Financial Streams of Consciousness...

This is How You Get More Out of Your Money!

I have a sweet tooth. It is so bad that we cannot keep candy, cookies, and cake in the house. I have no will-power whatsoever - none, zero, zilch (Don't judge me - LOL!) My favorite sugary snacks are vanilla bean Blue Bell ice cream, homemade apple pie, and Peanutbuter Captain Crunch (What's yours?). I can eat these items and nothing else for days on end. But something strange happens around day two. The seventh or eighth bowl of ice cream, pie, cereal, or all three - quite honestly - doesn't taste like the first. The more I consume, the less satisfied I feel. Not only am I dissatisfied, but I fall into this dangerous cycle of blood sugar highs and lows: I'm groggy, bloated, and irritable, very irritable. Yet, despite how miserable I feel, I crave more. Believe it or not, we can experience similar cycles and symptoms when it comes to pursuing more money and wealth. There is nothing wrong with this pursuit. I encourage it. The issue arises when we seek these ends without a clear end in mind. If we are not careful, we'll find ourselves groggy, bloated, and irritable, very irritable, because there is no end to the pursuit of more. As soon as we achieve one financial goal, there is another waiting in the wings. After we've purchased one vehicle with all the bells and whistles, another one comes rolling onto the lot six months later with bells and whistles we never knew we needed. Our dream home no longer feels dreamy because we just saw another listing with a kitchen, outside patio, and firepit to die for. The vacation spot we use to love has lost its zing. Our television is now too small - what's 85 inches when you can cover the whole dang wall??? - LOL! Instead of getting entangled in the endless cycle of more, have you taken a moment to contemplate what's enough? May you allow your self a moment to consider how less or fewer equal more or better? Have you ever noticed that you tend to enjoy things more when you experience them less? Think about it. Would you get excited over your birthday if you celebrated it 365 days a year? Probably not. There is something about delayed - no instant - gratification that is so damn satisfying. For instance, have you ever decided not to binge-watch a television series and allow the tension to build a few days or a week before watching the next episode? Did you enjoy the next episode more or less than a binge-watched episode? The satisfaction that comes with less is not an illusion. We've all experienced it. In most cases, unintentionally. Regardless, we more than likely left that situation feeling full - not empty. I want you to capture that moment and take it a step further. I want you to proactively prioritize less and enough into your weekly or monthly financial routine. Strategically plan to cut back financially where you can and clearly define what's enough. You might have experienced less and enough due to happenstance in the past. I am asking you to create a space where you choose to allow less and enough to thrive in your financial affairs. Your mind is probably telling you not to do it. You have been primed all of your life to associate more with more. But, in reality, more is more likely to leave you feeling barren despite all the stuff you've accumulated. What would happen if you conditioned yourself to desire less? I will go ahead and give you the answer: You'll learn how to appreciate and experience the ever-elusive more! #ModomSolutions #Less #Enough #Money #Wisdom #More

