Some of the Players have Change but it’s the same Game, Survival of the Fittest

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When people are shown the picture above and asked what they see, the response is “a black dot”. Hardly ever do people say that they see a lot of empty white space.  We seem to have a default to focus on things that stand out rather than things that all blend.  This somewhat negative focus occurs because our reptilian brain is programmed to alert us to potential threats in the environment so as to warn us and help keep us safe.  We notice the dot because it stands out as different.  Anything that is different from the environment could be a possible threat. It may be an approaching bear in the distance. It is the desire to stay alive, that leads us to default to the negative assumption. (Better be wrong and safe than unaware and dead!).

This tendency also arises in the world of finance. The players have changed, but the rules are the same, don’t get eaten (don’t lose money). Today we are not running from bears and tigers to keep safe. Instead, we are running from (avoiding) financial losses to keep safe. Money represents survival in today’s world.

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Our basic human impulse then is to hate losing (being eaten by a wild animal) more than we like winning (staying out of sight) as it relates to financial investments. Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Noble Prize for economics for his theory that showed this phenomenon. When conditions are uncertain, the theory states that people have an irrational tendency to be less willing to gamble with profits than with losses. We are happy for an hour when we win $50 but sulk all day when we lose $50.  It is natural that we would have this default reaction because money is now necessary for survival so we don’t want to lose (get eaten) especially when faced with uncertainty. Not losing money means survival. Losing money means reduces chances of survival, as a result not losing takes precedence over everything else.

People make decisions based on gains and losses rather than the final outcome. This may not always be the best strategy to ensure financial success, but because survival is built into our DNA we default to preserving gains and avoiding losses. When investors enter the stock market the objective is to make gains and avoid losses instead of placing emphasis on the value of the stock.  This results in selling quickly to capture profits and holding on to losses instead of selling them off quickly. We hold on to the losses in the hope of recovering which usually never happens and instead it drags us deeper in the hole.  Another irrational behaviour of when we let the reptilian brain (our default) takeover is where people don’t invest because they don’t want to pay taxes on the earnings. They ignore the fact that there is still an after tax gain. For many, however, the aversion to loss is so strong, that the satisfaction they receive from the extra earnings would not compensate them for the feelings of loss which they incurred because of paying the taxes.

When people hate losing more than they like winning, it affects the quality and the quantity (in dollar terms) of our lives. The quality of our life is affected when we don’t take chances and try new things because we are afraid of loss (or failure). This prevents us from really knowing what our capabilities are because it dampens our spirit.  Also when we play it safe, we can really miss out on significant opportunities not only for personal growth but also the chance of making financial gains.

The question remains, how do we fight our natural fight or flight instincts when it comes to finance? It all starts in our head, quite literally. We need to get out of the reptilian brain and let our neocortex takeover and reframe the situation. In the case of a loss which is what people are most terrified off, we have to reframed the loss into a positive experience. We have to see it as a positive event that teaches us some valuable lessons. Lessons such as: identifying what they shouldn’t do next time, the need for more careful analysis and maybe we learn not to take financial advice from our barber. When we reframe a negative experience into a good one, the result is that we will cut our losses faster and recover much sooner. We will also be more optimistic and better prepared for our next investment.

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So the message this week is that we need to reframe bad financial experiences and move on to recovery rather than keep licking our wounds.  By reframing the situation even if we didn’t jump on the investment bandwagon right away, at least our stress level would have been in check and I for one think we are all better off if we can reduce stress in our lives. The next time you have a negative financial experience, learn your lessons, reframe and move on. Taking action to correct rather than just protect is the only way to get ahead financially.  Let your neocortex take over and move you into a better space. At the end of the day, true survival is really striking the right balance between our need for financial survival (governed by the reptilian brain, which is programmed to keep us safe) and our ability to recover when we make mistakes and incur losses (neocortex-our ability to think logically).

Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

MAKING MINI MONEY MANAGER$

Today’s post is a link to an article I wrote for The Center for Parenting Education. This article is specifically for parents or caregivers with young children between the ages of 0-7 years old.  It provides practical advice on how to foster positive behavioral traits for developing effective money management.

You can read the article here:

Making Mini Money Manager$

How Susceptible are we to Branding?

