Beginning this month and continuing through December 2003, I'm going to use this space to take you on a financial journey, showing you the truest ways to protect the money you have and create the money that you deserve.
I'm going to ask you to face your fears—starting now. Money is frightening to most of us, and this is an especially scary time. Stocks have fallen from their dizzying highs, and some of your retirement accounts may be way down. Credit card debt is a national epidemic. Job layoffs continue, yet the costs of housing, medical care and education do not seem to reflect that reality. Meanwhile, we all still feel vulnerable after 9/11.
The first step toward a new sense of your own power is to know what you're afraid of. Take out a piece of paper and spend the time you need to write down your financial fears. Think about them.
List them all. Are you afraid that you'll lose your job? Write down how you'd pay your monthly expenses if you did. If you don't know how you'd manage, that's okay; later in the year, I'll help you make a plan so you'll feel safe. Are you paralyzed because you can't face your debt? I want you to collect every current credit card and loan statement and list what you owe and at what interest rate you owe it; I promise there's a way to pay it off. Are you concerned you'll never have enough to buy a house, send your kids to college, take time off from work, or retire? Do a few simple calculations, and write down the amount of money you think you need to live the way you want. Unexamined fears turn you away from your money; facing your fears will bring you toward it.
I know this will be hard, but please do it so that we can move on. I'll see you next month.