A Wealth Position State of Mind

I think we have it all wrong. The balance sheet, not the spending plan, is the main thing. Let me explain. A spending plan does not capture one's wealth position. Nor is it a means to wealth creation in and of itself. This tool helps an individual or household track his or her cash inflows and outflows. You can make good money, be completely debt-free, have a detailed spending plan, and have a zero wealth position. We have placed such an emphasis on debt that some people believe they are financially sophisticated and better off because they don't have any, which isn't always the case. Like one should not assume that someone is financially unsophisticated and not well off because they carry some debt. Wealth is a calculation, not a perception. If your financial goal is establishing wealth, I believe that doing so is the result of utilizing the spending plan to execute your balance sheet aims. The balance sheet is where you analyze your wealth position and determine what might be the best strategy to improve your wealth position by a specified dollar amount or percent each year. Assets - Liabilities = Your Wealth Position! Naturally, when thinking about this equation, more assets and fewer liabilities equal greater wealth. But most people do not know their wealth position. If you do not know your wealth position, how can you effectively utilize your spending plan to work towards a better wealth position given your current financial capacity? You can't! In fact, when is the last time you made a financial decision and thought to yourself, "I wonder how this is going to affect my wealth position?" Or, better yet, "I wonder how this decision will affect my family's inter-generational wealth position?" Every decision we make can be viewed through this lens: Should I take on this amount of student loan debt? Do I need to spend this much money on a car? Should I ask for a raise? Is a $30,000 wedding necessary? Should I create an IRA? Do we need a 3,500 square-foot home? Should I invest in real estate? Is spending $1,000 a month dining out a bit excessive? Should I increase my 401k contributions? Would it better to wait instead of placing the purchase on my credit card? [ Come and join in on the fun. Add your own "How will this affect my wealth position?" question. And, as you can see, I am not telling what you can and cannot have. I am merely encouraging you to find balance in your decision making: How can you live for today and comfortably secure how you will for tomorrow?] To make a long blog post short - LOL - thinking from a wealth position state of mind helps us process and create a clear financial vision that we can execute with our spending plan. Otherwise, a spending plan can become a rudderless ship that goes wherever the wind blows (i.e., emotional spending, influenced by clever marketing, and peer pressure). And, yes, you can rationalize placing several items in your spending that should not be there. It happens all the time. Given the gazillionth meme, IG post, or YouTube video I've seen on wealth creation, I'll leave you with this... ... We do not stumble aimlessly into wealth. Wealth creation is the result of making more financial choices that improve our wealth position than not. It might be time to adopt a wealth position state of mind. #ModomSolutions #Wealth #Money #Wisdom

Self-Compassion and Your Financial Wellness Journey

When you think about the word compassion, do you ever consider how compassionate you are to yourself? Have you ever contemplated how self-compassion might be a pre-requisite to wealth creation? If you haven't, I want you to answer the following questions: 1.) On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being not compassionate and 5 being very compassionate, how compassionate are you to you? 2.) On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being not compassionate and 5 being very compassionate, how compassionate are you to others? In other words, are you more likely to extend grace, forgiveness, kindness, a second and even third chance to others than you are to yourself? You are worthy of grace and compassion, too. Not just the grace and compassion extended to you by others, but rather, the grace and compassion you can offer to yourself. Did you know - yes, another question, LOL - that a person can have anywhere between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day? What's more, based on a 2005 National Science Foundation study, 85% of those thoughts are negative. These negative thoughts can lead to a fatalistic thought process about life and, for this post, money. Fatalism means that someone feels powerless to influence their future state of being. Far too many people suffer from fatalistic thinking because they are ashamed of something they've done in the past. Self-compassion is a potent remedy to financial self-shaming. Think about it. If you do not have positive thoughts about money or your ability to manage it, can you realistically expect to handle cash in a way that will help you achieve your life goals? To your current way of thinking, more money may equate to more financial mistakes. I completely get that. I would also like to add that you have a golden opportunity to let those learning opportunities refine you - not define you. Positive and forward-thinking thoughts about money can transform how you engage with this resource. In many instances, it can lead to more of it - without the shame, without the guilt. But you have to be willing to extend yourself some grace...Are you? I can write at length about all the financial mistakes I've made: Some were out of ignorance; Others were out of pride; Some were just foolish - like the "What in the hell were you thinking?" variety of ridiculous (I'll save those for a future post). But I learned that I am not bound to a past mistake despite the consequences of that misstep(s). And, quite honestly, it took me a long time to learn that lesson. It does not have to take you years to do the same. I am allowing you the space to laugh, cry, seek counsel, run, or pray off what you've done in the past. The light is at the end of the tunnel ahead - not the darkness associated with the what is behind us. You deserve self-compassion. And you'll deserve it again, and again, and again. Some of us learn the hard way - myself included :). My friend, your race towards financial well-being is not just about what we know about investments, risk management, budgets, and taxation. It's about the health of your heart and spirit as well. Whether you realize it or not, you have the key, but you have to turn it towards yourself. You are the door, too! With that being said, here is yet another question: On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being positively no and 5 being positively yes, do you want to experience your best life? My hope is that you answered that question with a 5. I want you to experience your best life, too! Now that we are the same page, would you consider taking one step to forgive yourself for a financial mistake you made yesterday and the grace to accept that your financial journey may not be smooth sailing ahead? But I promise that it will be worth it - every step, every moment, every tear, every outburst of joy, every frustration, and every victory along the way. So, here you go. Take all the time you need, right now, to extend yourself some grace. Self-compassion is the gateway to your financial success story. Stay blessed! #Money #Compassion #FinancialWellness #ModomSolutions #Wisdom

Trauma is Not Normal.