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These days when I go shopping I stop for a moment and ask myself why am I getting this particular product.  What is the driving force for me to buy this particular brand? I read the label and it says healthy, Non-GMO, reduced sugar. These words resonate with me because these are the things I am concerned about. So I pick up the package that is pretty and has all the right words. Then I turn to the less popular brand and I compare the ingredients-exact same (as my daughter would say). Typically the generic brands have the same composition of ingredients that the well marketed and established brand have and they are usually substantially cheaper. Unless you have done your research, there is no way of knowing whether the branded product has better quality ingredients than the generic brand.  So which do I choose? It’s usually a tossup. There are days I will get the cheaper product and there are days I will go for the branded one.

I am sure most of you behave in a similar fashion.  We consumers are multifaceted individuals. Our purchasing behavior is a function of a number of factors, mood, age, gender, cultural background, education levels, income levels and health status. These are the main ones.  Our purchases are the physical manifestation of a very complex decision process that happens in a split second that we are not even conscious of.  It is for this reason that I have started becoming more conscious when I shop. I want some of my control back.

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Marketers spend a lot of money on research to come up with right words and colours for their brands.  Words and colours are used to get an emotional reaction from us whether we are aware of it or not.  In a previous post I referenced the book Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom, it’s a fascinating book that examines how companies brandwash adults and even more scary how they brandwash our kids.

Our children are being hooked very early on, prenatal is some cases. A good example of this is Kopiko, the Philippine candy brand. This company supplied candy to doctors to give to pregnant mothers.  This candy was essentially coffee that tastes like candy.  It was an amazing (albeit scary and ethically questionable) way to capture a market that wasn’t even in the world yet.  Research has shown that whatever the mothers eats affects the physical transformation of the fetal brain and this affects what the baby will want to eat later on. Researchers who studied the success of Kopiko’s  approach found that both parents and children associated a sense of “nostalgia and belonging” from these candies. It’s no surprise that Kopika is one of the largest coffee brands in the Philippines.

It seems that children don’t just learn the names and symbols of brands. They develop a lifelong preference for the particular product.  There is evidence to support this claim in an article published in Pediatrics (August 2007). Children were given the same product wrapped in branded and generic wrapping. The kids all found that the products wrapped in the branded wrapping taste better. These kids already have a built in preference for a particular brand because they have made the association that it is better, when in reality there were no differences in the products.

So what does this all means? Well, the first thing is that you have to be aware of these tactics and do your best to ensure you and your child do not fall prey to them. The easiest way to do this is to be conscious of your purchasing decisions and start talking to your kids about the advertisements which are targeted to them. Children usually take the cue from the people around them, aka you, so when you start becoming more conscious of your choices, it spills over to them as well.

The second thing is that you have to recognize that your preferences today were most likely shaped by the marketers and companies in the years you were growing up. Think about it, when you see consume certain products don’t they just bring back memories of family and fun carefree days. Usually  it’s a particular brand of cookies, cakes, drinks or pies. Any product that has an emotional association to some event or a particular time in your life will continue to be your default preference, unless you make the conscious effort to change it. If it turns out that it’s a good one, then great. However, if it is not, then you need to take action to correct it. It’s as simple as that. It may be simple, but it is not always easy. The challenge comes when we have to unlearn years of patterned behaviour.

There are two reasons why I would encourage you to make the effort to change brandwashed behaviours. They are:

  1. It forces you to stop operating on autopilot and be present and make conscious choices in your life. In the beginning, it might be a bit tedious, but it is worth doing. Some of the items we consume can easily be given up or substituted for something that is better for us. Too often we get comfortable with our choices and they become second nature that we don’t even think twice about them.
  • It may end up saving you money, especially in the long run, when you realize that maybe you don’t need certain products after all. There is a significant cost savings to be had if we all become more mindful of what we are spending on. When it comes to food items there may also be an added health benefit because by really paying attention to what you are consuming you may discover healthier options and choices.

So you have more to gain by taking the time to pay attention to what it is you are buying and why. I believe that sometime in the future we will look back at this stage of our human development in awe and disbelief. We would look back and wonder how people could be so gullible, how  could they fall for all those marketing tricks. How could companies be so ruthless and uncaring and knowingly sell products that cause harm to people. Products that make people addicted, cause havoc on their body and cause disease, all for the sole purpose of making money.

Once upon a time, many injustices in the world- slavery, suppression of women’s rights, and persecution for having a different faith- were considered a normal part of society. Today we are less tolerant and even though there are still pockets of injustice, it is no longer the norm.   So too, I think it’s just a matter of time that society will look back and see this commercialization as a flagrant abuse of humanity, all for the sake of money and wonder how could people on either side have willingly  participated in such a fiasco with such gusto.

