According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australians spent more than $17 billion on credit cards in March 2009. The total credit and charge card balances outstanding for that month was just over $44 billion.
Our combined national debt was $3.4 trillion as of September 2008 – and it’s growing.
This means that every Australian, including each baby, has more than $100,000 of debt.
With the economy struggling, banks fl ailing and governments stretched to help everyone, now more than ever it is up to us to create our own financially secure future.
Success in the financial arena relies on our ability to realise that money in itself is just an idea.
We don’t have to look at a 50-dollar note for too long to realise it’s just printed plastic with an intrinsic value of a few cents.
The value of a currency is the result of an agreement between us all – we use it as a medium of exchange for goods and services.
If that agreement fails, the currency collapses because it reverts to its intrinsic value – printed paper or plastic.
When this happens the population almost automatically switches to using a medium of exchange that has more stability.
When the Zimbabwean currency collapsed the government started printing 100-billion-dollar notes (which would only purchase a few groceries), but by the time they were in circulation people had started using gold and US dollars.
What does this mean for us?
The bottom line is that if we are to succeed financially, money can never be more than an idea.
The idea of money is fantastic in theory,but it does have a few practical downsides we need to be aware of if we are to master it.
And let’s face it – money is either a master or a slave.
Our culture teaches us that if we work hard and be honest, we will be rich and happy.
This is the formula we are taught for success.
It has been perpetuated by a generation who followed it and became rich – simply because they waited long enough.
The average working couple in the 1950s bought a block of land on the outskirts of a city and built a house on it themselves.
Fifty years later, they sold it for several million dollars and got rich.
This is not self-created wealth – they stood by and watched while the land price escalated as a result of the greatest economic boom in history.
If they tried this in the late 1910-1930s they would have seen their hard work transform into massive debt – one from which they would have been lucky to recover.
We must consistently come up with new and current ways to use money in creating wealth.
What worked in the past rarely works in the present because the economy is constantly changing.
The new understanding we need to adopt about money (harsh as it may sound) is that hard work and honesty simply won’t be enough.
The unfortunate truth is that we don’t have to look far to find hard working, honest people who are broke.
They are a dime a dozen.
This creates one of our culture’s biggest problems – we assume the wealthy must not be hard working or honest.
In fact they are often accused of being lazy and taking advantage of the less fortunate. Of course, this is rarely the truth.
Invariably,wealthy people have come to understand the following, either because they learnt the hard way or they were lucky enough to have someone teach them.
1. To be wealthy we will have to serve others.
2. We need to fi nd a way to make other people’s lives better or easier – even if it is as simple as making fence posts so farmers can build fences.
3. If we fail to create value that others are willing to pay for, we will end up working for someone who is successfully creating value.
4. If we create enough value, our buyer is likely to think they got it cheap from us, and will therefore tell their friends.
5. Value is personal – a Porsche is only valuable to those who want one.
6. Wealth creation can be a spiritual journey full of growth.
7. Hard working, honest and broke is not noble – it is nothing more than an attempt to legitimise taking the easy way out.
Before we can achieve financial success, we need to understand the functions of money.
First, we must know that money serves as a medium of exchange. We have covered this already.
Second, money is a great way to store wealth. We can simply heap it into a pile– although these days it’s far more common to put it into a bank account.
Third, in a capitalist system money can be used to make more money.
All we have to do is place it somewhere and watch it grow by itself.
This is quite odd if we consider the natural laws of the universe.
In days gone by farmers would plant corn, water it, fertilise it and nurture it until it was time to harvest.
In this way the crop would grow as a result of the farmer’s efforts.
However, the capitalist system does not require us to work – we simply have to place the money in the bank and watch it grow. Therefore, in order for capitalism to be sustainable, we have to be comfortable with debt.
When we place money in a bank account, the bank earns extra money by lending our principal sum to someone else and charging them interest.
A portion of this is then given back to us as a reward for investing the original sum.
If we are not comfortable with debt, then our money never earns any interest because the whole system falls apart.
The result is that anyone who wants to create wealth must invest, which works as long as the wealth we create outweighs the debt.
Fourth – money is a symbol of reality. We can insulate ourselves from the dangers of life as long as we have enough money.
Health and life insurance,investments, trust funds, real estate holdings, ounces of gold, shares, stocks and bonds can all make us feel as though we have worth.
When we are unsure about our worth as a person, money becomes the answer.
The result of this is often emptiness. If our worth is equal to our wealth, we have big problems.
We end up rolling our eyes as we tell the clichéd story about the man who built himself a fortune and found himself feeling empty and lonely without someone to share it with.
We need to develop a sense of self-worth independent of our bank balance.
Success in the financial world will not occur until we truly understand that we are the same person with or without the money.
Therefore, we must pursue wealth and passion separately.
In times gone by, we worked (when we had a choice) in the fi eld we found most rewarding.
Many tribes sent their pubescent boys on a quest as part of attaining adulthood.
During their time alone they would decide which type of work they would undertake for the rest of their adult lives.
The choices were far more limited than they are now, but the decision itself was far purer.
The choice was made based on what each individual thought would give him the best chance of discovering his inner self.