I never thought I would be there. It was 2016. I was sitting in a dimly lit room across from a therapist - again. Unlike my previous sessions, I felt it was time to unpack the pain, bitterness, and anger that had been building up inside. I was about to explode. 2015 was the worst year of my life. The father of my sister's three children murdered her. After listening to my story about my sister and other hardships I had faced, my therapist, with a very heavy heart yet assured demeanor, uttered four words that changed my life, "Trauma is not normal." I sat there for what seemed like forever, trying to process what she had said. And then it hit me. I was normalizing my deep sorrow as being a part of the Black experience: You deal with it. You suck it up and move the fuck on. Ther is no time to show weakness. At least, that's what I thought. My therapist went on to say that it was okay to feel and express emotion. Allowing ourselves to grieve was how the body healed itself. It is how we become strong. It was in that instance that I gave my self permission to ball uncontrollably. I will never forget that session. It gave me the courage to acknowledge my emotions, to authentically feel my emotions, and how not to accept certain harsh realities as the norm. If we accept our circumstances as the norm, we learn how to dance with them instead of vying for another dance partner altogether. Honestly, I don't want to do the Toosie slide with someone who can't dance. Do you? So, how does my story intersect with money? It starts with a question: What have you accepted as a standard relationship with money that is actually dysfunctional and rooted in financial trauma? Are you dancing with a mindset that will perpetuate your current situation or improve it? Believe it or not, there is an industry of financial professionals called financial therapists that can help you unpack, reorganize, and commit to achieving the life you desire. Sometimes the optimal financial strategy has nothing to do with more financial information. Sometimes it is rooted in intimately understanding our thoughts and emotional responses to the world around us - past, present, and future. If you, like I once did, struggle with processing your emotions, please consider seeking a therapist (https://therapyforblackmen.org/) or financial therapist (https://www.financialtherapyassociation.org/find-a-ft). Having the capacity to be emotionally vulnerable is the real stunt. Trauma is not normal.

Whose Playbook are You Using?

You are more financially literate than you know. I would argue that you have learned invaluable lessons about life, people, and money through life experience. These experiences have shaped the way you view and interact with the world around you. Those experiences have caused you, subconsciously, to create a financial playbook filled with thoughts, emotions, and outcomes that justify your unsuspecting reliance upon it. This financial playbook has helped you navigate the environment and systems you currently or once knew. But I have to ask, do you feel confident that your current playbook has enough of the right plays to be victorious in the life you are trying to create and sustain? Bill Belichick, arguably one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, changes his playbook and personnel every week. He does not allow past accomplishments to lull him into believing that yesterday is the best indicator of future successes. The New England Patriot's secret sauce over the past decade is that they are willing to reassess their playbook for the immediate challenge: Don't hate the player, or the coach in this instance, hate the game. When is the last time you assessed your financial playbook? Where did it come from? Why did you commit to it? Is the playbook that once helped you thrive now have you holding on by a thread trying to survive? If the latter question resonates with you, there is nothing wrong with your old playbook. You need to update it so that you can thrive in the future opportunities you hope for and the new challenges you will face while on the way. Financial awareness is one of the first steps to financial well-being. We all have blind spots; however, we will never know they exist if we do not study our playbook and ask the following question: Does what I currently know align with where I am trying to go?

Legacy?

