END YOUR WAR WITH MONEY
BY Jaimie Blackman
CHAPTER 2: THE DO-RE-MI OF MONEY
“When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything.” “Do-Re-Mi,” The Sound of Music
It may surprise you that a great deal of music, which sounds very different on the surface, is organized using the 7-note scale, which makes up the building blocks of music. Many of you learned the names of these 7 notes when you were in school: Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do.
Instrumentalists and singers who play or sing these 7 notes can create an infinite variety of music which may include all music styles such as Jazz, Rock, Classical, Pop, and even Rap.
These 7 notes reveal the deeper meaning of music, and they exist in a dynamic relationship with each other to create a beautiful melody, a sweet harmony, or a hot, burning rhythm. Knowing these key 7 notes helps us to better engage in musical conversations, which ultimately leads to a greater understanding of music, the ability to share, that understanding, and a refinement of our music-listening choices for greater listening pleasure.
Similarly, whatever type of financial decision you are struggling with, whether it is saving for retirement, planning for a child’s college education, or selecting the right long-term care insurance, it might surprise you that financial decisions which sound very different from each other on the surface, are organized using the same 7 financial notes: Values, Cash, Return, Tax, Risk, Time and Giving.
How do people orchestrate a large number of financial combinations in financial harmony? In three simple steps:
STEP 1: ORGANIZE YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE: TURN CHAOS INTO HARMONY
Music is organized sound. The organization is key because without it music is just noise. A guitarist organizes all the potential sound combinations through a system of scales, arpeggios, and chords, which are used to rearrange the sound pallet. Now think about your financial life. Is it organized? Does it sound like music or more like a cacophony?
To help people organize the many different aspects of their financial lives, I have encapsulated key issues of wealth into what I call MoneyCapsules®. You can think of them as the Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do of money, or as I call it, The Sound of Money®.
As I previously suggested, you’ll be able to ask better questions after reviewing these 7 MoneyCapsules®. They’ll help organize your finances the way the scale system helps organize the billions of potential sound combinations into music. The process creates a MoneyCapsule for each of these financial notes. Let’s define each one:
- Values Defines what’s most important to you. Values-based decisions make for a more meaningful life. What is most important to you now? Why? What do you need clarity on?
- Cash Is the lifeblood of your financial health. A healthy financial life requires that cash flow and cash reserves are properly balanced. Consider asking questions on how your specific life theme will affect CASH.
- Return. It’s important to consider the total return on all your investments. Return is where you discover what matters most to you over the short or long-term and how market volatility affects your behavior. Consider asking questions on how your specific life theme will affect the Return on all your investments.
- The preservation of family wealth requires an integrated approach to managing taxes. Consider asking questions on how your specific life will impact taxes.
- Knowing when to self-manage or transfer unexpected life challenges to an insurance company is essential for good financial health. Consider asking questions on how your specific life theme will affect risk.
- Time is the one resource that can never be replaced. Managing time-based goals and anticipated events effectively is important. Consider asking how your specific life theme will affect your time horizon.
- Giving and receiving are powerful forces in our lives. Transferring wealth and values as part of a legacy is at the heart of Giving. Consider asking questions on how your specific life theme will affect Giving.
Here’s how some of these words could become useful during a money conversation.
• What are the things you value most?
o Financial security?
o Retiring early?
o Putting your kids through college?
Does your cash [low match your expenses?
• Do you run a cash surplus each month or quarter?
• Do you have enough cash set aside for emergency savings?
• What kind of return are you looking for on all your investments?
In music, “Do” begins and ends the scale. It is the point against which all other notes are measured. Any music note by itself has no particular meaning until compared to “Do.”
Another way of saying this is, the musical “Do” becomes the metaphor for your personal values that guide your financial life. All other parts of your financial life ought to be organized around your Values. When your Values align with your financial life, you can have harmony, instead of noise.
STEP 2: UNDERSTAND YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE: HARMONIZE YOUR VALUES
The process of organizing all these sounds is mechanical — the musician is learning different scales, arpeggios, and chords. Understanding comes when applying his or her musical preferences to the chords and scales being learned. At that point, the musician’s taste begins to dictate how music is organized.
For example, a flamenco guitarist and a rock guitarist use the same guitar fingerboard to play, but approach the instrument in completely different ways, based on their unique musical preference. The sound that emerges is vastly different in each case because it is governed by different musical preferences.
In the same way, your financial life will have a distinct sound based on your unique combination of personal values. Understanding comes when you begin to not only organize your money into distinct financial notes but also start to align them with the things you value most.
STEP 3: DECIDE BY KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS: HARMONIZE YOUR DECISIONS
The musical preference of the guitarist will then determine the decisions that are made when performing. Unique musical preference will govern which notes are played and which notes are left out, which strumming techniques are used, and how fingers move along the fingerboard.
Similarly, your unique set of values — like the musician’s musical preference — should determine how and why you spend, invest, contribute, and save your money. A healthy financial life emerges when all of your financial decisions flow from the things you value most.
For example, if you have already secured your family wealth and retirement you may want to prioritize giving by sharing your wealth through philanthropic activities. However, someone who hasn’t yet secured a comfortable retirement may want to seek to maximize and build their wealth to ensure a financially secure future. An individual’s financial decisions should reflect their individual values, just as a musician’s musical style will reflect the way he or she plays.
When you listen to music, you react to it emotionally. But supporting that music is structure and knowing that structure increases your listening pleasure. The 7 MoneyCapsules® takes your financial needs and translates them into a solid structure helping you communicate your financial self with confidence and clarity.
What does your financial life sound like today — music, or haphazard noise? Perhaps it is time to Organize and Understand before you Decide.