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Just remember brandwashing can only happen with your consent. The moment you get off autopilot and take control, marketing tactics will start to have less and less control over your buying decisions. You can slowly regain control by continuously striving to be a totally conscious consumer. I have taken up the challenge, I hope you do as well.

Dr. M

thekidonomicsseries.wordpress.com

Money Should Never Triumph Accountability and Responsibility

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I talk a lot about money and I usually choose to see the positive side of things. I am in the “half full glass” camp. Money, I have said time and time again is imperative to our existence based on how our society is currently structured.  I believe that there can be a better way, how and in what manner I can’t say at this point. I am not sure  whether or not I will see a new way of living and that does not involve money  in my lifetime, but I do, believe it will evolve at some point, if only because we can’t continue on this path that is both destructive and imbalanced.

The recent fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s demonstrated the unpleasant role of money in our society. There was never a clearer example of a case where money talks! The promoters and sponsors did a phenomenal job of causing a frenzy over this match that it blinded (temporarily anyway) people to this man’s history of violence against women. Indeed, it’s a slippery slope he is after all a boxer and makes his money from pounding his fist into his opponent, talk about taking home your work. Yet still fans, sponsors and celebrities somehow put their morals on pause. I am not sure this is a good example of living in the now.   The financial implications of boycotting this fight would have been too much to bear by everyone involved.  The truth is  I had no idea who he was until I heard all the hoopla about the match on social media. Then I heard about his history (on CNN and Cosmopolitan!).

Many are baffled by the temporary amnesia of the masses. Everyone was asking the question why are people coming out in droves and turning a blind eye to Mayweather’s abusive nature. Even social media was not able to drum up enough talk about this issue. Somehow it got glossed over and instead the hype was focused on the match. I am not sure why people choose to turn a blind eye. Have we become so desensitized?  Less noteworthy issues have gone viral and have stirred heated debate. The blue and gold dress was a phenomenon. The feminist print on a shirt caused a stir. Maria Kang the fitness-obsessed mom was banned from Facebook after she posted a picture of herself with her three kids and the caption “what’s your excuse?” People get so indignant and worked up over these issues, but yet still they rush to pay $100 and more depending on where you were to see the fight. Everyone came out, including celebrities to see a man who has a long history of domestic violence against women and no one raised a voice of concern.

There was a lot of money to be made by everyone involved in this fight, the organizers, the sponsors, the bookies and the fans that placed their bets. The odds were in Mayweather’s favour, he remains unbeaten in 48 career bouts. Mayweather earned more in one night than some companies do in a year.  He made more money in one night than the Cheese Cake Factory and Buffalo Wild Wings made in one year of earnings. Was it that there was too much money at stake to allow any deterrence to the match?  Is that why all voices of dissent were downplayed or ignored?  When money dictates our humanity or it overrides common sense and compassion, then we have to really question the power it has over us. It also makes us understand that if this type of manipulation can be done at this stage, what else is being done at other levels that we are blind to?

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Last week I talked about how conditioned we are by stereotypes, are we all just blind to the truth? I don’t mean to go all X-files on you, but this reaction or lack of reaction to this fighter makes me wonder where our morality starts and where money begins. Does money trump decency, morality and accountability?

These are some of the questions we have to ask ourselves and open our eyes to what is really before us. Why are we so complacent, have we been so desensitized to the point of not caring or are we just more selective when we have a financial stake. In this case it seems that it is indeed a man’s world and the boys are out to play and when the stakes are high, money overshadows everything else.

I am not a boxing aficionado, I have done a little boxing myself and as a sport boxing is phenomenal. It’s an amazing cardio work and it’s a safe way to get out pent up aggression, but when you step out of the ring you put the gloves down and leave them there. There is no excuse for violence against women. What a strange world we live in, this weekend we celebrated Mother’s day, and a couple of weekends ago people were happily cheering for someone who has been abusive to women. These things make me stop and think about the society we live in and the role that each individual has to play.  Are we just puppets of money that wherever it goes, we follow and whatever it says is “hot” right now we support? Are we too busy trying to make money that we forgot who we are and what we stand for?

If you had all the money in the world, would it change your morals? I am not sure we can really answer this question, because we simply won’t know until we get there, but it is a question that we must ask ourselves if only to remind us of how we really are.

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Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

How Brainwashed are we when it comes to Managing Money?

