Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Beginning

Well, here goes nothing. I’ll be honest – I’m not entirely sure where this thing is going to go, but I’m excited to find out. I’m a little nervous too. Maybe that’s just me placing undue expectations upon myself. Or maybe that’s because I’m writing to you all. You can be a tough crowd and have been known to eat people alive. I digress. Oh, and sorry for the length of this first one. Others won’t be as bad…

It’s only fair that I briefly touch on my goals and motivations for starting this newsletter. Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly aware about how little people actually know about personal finance. I’ve got the facts to prove it. I want to change that. I want to offer you my knowledge and energies to potentially make a difference in your life. I want you to take away things that, if implemented and done properly, could greatly benefit you. I’m not saying you’ll be wealthy beyond your imagination, but you’ll be able to make critical financial decisions with a degree of confidence. I want to inspire you and give practical knowledge you can directly benefit from (a lot of times I can quantify it too – an accountant’s dream!).

I don’t claim absolute expertise in this area. But I do know a great deal. As time goes, you can decide for yourselves and judge me accordingly. Currently, however, I beg for benefit of the doubt. And now for my disclaimer: I am a personal finance and investing nerd. I hold an active CPA license in Minnesota. I’ve been investing since high school. I’ve given multiple lectures at college during my time there and since graduating. I closely follow the world of finance, both from a broad economic and personal perspective. I’ve sat down with many friends to discuss their issues and situations. However, I am NOT a Certified Financial Planner or Registered Investment Advisor. I can explain what I would do and why in situations, but I cannot tell you what to do, for obvious legal reasons (well, you could sue me). Thanks for understanding :-)

At last, the good stuff.

Awareness. My wife – bless her soul, is a registered dietitian. She often sees patients in one-on-one counseling sessions. The first thing she stresses has nothing to do with the aliment or reason they originally came. It is always awareness. There are many ways she does this. But, “how” isn’t as important as “why.” If her patients do not understand what, when, why, and how they eat, they will never begin changing those habits.

The same is true with personal finance. Awareness is the ability to recognize and know your current situation. Dig deeper and you’ll find awareness is understanding how you think, act, and react. I’m going to issue you a challenge: until the next time I write, I challenge you to start becoming aware of your personal finance situation. Ask and answer the following questions of yourself: What do I know? What do I want to know? Do I have any goals? What are they/Why not? What am I doing to stay aware of my finances? What does my exact situation look like – i.e. net worth, amount of debt, income, spending, etc? Write your answers down so you can reflect back on them in the future.    

Lastly, please know that this newsletter is for your benefit. I want to provide useful facts and advice. If I’m not explaining things clearly enough, please tell me. If you have a question that I’m not addressing, don’t hesitate to ask. Chances are someone else has the same question or thought. And know that I will never judge or be condescending. I will do my best to help and provide you tools to take control. But, ultimately, it will be your responsibility. I’m going to start with the basics and lay a solid foundation. I hope you’re ready!

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