“I see skies of blue and clouds of white... The bright blessed days... the dark sacred nights; And I think to myself... What a wonderful world."
—from "What a Wonderful World" as performed by Louis Armstrong
Changing our financial habits is like implementing an alteration in any other part of our lives. It's not easy. Take Rich Roll for example.
Roll is a Stanford grad with a law degree from Cornell. He successfully practiced corporate entertainment law, but found his personal life in disarray.
By age 31, he had undergone alcohol rehab.
By age 40 he had stopped drinking, but was 50 pounds of double cheeseburgers north of the 160 he had carried as a competitive swimmer at Stanford.
On his 40th birthday he became winded walking up a flight of stairs. The next day, he embarked on a lifestyle journey that included changing to a plant-based diet and getting lots of exercise. In one of Roll's books, he describes the brief but terrible torture of giving up coffee, dairy, meat and fish on the same day. Now that's a lifestyle change!
Two years after buying his first racing bicycle he competed and placed in an ultra-endurance contest. Many more competitions involving biking, swimming and running followed.
Six years ago his memoir became a No. 1 bestseller. It was entitled "Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself."
His podcast, begun a year later, is consistently ranked among the iTunes Top 10. Roll and his wife July Piatt published a bestselling cookbook in 2014.
What's the economic connection? Restructuring our financial habits can be as challenging and difficult as changing our eating and exercise patterns. Financial habits are very similar to dietary habits.
Without really knowing how it happens, we immerse ourselves in daily and weekly spending and money rituals, not all of which are good for us.
Many of us adopt the financial methods our parents used; or sometimes we simply spend to provide ourselves with temporary euphoria or stress relief. It is truly comparable to eating patterns influenced by tension and other factors.
I know someone who, upon awakening each morning, walks for exercise. Why roll out of bed and hit the street then? She's a busy person, and no matter what else happens that day, she's got her exercise accomplished.
It's like rewarding yourself first on payday. The day we get paid, we put aside what we've budgeted for saving and investing, and then we live on the rest.
If we don't do it on payday, we may not get to it.
Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC®, AIF®, author of the syndicated economic column “Arbor Outlook,” is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850.608.6121 – www.arborwealth.net), a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.