The wonderful thing about social media is the ability to connect with some great, talented people. Today I turn the blog over to someone who fits that description, Gary Williams. I respect Gary as a certified financial planner and now, author of a best-selling book. Enjoy his views and some really great advice. I do similar work and agree with his perspective. I think you will too.
“The” Secret of Financial Independence
By Gary S. Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®
When Mark suggested that I create a blog for his website and he do the same for my site, I thought this would be a great idea. While I have never met Mark personally, he is married to a friend of mine from high school. Recently, I became friends with him on Facebook and have enjoyed his blog posts along the way. A few weeks ago, I released a book of my own, The Art of Retirement (with Foreword by Ronnie Lott) to help raise money for charity (100% of profits will be donated to charity) and educate readers about how to plan and invest for retirement while inspiring to live a fulfilling life. Using art and the story of Michelangelo’s life as a metaphor, I compare the reader’s life to a masterpiece. So, while writing is something that comes naturally to me, by day, and by occupation, I am the President of Williams Asset Management where I work as a wealth manager.
Initially, I took Mark’s words of “guest blogging” to mean I could write something about my book or about financial planning. Easy enough! But yesterday, he suggested that he would write about retirement planning and I should write about self-improvement! I know he is a financial advisor too, so somehow, I think he has the easier job. I thought for a moment about what that meant and wondered “what do I know about ‘self-improvement’”? Sure, I have read books by Stephen Covey, Anthony Robbins and others but by no means am I an expert in self-improvement topics. Would I write something about working out and eating healthy, two things I believe everyone should do? Perhaps I would write about something motivational and inspiring? Or perhaps, I could do my Tony Robbins impersonation and suggest you walk on hot coals to boost your self-esteem?!
My decision on the topic of this blog came while giving a seminar last week. During the Q&A session after the seminar, a women asked the question, “If you had only one suggestion for a recent college grad, what would it be”? My answer at the time was “start saving as soon as you earn your first paycheck”. I thought that was a pretty good answer and something I did personally. However, after the seminar, she came up to me and suggested a better answer, “Live below your means”. I told her I am changing my answer to hers! She was right, that was the best advice I could give to a recent college grad. You may be asking, “What does this have to do with Mark’s suggested topic of self-improvement?
Here is my take. Money, or more specifically money problems, are the root of many divorces, stress, marital arguments, working too much (we have all heard the regret of ‘not spending enough time with family while on the deathbed’ story). You get the point. But what causes money problems? Certainly it could be joblessness which is something that, in these difficult times, is a cause of a lot of financial stress. But what about the folks that are working and have financial stress. I submit that the cause, in general, is due to people living to their means (or maybe above), not below their means. While I am not suggesting that you are cheap and don’t spend money, I am suggesting that you “pay yourself first”. What does this mean? Simply, set aside 15-20% of your income for your long-term goals and live on whatever is left. If you try to argue that it is not possible and that you can’t reduce your expenses, I would tell you that you are wrong. Anyone can hunker down and do this; you just may have to forgo some things. Tips on budgeting is beyond the scope of this blog – I could list many ideas but you will need to look at your budget and expenses to determine what you are willing to forgo. If you are still reading this and are saying that you can’t reduce your expenses and save 15-20%, again, I would tell you to speak with anyone that has ever lived on food stamps and welfare (I did as a kid) to learn the meaning of what is a necessity and what is a luxury. With this perspective, you can appreciate your expenses and lifestyle better. Ultimately, if you live below your means and save 15-20% of your income, you have a very good shot at financial independence and more importantly, living a financially stress-free life.
Gary S. Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®
Founder and CEO
410.740.0220 | Gary@WilliamsAsset.com
Williams Asset Management | 8850 Columbia 100 Parkway, Ste. 204, Columbia, MD 21045 | www.WilliamsAssetManagement.com
For information about The Art of Retirement (with Foreword by Ronnie Lott), please visit www.theartofretirement.org
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