Through many shared meals and motorcycle rides, Carl Richards and I have discovered that we see the world in a pretty similar way. Carl talks to people about improving the quality of their lives by having a solid financial plan, and I talk about building a simple, sustainable plan for healthy, happy living. One of the 9 Factors that I speak about is Stress Management, so having a simple plan to alleviate some financial stress is a part of living a healthy, balanced life. Carl’s method appeals to me. It’s simple and flexible, and it really resonates with my less-is-more viewpoint. His new book, The One-Page Financial Plan, has already helped me make better choices without feeling overwhelmed, and my brain likes a simple plan. – Dallas
A mutual friend introduced me to Dallas Hartwig. Over lunch one day, we were chatting about our different passions. No surprise, Dallas talked a lot about food. I talked a lot about money. In fact, I joked I could have written the book It Starts With Money.
But what was a surprise to both of us was how similar our views were about life. We both want to help people figure out the path to living a bigger and better life. It turns out that there’s some overlap between our two passions. The benefits of making smarter eating decisions mirror the benefits of making smarter money decisions. It starts with the process of creating a financial plan.
A plan reduces stress
I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn “that money is the top source of stress for American adults.” Also not surprising, people tend to deal with this stress by avoiding money decisions, but that only compounds the problem. Your life doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, grab a blank piece of paper and a Sharpie. Write down the 3-4 things that are most important to you. Guess what? You now have a one-page financial plan that takes the stress out of money decisions. Using this plan as a guide, you can weigh where you’re at today versus where you want to go and make some educated guesses about how to get there.
A plan saves time
With a plan at your fingertips, you can start implementing simple changes that make a big difference. Maybe one of the most important things to you is paying off debt. Now that you know it’s a priority, automate that payment. You move closer to your goal and let go of thinking about it. You also avoid wasting time (and money) on things that don’t get you any closer to your goals.
A plan empowers you
One of my favorite quotes comes from Stephen Covey:
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”
You’ve probably experienced this firsthand when it comes to food. For many of us, our bigger “yes” is to feel better, both physically and mentally. But we can’t get there if we don’t learn to say “no” to things like greasy fast food.
The same holds true with money. Having a plan gives us the confidence to say “no” because we’re working towards something bigger. It’s amazing to me how fast saying “no” goes from feeling like a sacrifice to a pleasure. For instance, with every “no,” you can move that much closer to taking a dream vacation.
Create your financial plan
A piece of paper, a Sharpie, and a little time can reduce your stress, save you time, and empower you to make smarter money decisions. If you want to know what comes next, I suggest you take a look at my new book, The One-Page Financial Plan. That one-page plan you’re holding has the power to change your financial life forever.
Carl Richards is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and a columnist for the New York Times and Morningstar magazine. He is also a contributor to Yahoo Finance. Carl’s latest book, The One-Page Financial Plan, uses his signature sketches to help people create financial plans that fit their goals. It’s a practical how-to based on the principles in his first book, The Behavior Gap. Richards is the Director of Investor Education for the BAM ALLIANCE. You can find his work at behaviorgap.com.
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