life. That includes right now, next week, next month, next year and in ten years’ time. 

People often do talk to each other about money but more often than not they don’t do anything afterwards. They don’t take action as a result!

To take action is absolutely the key thing. My belief is that 90% of the time you’ll probably need a third party to help you formulate some kind of a plan and then to help action it.

You’ve had the difficult conversation, so follow it up and act upon the information you’ve found out. By finding a way out of this self-imposed prison, we move towards freedom - freedom around our money and therefore freedom in our lives.

If you would like to have a no obligation conversation with me about how I might help you to move forward with your financial planning do please get in touch.

Regards,

Nicholas.

Book References:

All That You're Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi
(Simon & Schuster 2005)

How To Worry Less About Money (The School Of Life) by John Armstrong
(Macmillan 2012)
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