Do you think you have more to learn about how best to manage your finances? Do you think you have something to learn from Dr. Seuss?
Few Americans would say that understanding how their finances work is as easy or fun as reading a Dr. Seuss story. But if we don’t know how our dollars work, we cannot make them work better – or, as the hatted Cat might say, “It’s fun to have money, but you have to know how.”
We have thus enlisted the creative genius of Dr. Seuss – along with a bit of literary license – to help explain a few of the most essential concepts of personal finance. These concepts build upon each other, like Yertle’s trusty turtles, to allow us to see the opportunities and possibilities for creating financial security for ourselves and our families.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Balance is a fundamental concept of personal finance. Managing money requires balancing wants with needs, income with expenses, what you own and what you owe, return with risk. A common mistake that people make with their money is failing to understand this balance. They think their paychecks are entirely for spending today as opposed to saving some for tomorrow. Similarly, they may choose investments based solely on the promise of a given interest rate, dividend, or possibility of gain without considering the amount of risk they are taking with that investment. Or they may focus only on the risk of loss with an investment, not appreciating that some risk is necessary to growing their wealth.
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
Building on the principal of financial balance is the notion of “opportunity cost.” Whenever we make a financial decision expecting some gain, there is always a “cost” for this decision. Sometimes the cost is obvious, like when we owe a fee or tax. But there’s also opportunity cost – for example, if we splurge on a vacation this year, we cannot also send the kids to camp. Opportunity cost can also be understood as other possible uses for our money: I might have earned 5 percent in Fund A, but could I have earned even more in Fund B? While those possibilities are limitless, it is nevertheless smart to think about before making any big decision. What are the implications of “staying out” or “going in” — be it in the stock market, the job market, or your employer’s 401(k)? What do you gain, and what do you stand to lose?
How did it get late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time is flewn
How did it get late so soon?
Financial literacy is about more than money. Just as fundamentally, it’s about time. Too many Americans are facing the November and December of their lives – their retirement years – and wishing they had done more preparation and planning while they were still enjoying June. Preparing a budget, getting the right insurance coverage, and having a plan for funding and meeting future financial goals is the way to move deliberately and confidently into tomorrow, rather than arriving not quite knowing where and how you got there.
And it should be, it should be,
It should be like that!
Because Horton was faithful!
He sat and he sat!
He meant what he said
And he said what he meant
An elephant’s faithful
One hundred percent!
Knowing how to find a trustworthy professional to help with personal finance is another important indicator of financial literacy. This isn’t necessarily easy, given the proliferation of credentials and designations used by the 300,000+ financial advisors in the United States. Most important of all these credentials is the knowledge of a given financial advisor’s obligation to his or her client. Does the advisor, like Horton, take on a “duty of care” for the client? Are they open and honest in what they say to clients or prospects, fully explaining the basis of their advice and disclosing any potential conflicts they might have?
Becoming financially literate is not always fun or easy. But it is definitely empowering. Taking a first step, like signing up for a personal finance class or visiting www.letsmakeaplan.org to learn more about financial planning can be the start of an amazing journey to financial security. In the words of Dr. Seuss:
The more that you read,
The more things that you know
The more that you learn
Oh the places you’ll go!