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I was watching TV with my daughters a few nights ago and I saw this commercial for TD Bank. “Banking on the beach”, indeed technology has made our lives so much easier and freeing. It was a good commercial, we see an older couple on a beautiful beach getting a massage. The Mom’s phone rings and it’s their son asking for money to buy textbooks. The mom is happy to oblige, she turns to her husband and he opens up the TD App and voila the money is sent to their son. It’s pretty cool when you could be in another country getting a massage and do your banking at the same time. Amazing!

Then it dawned on me, the son called the Mom to ask for money and the Mom turns to Dad for him to send it.  Why didn’t she send it? Was it technical thing, where you can’t be on the call and simultaneously send the money?  Even if that was the case, why not let the Dad answer the call and let Mom send the money?

What I saw in that commercial was the perpetuation of the stereotypical message that women don’t deal with finances. It was so normal and expected that the Dad would be the one to send off the money.  So built into our psyche that the few people I asked, didn’t pick up on that subtle point. This commercial reaffirms the old paradigm where women leave all the financial decisions to the men in their lives, whether it is their father, a brother or their husband.

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Now, it might be that the target group for the commercial is in fact the older generation, but even then it’s not of service to the women in that generation. First of all the women will outlive the men, so when the husband passes on, the wife is left to manage on her own. In my consultancy practice all too often I have seen widows who don’t even have the time to mourn the passing of their husband because they are stressed with having to deal with making sense of their finances. Many are totally in the dark about their financial situation because they always left the finances to their husbands.   In some of the worst cases, the husband made very bad financial decisions and the window is left with debt instead of an inheritance.

Similarly, in cases when older couples who have been married for over 25 years get divorced, many ex-wives suffer tremendous financial loss because they were not aware of how the finances were structured. In the end these ex-wives come up empty handed.  Each person should have some basic education and knowledge of how their financial life works. So that when the day comes and you are on your own, you will know how to manage your financial life or at least know where to start.

The younger generation of women are not immune to this type of thinking either. Many women feel that they are not good with money. Added to this, are the stealthy marketers who know how to pull at female’s emotional strings from cosmetics to baby food, they get their products sold.  Popular culture also perpetuates this stereotype. You know the one where women are glamorized for buying tons of shoes and clothes that she never wears. The implications here are that women are not concerned about finances. Their focus is on fashion and looking good.  It’s not stylish to be concerned about money, savings and the future. No, it’s all about living life in the moment and spending like there is no tomorrow! This is serious when you consider that there is still a huge gap in women’s earnings.  For all the progress that women have made in the workforce, wages have yet to keep up.  This is even more reason for women to take more control of their financial lives and ensure that they can achieve their goals.

On the flip side, this old paradigm is not serving men either. It puts more pressure on them to be the bread winner, when perhaps their significant other is the one that is employed and bringing home the bacon. Talk about the male crisis.  Traditional gender roles are slowly eroding and with that we need to ensure that each person, regardless of gender, is educated on managing their money.

I believe that the best way to foster effective money management skills and eradicate high levels of future personal debt is to start educating the children.  My mission is to teach young children positive behavioural traits that will facilitate effective money management.   Children learn by example. To date, women are the primary caregivers. They have a significant influence on a child’s education. How can we expect the mothers, to teach the next generation of children financial skills when they themselves feel that this is not their forte?  What example will they set for their sons and daughters?

Everyone, regardless of gender, age or status need to understand the role money plays in their lives. It is not acceptable to pass over this responsibility to anyone else.  Recent research is showing that there is no such thing as a “female” brain or a “male” brain. All brains are equally capable of all functions. It is just that some are conditioned to believe they have limits to what they can do. It’s time we start reprogramming women’s brains to deal with money and show them that they have both the capacity and ability to do the job.

The next time a bank commercial comes on, take a second look and notice if there are any underlying messages.  Drop me a line and let me know what you discovered.

Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

Manifesting Financial Freedom in Three Simple Steps

There are three simple (not necessarily easy) steps to financial freedom. These are the fundamental steps for any goals one may have in life.  The first step is to conceive. Form the idea/thought of what you want. The next step is to take action. As Tony Robbins says, take massive action. Taking action is what brings your idea out into the world. The final step is allowing the realization of the goal, the manifestation of the unseen to the seen.

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Every idea is achievable if we take action to make it a reality. Many have great dreams, but few are willing to do what it takes to make it come through.  If you have been reading this blog you would realize that financial success is affected by several factors: family upbringing, environment, social circle, embed cultural attitude and the media, all affect our mindset and behavioral when it comes to money.  If we have a dream to be financially successful the only way to achieve it is to take action, more specially take “massive” conscious action. If we allow ourselves to go on autopilot then depending on our subconscious programming with respect to money, we may actually sabotage ourselves. This is the toughest part of the process. Here are some suggestions that may be useful:

  • Write down your idea and
  • Write out the actions needed to achieve it

Writing, not typing, stimulates your reticular activating system (RAS) this sends signals to the cerebral cortex to pay attention.  Klauser in her book Write It Down, Make it Happen, notes that “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that…were there all along.”  When we write our brains makes us more alert to opportunities that we may otherwise miss.

