Someone is cheating you out of your money.
Embezzling your funds every year, often times monthly and sometimes daily.
He or she takes credit out in your name and runs up the balance. He drains your bank accounts. In a pinch, he will sometimes even raid your home equity and your 401k. This thief will pilfer you out of everything you have, and if you don’t do something fast, you’ll go broke.
You’re probably wondering when the infomercial for LifeLock will start.
I’m not talking about LifeLock.
I’m talking about you.
You are far more likely to ruin your own financial plan than an identity thief is.
More than anyone else on the planet who might lie to us or steal from us, we are the most likely to do this to ourselves. Face it. You do it all the time. You do it about food. You do it about sleep. You do it about almost everything in your life, if you’re normal.
And when it comes to finances we can be extremely crafty.
A while back I met with a couple who was telling me that they just eliminated another credit card. They had closed the account and worked hard over the past year making extra payments. Finally, as they were sitting in front of me, they reported that they just put the final check in the mail to close it out. Feeling proud, they began to tell me that they still don’t feel as though they are getting anywhere and were coming for advice about a home equity loan.
So I looked over their paperwork, both current and from a year ago, and I noticed two small but new accounts. While they had been “working hard” at eliminating one account, they each were using other separate accounts, and slowly those balances were rising. Together, these two new accounts were higher than the one had been a year earlier.
Since they had separated the accounts (and because these things happen slowly), they never stopped to figure out what was happening. They lied to themselves (and believed the lie) every time they used those cards. Had they been honest, they would have acknowledged that they had traded in one bad habit for another.
The average American Household has over $7000 in credit-card debt. Payment on this debt is nearly $200. Do you know what $200 per month invested in a retirement account would be worth over 40 years?
There is one quick and simple check that will help to keep you from lying to yourself. It takes about 15 minutes to do once you have it set up.
Doing this one thing will help you more than any financial plan. More than any great advice or hot stock tip ever could.
Once each quarter, four times per year, fill out a net-worth sheet and get honest about where you are financially compared to the last quarter and the last year.
Just knowing where you stand can be wonderful motivation for moving on to some place new.