Nobody wants to dwell on their mortality, but those you love are going to need to support each other if they have lost you.
“Show me your money and I’ll show you who you are.”
Working with people and their finances is a fascinating part of my work. I have learned so much about not only what men do with money, but how they think and feel about their finances.
With a few exceptions, the men I have worked with are amazing people who want to do the best for those they love, as well as for themselves. No matter how good the intention, many still make avoidable financial decisions that create problems in their private and business life. Here are some common ones that keep cropping up.
1. They Allow Making Money to Override Other Parts of Their Life
I confess, I do not believe in work/life balance. Nevertheless, if other aspects of your life are constantly neglected in favour of making money, it is a sure bet that you will burn out.
Take a look at your health, your relationships, your leisure time and social life. How much attention are they getting? The balance between them all will never be equal, and that’s fine. I see too many men go from “having it all” to losing what is important to them.
2. They Don’t Take Financial Advice before Making Important Decisions
One of the biggest decisions a man can make is to quit his job to build a life as an entrepreneur. It is staggering how many do it with insufficient cash to carry them through the times when income is coming slower than they had planned. One of the uncanny coincidences of running a business is how much quicker money can go out than come in.
Another decision is to start investing in stocks and shares without understanding the nuts and bolts. An Interest in property investing remains as popular as ever; despite the housing crisis. And those are just three examples.
These pursuits cannot just mess up your finances, they can wipe you out. People who have success in these areas do not have it by chance, or because they bought the latest course on the subject. They have knowledge, skills and experience that can save you many wasted hours and money. A savvy man knows when he needs advice and sees no shame in taking it.
3. They Use Money to Buy Respect and Impress Others
Even though they may deny it; I can picture right now some men, just in my personal world, that view how much money they make as an indication of their status as a man.
Ironically my observation is that this is rarely an indication of arrogance or self-importance; but a sign of insecurity.
Please don’t criticise yourself for liking the nicer things in life. You work hard, and you deserve to be rewarded and enjoy your life. Otherwise, what is it all for? And if the feeling you get when people compliment you on your success makes you feel all warm inside. Good for you.
On the other hand, a desire for recognition can get out of proportion. A man’s identity can become wrapped up in status symbols, rather than who he is as a human being. The flashy car, the designer gear, the big house. When you buy things–and a big part of your decision is based on what other people are going to think of you–maybe, just maybe, something else is going on inside you that you are not dealing with.
4. They Use Money to Buy Love
There is no doubt that the successful looking man will always have an appeal to women that the man who has to borrow from his friends. The days you give your son the latest gadget he has been asking for, or you follow your daughter around the shopping mall for hours while she shops till she drops. You give your partner your credit card with an “Enjoy yourself” kiss. Those days, you know you will be loved and appreciated just that little bit more. Note I said, “little bit”. A man, which uses money to buy respect and status, frequently has this trait also.
I dated a man who would deal with every situation by asking “How much do you need?” I cannot begin to tell you how insulting and dismissive I found that sentence. And it was not just because I was financially independent. It was because I wanted him to just be interested. Sadly, it turned out that his responses were not because he did not care, but he did not know how to care if he didn’t use money. The last I heard he was single, again.
5. They Have a Young Family but No Will or Life Insurance
You love your wife, your partner, and your children. Each day you get up so you can do your part to make the best life you can for them. But what if you couldn’t be there anymore?
I watched a commercial recently that showed a little boy in class who seemed to be daydreaming. In the dream, his father was apologising for not being able to take him to football practice later. He ended with “Take care of your mother” and faded away. As the little boy calls to his dad to come back, the principal comes into the class and asks the boy to step outside. The camera cuts to his mother who is at the school. You can guess the rest.
It is a raw subject for me because my father died suddenly, without making a will. If he could have foreseen the destruction that oversight had on his family; he would have been heartbroken. We lost our home, and it was the start of some tough years for my mother. If your children are young, tomorrow is not soon enough. I was six, my sister was four, yet I remember everything.
While you are sorting out your will, take a look at your life cover. It may be better to do this with the guidance of a financial planner. Experience has shown me that just finding an advisor can often be a way to procrastinate; so try the internet as a starting point.
If, like so many men today, you have been divorced, you may even have a new or family. It is frightening to envisage the mess you could leave behind if you are not on top of this. Not just financially, but so many families have been torn apart fighting over who is entitled to what. Nobody wants to dwell on their mortality, but those you love are going to need to support each other if they have lost you. If everything is clear cut, they can be free to do that.
Managing finances can be a pain, but the alternative is painful.