Building Financial Strength
The Chef Thymes is thrilled to have this series of articles on finances. Whether you are 10 or 60 it is never to early or too late to learn financial principles for a sound mind. This article contributes to building financial confidence by Steve Orr. Stephen is a regular contributor in our Coaches Corner which offers readers hope. See Steves Bio in our ABOUT page. Steve writes through his career as a banker, bank examiner, federal bank regulator, and federal investigator. In my early adult years I heard a talk given by Steve on financial stewardship and principles. These principles have guided my handling of finances. You too will benefit from Steves Wisdom.
Building Financial Strength
By Steve Orr
“The First Step”
Through this series of articles, we are going to take a journey ... a journey toward financial strength. Like any journey, we will need to plan it, and accomplish it, using the right tools. There will be milestones and landmarks along the way, memories we will want to capture, and discoveries that may surprise us.
On a cross-country drive, the first thing we would do is get a map and plan our route. And to do that, we would need to, first, locate where we are on the map. So, our first step on the journey to financial strength is the one we take before we “go” anywhere: assessment.
Unless we know where we are, we can’t plan our journey. This first article will, then, address how we decide what is the current state of our financial strength.
Step One: Inventory
What do you have and what has you? Like all the actions you will take on this journey, their success depends entirely on you, and especially on you being honest with yourself.
On an piece of lined paper (or on a computer spreadsheet ... whatever is easiest for you), list out your assets and their worth. If possible, try to make some groups as you go: cash, liquid investments (something that isn’t cash, but could be easily turned into cash: sticks, bonds, CDs, etc.), cars, trucks, houses (even if you have a loan against it), collectibles, furniture, tools, items in which you share ownership with others, etc. You may think of other categories.
The idea, here, is to show yourself what you have. This might take you a few times; don’t be concerned. Very few people can list all their assets on the first try. Once done, add up the amounts to get a total value of your assets.
After you have made your asset list, you need to make a second list: each debt you owe and to whom. You need this list and it needs to be both complete and honest. Remember: only you need read this list. Until you know who can claim some of your assets, you do not have a complete picture.
Finally, make a third list of what you can use. These are not “assets” belonging to you. Rather, they are locations, tools, people, and other resources you may put to use. Friendships, relatives, empty garages, your brother-in-law’s woodworking tools, etc.; be imaginative in creating this list.
Are you done? Good. Are you surprised at what you’ve learned? Most of us have more opportunity than we realize. Now, you have a starting point for your journey to financial strength. In future articles, we will look at how you put these to use, as well as such matters as a personal budget, saving money when there seems to be none, the very careful use of credit, and leveraging the goodwill of friends and family (and the potential risks of that, too).
Until next time, I strongly recommend you get hold of a copy of a thin book named, THE RICHEST MAN IN BABYLON. Get it the cheapest way you can (see if your local library has a copy you can borrow), because all that matters is that you read it and think about it.
To your benefit,