Monday, August 8, 2016
Plan it. Write it down. Make it happen.
I recently read an article that mentioned the results of an unnamed survey indicating that there was a close correlation between net worth and good health in older couples. After accounting for all other variables, the researchers discovered that individuals who are financially and physically healthy in their golden years are planners. They are far more likely to have developed and followed a plan for financial freedom, as well as an exercise and diet program during the course of their life. Over the last two days, I have heard a somewhat odd idea from two different sources that you might consider as you develop and implement plans to better your condition. When Dave Ramsey speaks, he has two different speeds, that of a Southern Protestant minister preaching a sermon and a full bore over the top rant. While listening to a Dave Ramsey lecture I hadn’t heard before, he shifted into rant mode when discussing the formal zero sum budget. For those of you who don’t know Dave Ramsey, he insists that everyone, including multi-millionaires live on a formal zero sum budget every month for the rest of their lives. I was expecting this, but I was surprised when he took off after computer based budget apps. He wanted everything done on paper on purpose—really on paper! I also listened to Rabbi Daniel Lapin pitching a book I haven’t read. At one point he was talking about the evolution of a business plan. He believes that your idea takes its first step into reality when you begin to discuss the possibility with others, but he believes that writing it down with pen on paper is an important psychological step that can’t be skipped before moving it to the word processor and spread sheet. This isn’t the first time I have run into this idea. Years ago I read a somewhat over the top New Age sort of self help book entitled Write it Down. Make it Happen. I remember I found it quite well written and entertaining, but I don’t believe that just writing it down is going to guarantee that you will automatically achieve your wildest fantasies. However, I believe both from personal experience and from my understanding of learning styles, there is likely some merit to this idea. My primary learning style is auditory. I pay attention with my ears. Because I attended school in late Twentieth Century America, I was forced to learn with my eyes—books and blackboards. With the exception of practicing Tai Chi as a martial art for a number of years, I have virtually no experience in kinesthetic learning. Or do I? When learning FORTRAN, I discovered that my programs were far more likely to run correctly on the first try if I wrote them out by hand before typing them into a card punch machine or a computer terminal. I have also found this to be true when developing project plans and various kinds of formal statements. There seems to be something about hand eye coordination that reinforces the learning process, even if kinesthetic learning is not your primary style. I always ask the question, “What works?” There is no doubt that the formal zero sum budget is the gold standard, especially for people crippled with debt. However, it won’t do you any good if you don’t follow it. There are other less painful proven methods, such as the 80/20 plan that has been around for at least one hundred years. If you set aside 10% of your take home pay for savings and 10% for charity then force yourself to live on the remaining 80%, chances are you will do just fine. If you can sit down at a word processor and make magic happen without discussing your ideas or then writing them out by hand, more power to you. This blog article came straight out of hearing one lecture, and one interview, reading one article, and rehashing a few old memories during my planned morning walk. However, I did write down a tentative title for this post on paper with a pen before leaving the house. Just something for you to think about.