  • Day by day, moment by moment work on it. It’s like eating a giant chocolate elephant; you can only do it bite by bite. Start small and be accountable to yourself. If you are seeking financial freedom and you are saving to make an investment in stocks or property, you have to be vigilant. You cannot be persuaded by the great deals on flights to Europe for the weekend. Or be lured in by discounted designer clothes or shoes. You have to be disciplined.

  • Have the right mindset committed to achieve your goals. It doesn’t have to be a tedious or strenuous process. It is important to see obstacles or setback as an opportunity to learn something new and grow rather than see it as a letdown or failure.  Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before he created the light bulb and he never saw it as a failure. He just saw it as 1000 ways NOT to make a light bulb.

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What are you writing about today?

Dr. M

 www.thekidonomicsseries.com

Compelling Biological Reasons Why You Should Have a Financial Plan

If I told you that the majority of the population lives in fear would you believe me? Fear is an unpleasant emotion that arises because of a threat from something or someone which leads to pain.   The fear I am referring to comes in the form of the scarcity mindset, the fear that we will not have enough, the fear that we have to continuously protect what we have or we will lose it. It is this fear that wakes us up in the morning and compels us to take action in the world. Fear is not all bad it can motivate us into positive action, but too much can be debilitating.  Bruce Lipton, the author of Biology of Belief, points out that survival of the human body requires both growth and protection.  There must be a balance between these two. Our nature is to be in a state of growth. There is a need for protection only when we face of threats, predators.  The human body can manage with short-term stress, but it does not do well with extended periods of stress. With extended periods of stress, the flight or fight response kicks into high gear and the body releases a chemical cocktail including adrenaline and cortisol. Persistently high levels of these chemicals cause havoc on the body.

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We may not have to run from wild tigers and bears and we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we are not under the constant threat of bombs and explosions. However, we do have one threat and we have been living with this for so long that our system has found interesting ways to cope. These ways include hypertension, cholesterol, weight gain and coronary disease. Yes, that threat is stress. The main cause of this stress is scarcity. Every economic and financial model is built on the premise of scarcity. Scarcity is the driving force of competition and the current make up of our economic structure and money is what we use to allocate scarce resources. Money is the manifestation of scarcity. In the scarcity model people connect and related through two basic activities: earning and spending of money. Human beings are the only species that need money to survive.  Animals, birds, insects, fishes and plants manage to exist and thrive without it. Today the majority of the population is in perpetual motion of earning and spending. Money governs the daily activities of life and it causes a lot of stress, especially when the amount of money earned is less that the amount of money that is spent.

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As I mentioned in a previous post the majority of society is at the survival stage of financial success. This means having a source of income (earning) is important.  To meet the basic necessities of life, food, clothes, cars, home, bills requires one to have a source of income, aka a job. If you are not one of the lucky ones that have a job that you love doing, then you’re mostly likely miserable. The 2013, The Gallup poll reported that 87% of the world wide employees were not engaged at work. Employees were either sleepwalking through (not engaged) their day or undermining their work and that of others (actively disengaged employees).

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So we have evidence that people are not happy at work. We also have evidence that more deaths resulting from heart attacks occur on a Monday. Add these two facts together and we can summarize that people are not happy at work and the stress of it all is killing them.

While it might be physically easy to leave a stressful job, you just have to hand in your resignation. That’s the easy part. The hard part is the impact it has on your finances. Leaving your job can put you and your family in jeopardy. When mortgages can’t be paid, when car payments are late and when you find it hard to put nutritious food on the table this will lead to a different kind of stress. Basically, you’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.  Staying in a job you hate causes stress, leaving also causes stress. What’s a person to do?