The work or profession was merely what one did while undertaking a life-long journey within.
This would almost universally lead to self-acceptance, self-love and happiness.
Therefore, the type of work we undertook was irrelevant – it was all considered to be vital to the survival of the group.
Hunters shared the food they caught and the medicine man or woman did their best to keep everyone in the tribe healthy.
Work itself had little value beyond what must be done to ensure the group’s survival.
When the industrial revolution occurred, peasants in the feudal system were encouraged to leave the fields and work in factories.
They moved from the country into the city, and money began to change hands quickly.
Labour was no longer paid in food or shelter, but in cold hard cash. On the surface, this was great – people were earning more money than ever before.
The problem is that now most of us are working for money, rather than pursuing self-awareness.
The journey within that once produced true, lasting happiness is a relic of the past. Below the surface discontent festers.
What happens when we are forced to invest our blood, sweat and tears in working for printed paper?
Discontent. Restlessness. Lack of joy and self-awareness. Less opportunity for gaining wisdom.
For most people, this is absolutely soul-destroying.
When we cannot fulfil our soul’s needs through our daily pursuits, we buy pain relief with our hard-earned money, leaving nothing to invest.
This ultimately prevents us from creating wealth.So how do we create a wealthy future?
It’s simple really. Money is no more than an idea,and as such responds beautifully to a change in mindset.
The biggest issue we have with money is our relationship with it; most people have an emotional relationship with money when they need to have an intellectual relationship with money.
There are several steps we must complete in order to succeed in the financial arena.
First, we must find a rewarding job.
Second, we must examine our emotional relationship with money. Next, we must work towards eradicating the links between our wealth and our worth.
Finally, we must replace the old financial programming with new patterns based on our personal preference.
We can complete these steps cheaply and easily early on, or spend a great deal of time and money later.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
Find a rewarding job No matter what your current financial position is, commit yourself now to finding work that is uplifting.
When you work because you love it, you won’t find yourself watching the clock or wishing you were somewhere else.
You can also quickly become an expert in your field simply because you are passionate about what you do – and experts get paid very well.
Examine your relationship with money.
Ask yourself the following questions and spend some time exploring the answers.
Write your conclusions down.
What was my father’s attitude to money?
What was my mother’s attitude to money?
What was I taught at school about money?
What conclusions have I drawn about money as a result of the above?
What does my God feel about me creating huge wealth?
What would my friends’ reaction be to me becoming wildly wealthy?
What do I feel deep down about becoming truly wealthy?
What will I use my newfound wealth for?
Why do I want to be wealthy?
What does money mean to me?
How will I be different when I am wealthy?
What will I do all day and why would I do that?
What is my financial vocabulary like?
This last question may seem odd, but your language determines which concepts are available to you.
If you don’t understand the terms of the stock market or the language of real estate how can you make educated investments?
Increasing your financial vocabulary will expand your thinking and therefore open you up to new possibilities and money-making opportunities. You can increase your financial vocabulary by reading financial magazines, newspapers and annual reports.
Eradicate the link between wealth and worth:
1. Take a clean sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of the page.
2. On the left side write a fi nancial goal that is important to you, for example,“The return from my investments per month is higher than my living expenses.”
3. Change the hand you are writing with (so you are now using your non dominant hand) and write your truthful emotional response to the goal on the right side, for example, “That’s not going to happen.”
4. Repeat this process writing the same goal exactly as before and noting your response on the other side of the page.
Keep changing hands until your response to the goal begins to repeat. This may take several pages.
What did you notice during this exercise?
In our experience, clients who complete this exercise begin to unravel the original emotional knot.
Generally, the response progresses from total self doubt to something far more positive.
The next step is to ask yourself what you will need to do to achieve your goal.
Break the tasks down into manageable chunks and get on with it.
When we take action based on a goal we have set, we will find the next emotional barrier to success.
We need to overcome a series of personal hurdles to get where we want to be.
The exercise (on the piece of paper) is merely a tool that helps us to understand what is holding us back and then assists us in formulating an action plan.
Once we start taking action we will invariably be faced with more barriers to success.
This is why we comment that wealth creation can be a spiritual pursuit– it is the fastest path to self-exploration, development and awareness, and therefore self-respect and love.
Wealth creation in itself is pointless without the spiritual journey.
Replace old programming with new patterns
The environment we spend the majority of our time in will help create our financial patterns. In our experience, our net worth is roughly the average of the five people we are closest to.
Without ditching your friends, draw wealthy people into your life. Spend as much time as you can with people who are creating wealth.
What’s inside us is just as important as what is around us. More often that not,our self-talk (the voice in our heads) is negative.
This has to change if we want to create wealth. Take the time to correct your language when you speak or think in terms of lack or negativity.
As you change the way you think and speak, change your actions as well.
Do what the wealthy do – seek to understand your thinking, actions and ideas.
Within your means, act wealthily.
Accept that the only 100 per cent reliable way to get ahead fi nancially is to save at least 10 per cent of your income, wait until it builds up and then invest it wisely – even if that only means placing it in a high interest bank account.
We recommend that you save as much of your income as you can and always seek expert advice before investing in anything.