Big picture time!


Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, announced a new plan to shore up a severely stressed FDIC. Given 120 bank failures in the past, the FDIC seeks a new way to maintain a solvent system by revising past policies to cover future needs. According to Bair, this new plan is designed to feature ways to secure long term solvency without direct taxpayer support. (Nice change – for sure!)

How financially secure do you feel right now? Feeling more secure on all fronts concerning personal worth is my goal as your national worth examiner. True, the words personal worth seem to automatically inspire visions of vaults stacked with cash, plush paychecks or savvy stock investments set to sock away a secure financial future. As we’ve explored in past posts, MONEY is ONE of many words to consider when reviewing and assessing one’s personal worth.

Bair’s announcement offers the perfect time for us to consider the fluid nature of cash. Along with the FDIC, who hasn’t experienced a roller coaster ride when it comes to personal finances. As with any fluid system, we experience cycles. The cycle of seasons often influence how we spend cash. For many (not all) the December holiday season clearly clang the bells for charity inspiring us to recall human traits of gratitude, generosity and respect for those who currently face difficult times.

What financial cycles are you aware of in your life? How do you spend or save money as calendar pages fly by with a wink of an eye? Do you notice boom or bust periods around your holidays, special events (birthday’s, anniversaries, club or group events, etc.) or regularly scheduled expenses (insurances, vacations, taxes, etc.) Do you have a budget (for some, I know, I know, that’s a nasty word – sorry!) to support these cycles? Or do you just wing it, hoping it’ll all work out?

For both brilliant budgeter’s and seasonal spend-thrifts alike, here’s a play-date with money for you. Try this simple, powerful exercise to get a more personal picture of cash flows outside those brilliant financial analyzing computer programs. If you dare, repeat this exercise for as many years as you have patience for. Why? To discover long-term financial trends is part and parcel of any worthy investment professional. The more you’re aware of your financial cycles, the more comfort you’ll have in stormy times.

Materials list:

  • 12 feet (or more) of blank drawing / writing paper / space. (The back sides of old wrapping paper you can’t stand any more works just fine. Or, cut-up all those paper grocery bags if you need too!)
  • A box of traditional wax crayons. (Yes Martha! We’re allowing our child to come out and play! Besides, crayon’s don’t bleed through most papers.)
  • A list of regular expenses and income payments.
  • A desire to discover some powerful insights about your cash cycles.

Step One: roll out / create at least 12 feet of blank paper.

  • Draw a line down the middle of the entire length of paper. Section off the paper into months (beginning with what ever month you want).
  • Section off each month to represent the 1st – 15th and the 16th to the end of each month. Example:

Step Two: draw a color-coded key at the bottom of the chart (below the middle line) to represent specific cash expenses, example:

  • red = mortgage payments
  • orange = insurance payments
  • brown = vacation funds
  • pink = gifts for holidays, special events, etc.

Step Three: draw a color-coded key at the top of the chart (above the middle line) to represent specific cash income sources , example:

  • green = savings interest payments, dividends, bonuses, equity payments, etc.
  • blue = paychecks, cash gifts, trust funds, etc.
  • violet = customer reward programs (cash back programs, etc.)

Be creative with your key coding to suit your particular needs.

Step Four: following your color codes, start coloring in your expenses and income as they happen each month. Color in your income on the top (above the middle line). Color in your expenses on the bottom (below the middle line). For all those perfectionists out there (and I know there’s only two or three left in the world – so, this might note apply to you) there’s no need to be microscopic about all this. A simple colored circle in the right spot will do. You can vary the size of each symbol to the size of the dollar amount. Be sure to capture as much has you can to gain a more insightful perspective on your cash flow.

Final step: observe.

  • Where do more symbols show up over time?
  • Is the first half of the month more busy than the second half?
  • Do you see any upcoming storms (example: holidays + insurance + weddings + birthdays – NO anticipated bonuses, etc.).
  • Would this drawing look the same as last years? Next Years?

As you become more aware of when funds may be more abundant or sparse – you’ll be surprised how creative you can be with what you already have – right now.

Goal: see a LARGE representation of how your funds ebb and flow through the year. Sure, you could chart this all out on a simple sheet of paper. That’s boring! GET BIG! SEE things better with a BIGGER picture. With this bigger picture in mind, you may follow the FDIC’s lead to create more unique ways to plan for a secure cash flow.

True, the best laid plans may not foresee circumstances well beyond our control. With this notion in mind, you’re invited to expand your sense of security by broadening your worth perspective well beyond financial fronts. Chapter four of Pay Me What I’m Worth invites you to really dive into this cycle concept in greater detail.

You look at your ENTIRE life from six separate perspectives – to include cash flows. Complete this workbook and you’ll enjoy a personal Worth Timeline® well worth the price tag! With your completed Worth Timeline®you’ll discover how the best times in your life may have cycled into less than happy times. How? Once again, by creating and observing YOUR big life picture (from many perspectives), you’ll uncover the power of cycles in many ways.

Should you find a cycle (habit) you need help retiring or evolving into a more healthy habit – click to join our classes.

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