I don’t have all the answers (not yet anyway) but I do know one thing, we can reframe the situation.  To reduce our stress about money, we can make a financial plan and map out our lives in terms of our earning and spending. This will help us to put our working life into perspective. If it is we really do hate our jobs but it pays well, we can better tolerate it if we know that it will facilitate our life goals and objectives for ourselves and our families. If having this job means you can pay your mortgage, send your kids to school and take a vacation once a year, then you will do it with less animosity and perhaps try to find a way to make it more enjoyable. When you don’t have a plan and you have a lot of pressure at work and there is no big picture to guide you and put things into perspective then the stress factor is increased.  Will having a financial plan take away the annoying boss or coworkers, or the other stresses at work, it will not, but it will give you a different outlook which will allow you to deal with the stresses a little better. A lot of times we can change situations just by how we perceive them.

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A financial plan is essentially a life plan and when you have focus and objectives to meet the path seems to be clearer. The actions necessary to get there are done with more understanding and clarity. Many people feel that having a plan is restrictive, but if we reframe it and see the plan as a guide and not a dictator then we will be more apt to follow it. We don’t have to follow it rigidly, but generally move in the direction of the plan. In this way we can have a less stressful view of working and having a financial plan, should be seen as something that is empowering to us rather than something that is restraining.   In the end the old saying your health is your wealth is true! Protect your health (your wealth) by having a financial plan and actively work towards your objectives. The world is what it is at the moment and until things change we have to make the best of what we have and where we are right now. Take the actions that would allow us to move forward and be stronger emotionally and financially.

If you don’t have a financial plan get one ASAP, your life literally depends on it!

Dr. M

http://www.thekidonomicsseries.com/

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In a Perfect World a Woman Running for President Would Be the Norm rather than the Exception

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Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she is running for president has really brought to the fore some really important implications for gender equality in America. Her campaign seems to be off to a good start. She failed in 2008 because of her inability to connect with people on a real level. Aiming for the middle class and women is a good strategy. How well it works for her only time will tell. We just have to wait and see how she resonates with voters over the coming 19 months of campaigning.

It is great to see the fanfare and hoopla about the prospect of America finally having a female president. As momentous as this may be for America, it is not a new concept in other parts of the world. There quite a few heads of state in many other countries check out the list below. There two most well-known heads of state were Margret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi.

Female Presidents

For a country that deems itself the “the moral torchbearer and defender of human rights, of fairness and justice” and has never had a female president is a little hypocritical.   Way back in 1872, Victoria Woodhull, ran for office and was incarcerated on Election Day. She spent over a month in New York City’s Ludlow Street Jail on obscenity charges, because women didn’t have the right to vote (much less run for office) in American until 1920.

The U.S is behind 19 other countries when it comes to gender equality.  According to the Global Gender Gap Index, America ranks No. 20 out of 142 countries. It lags behind Canada, France, South Africa and even some less developed countries such as Rwanda and Nicaragua.

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The US also ranks No. 54 in the political category since it has never had a female president.  With their entire chest pounding of being the land of the brave and the home of the free, they really have to step up the game when it comes to gender equality.

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It is high time that a woman becomes leader of the wealthiest country on the planet.  Hillary’s plan to break the ceiling glass and fight for a society that deals with women more equitably is a win for everyone. If you are a man, it means your wife, sister; mother and all the other female people in your life will have a greater opportunity to have upward mobility in the workforce, to have higher pay and better policies in their favour.  Investing in women is investing in the future. Economically, gender equality increases the stock of human capital and raises labour productivity. Socially, it will foster continued equality and inclusiveness in the future because when the mothers of a nation are treated fairly, the children they raise will be grow up knowing that equality is right of everyone and is not something based on gender.

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I not a political analyst, but I think Hillary Clinton is the only woman who has made it this close to the race for president. In terms of her qualifications she is second to none. Really, if you think about it, she intimately (no pun intended) understands what it is to be in the White House.  If she is elected as president, she will be the only president to have also held the title of first lady. Ms. Obama, please take note!

To all her critics, the fight for gender equality is not a battle of the sexes, society as a whole will benefit from leveling the playing field. There have been numerous studies which have demonstrated that gender inequality stunt economic growth so adopting policies to reduce and eventually eradicate this inequality is beneficial to the country as a whole. Higher growth is good news for everyone regardless of gender. I understand that there is ingrained archaic thinking when it comes to women and the workplace this may take some time to change but it has to change. There can be no progress without change. We also have to remember that politician are politicians, regardless of their gender, they will do and say things that are required of the office they hold. So holding constant any personal bias against her, Hillary is the best chance that America has at really making substantial improvements in gender quality. Hillary Clinton is to America and gender equality what the four mile race was for runners. You just have to see it done once and all barriers will be broken after that.

