Money & Its Emotional Toll
In preparing for a national radio show this summer (7/23/13 program), the host explained what he wanted to cover with me. He was curious how I went from a career in full-time church-based youth ministry to an award-winning career as a field leader in the financial services industry.
Simple. Being in ministry put us in debt.
Don’t get me wrong. Being in ministry was very rewarding…and challenging. In part, because we always made so little.
Between my eight years (full-time) and my wife’s seven years, we were financially stressed. Very stressed.
I knew people in sales, especially in financial sales, like investments and insurance. It was all too clear that they were doing better financially than we were. When I debated whether I could be successful in that industry, I recognized that sales people need “people skills” and the ability to connect with others about matters of the heart. Since that is an essential skill in ministry, I believed that it could be a 2nd career path that I’d find both successful and meaningful. In fact, it ended up feeling as much a ministry as actually working within a church building.
The Trouble With Money
As a leader in a national financial planning firm, I saw a common thread in how people interacted with their money…how they felt about it…how they reacted to it.
“Trouble with money”—whether it’s our attitude about it or our behaviors with it—causes people a lot of stress. A nearly universal experience was that people didn’t feel like they ever had enough money. This wasn’t about greed, but about fear.
When Fear Comes To Town
Kara was 85 years old and widowed for many years. Her lifestyle was very comfortable. She was in extraordinarily good health. She had more than a half-million dollars in liquid assets. And she was very worried about what would happen if her health failed. She didn’t want to be a burden to her two adult kids, even though they were very successful in their own right. But Kara wanted to be sure that even an extreme long-term care event wouldn’t derail anyone in the family, financially. So, I completed a financial plan for her and was able to definitively show her she’d be fine; they’d be fine.
Ron was a depressed 57-year old when I met him. He’d lost over 50% of his retirement assets (401k plan at a major company) during the dot.com crash of 2000-2002. Because of the drop in his net worth, Ron concluded he’d need to keep working until he was at least 70. His goal of full-time fishing at age 60 was gone. Why?
He’d come to believe that because his 401(k) had reached $750,000, that he therefore needed $750,000 to retire.
Just because that’s how big the number on his statement got to before falling. When we completed a financial plan, we discovered that—based on his desired lifestyle needs and retirement goals—he only needed that value to be about $350,000, at age 60. He still had three more years to work and save…and his “shrunken” 401(k) was more than that. This news completely changed his outlook and empowered him to move forward with his original goal for retirement.
Before taking any steps, you need to get a clear picture of where your path is going. We need to work at rejecting fear in our lives. In the next blog, we’ll look at practical steps for healthy responses to money.
Engage here. What’s your experience with money? How about those around you? If you haven’t yet, download our free guide, Reclaim Your Purpose.