Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Musings on news I've heard lately...

First, I heard on the business news today that Delta Airlines announced a loss of $6 billion for the first-quarter. Then, I heard in the same report that Northwest Airlines announced a loss of $4 billion for the same period. Wow, two airlines looking at merging having a combined first-quarter loss of $10 billion! Just makes me wonder about their desire to merge into one airline, which, in my simple mind would only benefit the two companies and a handful of employees. But would not necessarily benefit airline passengers or the rank and file Delta and NWA employees. Hard not to scratch your head about that one.

Second, I had to laugh as Deutsche Bank in Germany announced a ground-breaking HR policy change. They advised company executives they could no longer use company credit cards at brothels or strip clubs, even if it were to entertain clients. Now there's some prudent belt-tightening going on!!

Finally, as many people in the US (& the world) struggle financially and food shortages create problems, it's sobering to think that much of today's financial challenges have been created as much by individual choices as external events and circumstances. Many of us may be making difficult lifestyle choices now when we could have made prudent, sensible decisions in the past that would have kept our financial heads above water during this difficult time. Guess I'm just a bit discouraged today and having a 'glass-half-empty' kind of day.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What's your potential?

"Our potential is not limited to what we can own or how much we make. "
- Ross Levin, author The Wealth Managment Index

I always love it when I see articles on core issues related to generosity that show up in everyday news media. Ross Levin is a CFP who writes a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A couple weeks ago his column was titled, "Sometimes, as you acquire, you lose". While his advice is focussed on financial planning, the main theme of his article was to invest wisely (which applies to whatever you're blessed with) and to think about your goals.

He told a story of several years ago, giving his two younger daughters $5 for allowance. He says, "Within minutes of receiving the money, they spotted a homeless person sleeping on the street. They were determined to give the most money that they'd ever held in their hands (maybe $5) to this somnolent vagrant who could not say thank you. We resisted any impulses to dissuade them. "

Levin goes to say that today, seven years later, they still remember giving the money to the homeless person and the joy they received from their selfless act. The article goes into further detail of asking us what's important to us and how that affects or happiness.

So what's important to you as you strive to be your best? Is it having, acquring and keeping up with the Joneses? And do you have any margins in your life just to be, to give and to be selfless...which oftentimes brings the most happiness and fulfillment in our lives? As Rick Warren says in his book, Purpose Driven Life: "It's not about you."

Take time to find your purpose. Which, by the way, usually starts with God...and involves being 'other-focussed' and not 'self-focussed'. Find your purpose and make this world a better place. And yes, that may mean giving some or most of yourself away!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Live beneath your means

"Well, what you're supposed to do is the thing we talk about all the time, which is live beneath your means."

That's a quote from Allan Sloan, senior editor-at-large for Fortune magazine, in an interview on Marketplace on NPR this past Monday. He was talking about all the changes that US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is proposing in overhauling the regulatory structure of the Federal Reserve. All in reaction to the country's recent economic woes, brought on primarily by the subprime mortgage debacle. Sloan refers to it as the "New Great Depression" - whoa, that'll get your attention pretty fast! He also says, "There are certain eerie similarities between what's happening now and what happened in 1929."

It's interesting, if you talk with people who are old enought to remember the Great Depression. In general, they're mainly pretty good about organizing & using their finances & stuff in a responsible way. All shaped by their memories of what actually happened.

Wouldn't it be cool if we all tried to live beneath our means & be content with what we have? Besides, none of this stuff is ours anyways. And, all our financial decisions are really spiritual decisions anyway. Plus, as we live beneath our means and share first (10%), then save (10%) & then spend the remainder (80%), that usually puts us in a financial situation where we have no consumer debt & have considerably less anxiety about money than most people in this country.

Go ahead, I dare you. Try spending less than you make on a regular basis. It can feel pretty weird at first but pays off in the long-term. Trust me, it does work!