We taught a workshop at the Rowe Conference Center in Western MA last weekend. Or should I say 12 very diverse people taught us what they wanted to learn. Their questions and confusions about Step 1 in Your Money or Your Life made me wish Joe Dominguez hadn’t put it first. The balance sheet (assets, liabilities, net worth) was daunting but do-able. Any financial planner will have you do that as a first step of working together. Indeed, how can you get where you are going if you don’t know where you are?
The tally of lifetime income had many throw their hands up – especially people my age who’d worked for 40 years and, if they are like me, now have quite selective memories. If that was a necessary first step, they just couldn’t do the program. Our response was: just get your Statement of Lifetime Earnings that Social Security sends out periodically. It’s summarizes reported income and probably most of what you earned is in the SS records. The inventory of possessions was equally daunting and people were lost in the details rather than seeing that it is simply one method for getting at a core experience: that A LOT of money has come into and gone out of your life and, for all that volume of money, many people have precious little in this moment to show for it. It is designed to be a wake up call, not a document you staple to your insurance policy should your house burn down.
What to do? I’ve come to the opinion that doing Steps 2, 3, 4 and 5 is the heart and soul of the Your Money or Your Life program. These set up the tracking and evaluation system so you can see what is happening NOW. They contain the three key awakenings:
- Money is Life Energy
- Beyond the point of “enough”, more isn’t better
- Translate dollars into hours of life energy and see if the hours of your life you’re spending for the stuff you’re acquiring is adding up to a life you love?
Revisiting Step One I’d say… visit it later if it’s in the way and get on with Step Two. Or get the lifetime earnings from Social Security, review your assets and liabilities (savings and investments, value of your home if you own it (both http://realestate.yahoo.com/Homevalues and http://zillow.com) yielded that same value for my house – minus outstanding debt including your mortgage) and leave the inventory for later.