Taking Stock - My Personal Financial Awakening

I absolutely love birthdays, New Year’s, and Easter.  These days represent more than a holiday, but an opportunity to reflect on your life and ask some meaningful questions.  Aside from celebrating Easter this past weekend, this week represents a month long reflection of my turning a year shy of 40.  On these occasions, I always ask myself 3 questions:

1.  Did I expect to be in this stage in my life a year, five years, 20 years ago?
2.  What did I do wrong that I want to avoid in the future?
3.  What are my short and long term goals and what have I accomplished since my last reckoning?
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on the first question.

I’ve been fortunate to answer no to Question 1.  But maybe I would have changed a few things.  Apart from recognizing that my growth both mentally and professionally, it’s a reminder that I’ve adapted enough to continuously step outside of my comfort zone to reinvent a better me.  Complacency, or rather comfort, kills.

Let’s rewind a bit and examine what my life looked like while I was in the Navy.  I possessed a devil-may-care attitude with my finances primarily revolving around good times with with friends in strange and exotic locales.  Without a mortgage, a wife, or a kid to slow me down and all my basic necessities taken care of, I spent the better part of a decade partying.  I, like many others who left the military, had next to nothing except for a pair of seabags and a car loan.  While I’m sure I needed that experience to understand that financial position, it most certainly delayed my financial awakening by a few years.
How many of you can relate?  In the financial world, financial professionals will talk about the ‘lost decade’.  It’s the 10 years, give or take, where your opportunity to start saving is missed, usually in your early to late 20’s.  Usually, when you hit 30 is when you really start thinking seriously about your financial future, but for some it’s still a longshot.  Some of us identify this lost decade with the years after college, when you brandished your new degree and thought to conquer the world with your passion and knowledge in your particular vocation and then – LIFE HAPPENS.  Mom and Dad aren’t sending you any more checks.  You have rent.  Utilities.  Cable TV is a luxury.  You find yourself scrounging for change and your boss or company makes a place like Dunder Mifflin look like a great place to work.
Then there are others, like a couple of Chiefs I know and a close buddy of mine who married early, left the military, and skyrocketed an IT career that started in a Navy hospital.  He, like some other friends, got ‘IT’.  Maybe it was the forced responsibility of caring for a family that became a powerful motivator as it had for the generation who fought WWII (The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw is still a fantastic read).  They helped build an America that we now take for granted.
My point is, we all eventually arrive at some financial epiphany of our own.  For some it’s later than others, but it certainly never too late.  
Take stock of your own financial journey.  What mistakes have you made in the past that you now have an opportunity to correct – or even better, avoid?  These are great times to identify mistakes, regroup, and re-commit to your own financial goals.
If you want to share your experiences with me or need help in taking action, give me a call at (312) 493-2054 or email me at gene@prophetfinancialinc.com
You can also read and educate yourself by browsing through past blogs written or filmed by my friend and mentor, Matt Sapaula at www.moneysmartradio.com

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