It is hard to believe four years have passed since I first brought the Silver Eagle Experiment to my church. It is hard to believe that during that time I have written over 350 articles for this blog. I hope you have benefitted from all that I have learned over those years. I am a Christian. I believe God answers prayer and watches over his children. On the other hand, for over 27 years I worked as a research engineer. In this capacity I lived in a world of probabilities. I can not state with certainty that your carefully selected, well diversified portfolio won’t go belly up tomorrow. I can not state with certainty that if your retirement savings plan consist of lottery tickets you won’t hit the jackpot allowing you the option of retirement in Hawaii. I wish I had easy answers for the personal finance crisis that has overwhelmed so many of my brothers and my sisters. There are two sides to the money equation. ∫ (Money In) d/dt = ∫ (Money Stored + Money Spent) d/dt
(This equation is integrated over your lifetime)
It is kind of hard to store much money if there is no money coming into the system. Unemployment, long term illness, and accidents do happen to good people trying hard to do the right things for the right reasons.
Matthew 10: (NIV)
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Still the sparrows fell to the ground along with a considerable amount of my hair. Yet we are told, “Fear not.”
Lately I have been studying motivational speakers. I want to become more skillful at helping my readers take those first uncomfortable steps towards improving their situation, whatever it may be. Remember, I am one of my own most frequent readers. There are times when I am giving myself a kick in the backside. I also read the critics in an effort to avoid some of the excesses and questionable content found in the teachings of some notable personal financial gurus. Recently one woman has written a book attacking some of the better know names in this field. She is gaining some traction in the commercial financial press both print and television. Actually, she questions some of the same issues I have questioned in this blog. However, I must ask the question, “What is she doing to help people improve their condition in this material world?” Unfortunately the answer is absolutely nothing.
So what can I offer my readers or even myself in a world where there are no certain answers and no easy answers? Old truths, like deferred gratification and the Protestant work ethic. They don’t provide guarantees but when applied properly and consistently offer a high probability of improving your financial situation.
First of all accept that success is possible. Somewhere there is someone who is like you who is succeeding with problems that are just as bad as your problems.
Become a master learner. Study your models of success. Breakdown what those people are doing and then apply the lessons to your own life. The best way to learn what they are doing? Ask them. Not only will you learn but you might add an important node to your network.
Bruce Lee observed, “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” You don’t need to become someone else. If some person you do not respect even has one grain of truth is his life that could benefit you, jump on it.
Clean the garbage out of your mind. That would include things like the seven deadly sins. If you are having money problems some mix of envy and pride is going to be a temptation. If you are spending time reading something like this, I doubt that you have a problem with sloth.
Christians are not alone in stressing the importance of the interior life. “According to Buddhist psychology, major depression is itself not regarded as a “mental affliction” (kilesa) per se but is rather a symptom of the underlying afflictions of craving, hostility and delusion.”
Face the truth. Hiding your head like an ostrich will not make your troubles go away. Bruce Lee again, “What is” is more important than ‘what should be.’ Too many people are looking at ‘what is’ from a position of thinking ‘what should be’.”
Look for one easy win. This is why Dave Ramsey recommends that his students work their way out of debt starting with the smallest debt, no matter what the interest rate. That quick win will build confidence. Bruce Lee taught, “Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”
Then take the next step. There is always a next step. Along the road you will make mistakes but one last time from Bruce Lee, “Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
Now let me finish where I began. I am a Christian. I believe God answers prayer. Even if you don’t believe, will saying a prayer hurt?
Philippians 4: (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As you walk the path towards both your short and long term goals with faith, gratitude, and generosity, I believe that the God who owns all the silver and all the gold hidden in a thousand hills will share some of it with you, no matter who you are or how desperate your circumstances.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.