I talked to a random guy at the park the other day about financial literacy, taxes, and wealth creation. Although we had some differences of opinion on how to achieve specific goals, we both agreed that we wanted to leave a legacy. That conversation got me thinking. Did we REALLY agree on the legacy part? Was his definition the same as mine? Better yet, did we know what it meant to leave a legacy? The word "Legacy," in its purest form, means to leave money or property to an heir or heirs. Which leads me to two big questions: 1.) If we are to leave a legacy to an heir or heirs, how much money and property did we want to bequest (Scrabble word alert - LOL) to a loved one? 2.) Once we've established clear goals from question one, did we have adequate life insurance coverage and a will to ensure our vision could be executed even after an untimely death? To be fair, I am still trying to get a handle on what is feasible and what is enough. I have a number in mind. And I revisit it often. But it bothers me that I never dig beneath the surface when I have a conversation with the fellas about leaving a legacy - especially as it relates to life insurance and wills (Important thought: Do you have life insurance and a will?). It always ends the same say. Someone says, "I just want to leave a legacy." And I say, 'I feel you! I want to leave a legacy, too!' We dap each other up and start talking about something else. That's it. So, I figured I should have a conversation with you. I hope you don't mind? While doing my research, I also came to realize that leaving a legacy is relational. We can pass along our social capital or cache to our heirs as well. The downside is that our heirs can inherit negative social capital just as much as positive. Character matters. Which got me to thinking again: 1.) How are we being intentional about establishing relationships based on mutual benefit and trust? 2.) And how are we connecting our children to these relationships and opportunities for access and upward economic mobility? Again, another missed opportunity. I keep kicking myself for not taking our discussion further. That gentleman and I could have had a more productive conversation about leaving a legacy. But I digress. All this thinking did lead to one positive outcome. Well, two. I am writing this post, aren't I? Our legacy is not something we leave. It's something we live. As such, I nor you have to wait to leave a legacy. We are building that legacy every day - one person, one opportunity at a time. From now on, instead of having a big picture conversation with the guys about wanting to leave a legacy. Ask slightly different questions. How are you saving money, acquiring property, and establishing positive social capital? How are you protecting your assets through life insurance and a will? How are you living your legacy? #ModomSolutions #Legacy #Money

69...

Sixty-nine is the unenviable position in which many Black men have found themselves entrapped. This is the average life expectancy of a Black male in some areas of the U.S. More generally, Black men, on average, live to be 72 years of age. Again, this is an average. If the current trends persist, the vast majority of us will live to be between 67 and 77 years of age. Our higher bound of 77 is the average life expectancy for our White male counterparts. Why does this matter? It matters because life expectancy is the backbone of a wealth creation strategy. A financial planner needs to know your work-life expectancy (WLE). Work-life expectancy helps a financial adviser estimate how many years you have to save towards retirement. Once your advisor has established your WLE, an advisor needs to know your retirement life expectancy (RLE). In short, how many years you expect to live after retiring. Knowing these numbers helps your advisor calculate your retirement need. The life expectancy number matters because it suggests that Black men, in general, even if we were fortunate enough to amass wealth, will not have the longevity to enjoy any of it in retirement. We must recognize that everyone is not living to the ripe old age of 100. Doing so may set unrealistic expectations about our life expectancy and leading us to believe that we have more time to create and enjoy wealth than we do. In fact, a lot of financial advice floating around the web encourages people to delay retirement for as long as possible. Other sources advocate that you do not touch your social security until the age of 70. Based on what we currently know about Black men, these strategies are sub-optimal unless we can improve our health and expand our life spans. Literally, without good health, there is no wealth (#NoHealthNoWealth) So, what do we do about it? Well, the most obvious thing we can do is to prioritize eating better. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Black men and for the general population. This information isn't new. We all know that we need to eat better. I believe we do not act on this inclination because we do not see health's financial benefit. Being in good health lowers health insurance premiums, garners cheaper life insurance rates, helps us think more clearly, increases our desire to be physically active, improves our sense of life satisfaction, and boosts our productivity. All of which are associated with cash flow creation and the longevity necessary to create and enjoy wealth. Health is wealth. The two are connected. Meaningful connections matter too! According to Susan Pinker, a longevity researcher, the top two causes of a long life are positive social interaction and close meaningful relationships. Fellas, we need to connect and stay connected. When is that last time you went on a guys trip, shot hoops with the boys, or confided in a trusted friend? We do not talk about this, but there is evidence to suggest that relationships matter. Men tend to become more socially isolated as they get older. We need to do the opposite. As the old African proverb says, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." If you are reading this, I am not asking that you make monumental changes at the drop of a dime. It takes a lot of time and energy to create new habits. I do believe you might be up for doing one small thing. So, what is one little thing you can do to positively impact your diet, physical health, or social connections this week? Your ability to secure the bag is dependent on your personal and relational health!

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