I have to say Marco Rubio’s comment about “yesterday” is a clever and witty but so condescending. Mario is flashy and hip, but it takes more than a great showman to run a country. There is no substitute for experience. I hope people put aside the trivialities and give Hillary a fair chance and not get sidetracked by her hair style and what she wears. I really believe America will be better off with her as a president.

Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

Out With the Old in With the New, Replacing Limiting Financial Beliefs

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Beliefs are powerful and so pervasive that we don’t even realize that we have them.  Even worse is that we don’t believe we can be free of them. Elephants that perform at the circus are a good example of how beliefs determine what actions we take in life.   These huge elephants are tied with a rope or a chain to small pole and even though they can easy break free, they don’t.  The reason is that they were conditioned into believing that they can’t break free. When the elephant is just a calf they tie him to a pole with rope or a chain and no matter how hard he tries to escape, he can’t escape. He eventually gives up trying. Even after he has grown up and can easily break free, he still believes he cannot escape and stays tied to the pole.

Many of our money beliefs are the same, it is easy to break free of them, but we have been conditioned to believe we can’t. There are many limiting beliefs about money that exists. I have selected what I consider the top six most common limiting financial beliefs and will suggest replacing them with more empowering beliefs.  It is easier to replace an old belief rather than try to delete it. This can be likened to the story of the two dogs. “Inside you are two dogs.  One is evil, the other is good.  The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.” “Which one wins?” “Whichever one you feed the most.” Let’s replace the old belief (evil dog) with the new empowering belief (good dog). It’s easier to feed to the good dog rather than try to obliterate the evil one.

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The first most common limiting money belief is “Money is the root of all evil.”  Replace this with “Money is a tool to help me live the life I want”.

Intrinsically money has no value. Those notes and coins are only valuable because we have all agreed to accept them as a medium of exchange.  It is a stand in for value. Money itself is neutral how you choose to use it is up to you. You can use it for good or bad. Not every business or wealthy person is a cheat or a scoundrel.  To further replace this limiting belief research stories about people who have succeeded and are doing really good things for others. This will help to disassociate the notion that money is the root of all evil.

The second common limiting belief is “To be wealthy means that I will have to work all the time.” Replace this with “Wealth allows me freedom to explore my dreams.”

The goal of all wealth accumulation is financial freedom; this is the stage where work is for pleasure and is not a compulsion. Being wealthy really means that you will be able to have more time to pursue your true desires, whatever they may be. When you have achieved financial freedom, you will have learned how to leverage your own money to work for you and not the other way around.

The third common limiting belief is “I am not good with money, I am not smart enough.” Replace it with “I can learn all I need to know to navigate my financial life.”

No one starts off being an expert. Also, you don’t have to know everything in finance to manage your own money. There are numerous sources of information out there and once you get started you will soon realize that it’s not as complicated as you first thought. You will never know what you can do if you don’t try.

The fourth common limiting belief is “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Replace it with “I am totally responsible for my financial status.”

As I alluded to in the last post, there is a lot of evidence there that the rich are in fact getting richer and the poor is getting poorer. The truth, however, this is really an excuse for us not taking action. When we believe this, we give all our power and responsibility away. We need to reclaim that and change our mindset to one that empowers us to create our own financial abundance. The alternative is powerlessness and poverty.

The fifth common limiting belief is “I can only get rich by winning the lottery.”  Replace it with “I will take the necessary action each day to make myself financially abundant.”

This might seem like a weird financial belief, but many people see the lottery as the only way they can become rich. This belief is very debilitating because it prevents them from taking action that will help them grow wealth. This belief keeps them in dreamland.  When Napoleon Hill wrote the book “Think and Grow Rich” nowhere did it mention, daydreaming about winning the lottery.

Wishing will not bring riches,” Hill writes. “But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.” “When riches take the place of poverty, the change is usually brought about through well-conceived and carefully executed plans.”

When we have a well-conceived plan, we can take concerted action each day to achieve wealth it moves us closer to our plan for financial abundance; simply dreaming about it does not.

The sixth common limiting belief “It’s selfish to want a lot of money.” Replace it with “It is my duty to take care of myself financially so as to be of service to others.”

There is nothing selfish about wanting lots of money. You can’t help the starving if you are starving too. You are not less of a person when you want to ensure you have financial abundance. It is only when you have this abundance can you be of service to others. The reality is that money is crucial to our physical survival. We need it to feed, clothed and shelter ourselves. Without money we will not be able to enjoy the basic necessities of life, much less be able to pursue our passion.  Money facilitates the practical aspects of living and the more of it we have, the more able we are to innovate, share and grow.

How much money needed to consider ourselves financially abundant is different for everyone. How much is enough will depend on what your goals in life are. Regardless of how much money we want, we must have the underlying belief that it is possible for us to have it, that we are capable of achieving it and that we are worthy of having this abundance. Replacing limiting beliefs about money with empowering and motivating beliefs about money is the first step on the road to financial abundance.

What are your limiting money beliefs? Do you know what they are? What action(s) have you taken or are planning to take to turn around your current money beliefs?

Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

Money is the facilitator to experience the world-Financial Success

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There is no one definition of financial success. The definition varies from country to country as we see from the picture above (MasterCard survey 2014). It also varies from individual to individual. For some, financial success is simply having a positive net worth, where their assets are more than their liabilities.  For others, financial success means being debt free. What one person might consider to be financially successful, may be wretched for someone else because their lifestyle and preferences. Individual needs and wants differ on many levels. If most us had $50,000,000 we would feel financially successful.  If Donald Trump’s net worth was $50,000,000, I don’t think he would feel financially successful. In fact, with a net worth of $50,000,000, he would probably just be able to make ends meet.

It is difficult to define financial success in a value amount because it is subjective in every case. Instead, we can define financial success in terms of the relationship between work and income.  There are three stages we all strive to achieve. Each stage is a natural progression from the other. The reason we need to know these stages is so that we can determine what our next move will be. Without having a goal we are like leaves in the wind blowing hither and thither.  When we have a goal we can program the destination and like a missile head directly for the target.  Knowing the stages of financial success allows one to determine what financial course of action needs to be taken, if any.

The first stage is the survival stage, the stage of financial security. At this stage we can meet all basic needs are met, for instance food, housing, clothing, cars, and basic recreation. Here we are comfortable. However, our security is contingent upon us working.  Working for our living is what keeps us afloat. To ensure financial security, we have to make sure we don’t get fired or that our business is at least making enough for us to live off.  The grind of working 9 to 5 or 9 to wee hours in the morning if you’re a business owner is an essential requirement at this stage. The majority of the population falls into this category. It is here that they live, work and die.

The second stage of financial success is stability and here we are independent of work. Passive income is the name of the game.  All our basic needs are met and we don’t have to work.  Classic examples of passive income are real estate, investments and royalties. The more recent sources of passive income are affiliate marketing and network marketing.  So at this stage, life is pretty cool, with little effort you are able to have income to meet all your basic needs and there is no need to work. There is a small group of society that falls into this category; you may even know a few who are in network marketing or real estate. (Look out for an upcoming post on ways to earn passive income).

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The third level of financial success is affluence. This is where we would ALL like to be. At the affluence stage, we have true financial freedom. At this stage you can meet all your needs and wants and you don’t have to work.    This stage is occupied/controlled by very few. This is the class of old and new money. Now, when I say very few are at this stage, I mean that literally. There are 85 rich people on this planet that has virtually the same wealth as the combined wealth of 3.5 billion poor people (approximately half the world population).  This statistic was taken from a report entitled Working for the Few. The report was released by Oxfam in 2014 and it went on to say that:

  • Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
  • The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
  • In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

The report also points out that this inequality is not very democratic because the wealthy tend to have a greater influence on the government. This results in policy making and rules that favor the rich. These are indeed grim statistics and even grimmer implications when it comes to government policies. Is it any wonder that many feel very frustrated by it all? It seems that our society is structured in such a way that the masses at the bottom work to sustain the few at the Apex.

While this may be the reality we face now, it doesn’t mean that it has to be our reality forever.  What if we can change our circumstances, if only to move up one step further up the ladder? We have two choices; we can throw our hands up in the air and think we are doomed so why bother to try. Or we can figure out where we want to be and start working towards it. In a previous post I talked about MINDSET as the key to financial (life) success.  When we study the lives of those who have made it financially (the nouveau riche), they all have one thing in common. They have the mind to succeed, they overcame the programming that they grew up with, they became more than they were told they could be. Think Steve Jobs, Ophra, Tony Robins, and read up on the Dragons.  They all started out just like many of us and they found their passion and the rest is history.

I do believe that success in life really starts in our head. It’s cliché to say, but if we believe we can, we can and if we believe we can’t, we can’t. It is as simple and as complex as that. If we can combine a well thought out financial plan (tools and strategies) with a belief system that supports our goals, then our financial success is assured.

So where are you right now and where do you want to be? What’s your next move? Do you know?  Does your belief system support your financial goals?

Dr. M

www.thekidonomicsseries.com

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