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Financial Wisdom From An Unexpected Source

by Shawanda Greene

Stack of colorful hardback books While listening to a recent speech by Newt Gingrich – former House Speaker, Republican presidential candidate, and Teddy Ruxpin’s doppelganger – I heard something rather interesting.

I was driving home from the gym, after a stressful workday, so forgive my inability to quote exactly what was said, but here’s the gist of it – learn to say “Yes, if…” instead of “No, because…”

Although Gingrich was referring to bipartisan negotiations among our currently dysfunctional and ineffective federal government, the message can be applied to our personal finances and even our everyday lives.

Question: Will you be able to retire comfortably by the age of 65?

Possible Answer #1: No, because conservatives want to destroy Social Security and Medicare, the United States is bankrupt, greedy corporations only care about profits, all good paying jobs will be outsourced to India, the rich are getting the richer, the poor are getting poorer, and there’s no hope of EVER saving enough to retire before I drop dead.

Possible Answer #2: Yes, if I inherited a sizable estate from a wealthy relative.

Possible Answer #3: Yes, if I define my destiny, command a higher salary by excelling in my profession, save at least 20% of my income, build a well diversified portfolio of assets, invest consistently, invest wisely, and accept responsibility for my decisions.

Work through the answers with several money related questions, making sure to focus on issues that are within your control.

  • Can I fund 100% of my children’s college education?
  • Can I pay off student loans that resulted from 6 years of private school education?
  • Can I accomplish my childhood dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur?
  • Will I be able to take care of my parents if they’re unable to care for themselves?
  • Will I be able to quit my job and stay at home with the kids?

No one said the questions would be easy. Sometimes hard questions call for hard answers. 

If you really don’t believe a challenging goal is attainable, and you’re unwilling to search for creative solutions, then your answer may be, “No, because…”

Even when the answer is “Yes, if…,” you’re not exempt from making the tough choices required in order to get to “Yes.”

Don’t squash unconventional ideas. Develop the habit of answering difficult questions in the affirmative.

Try it. What money related questions have you been answering with, “No, because…”? And what’s your path to “Yes, if…”?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Wegner August 18, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Great points! I think so many times we focus on the negatives. We're always saying "it won't work" instead of asking, "How can we make it work?"

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

This reminds me of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Instead of saying, "I can't afford it," ask "How can I afford it?" That was genius.

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shanendoah August 18, 2011 at 8:03 PM

You're right. So much in life is about attitude. Instead of saying I can't and making excuses, figure how you can and make a plan.
There's a great book on negotiating called "Getting to Yes", and it has the same theory. Instead of going back and forth about why something won't work, instead, find a way to make it work. Sometimes that means compromise on other issues, but budgets and finances are all about compromises.
Figure out what's most important to you, and say Yes, I can do this, if…

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

"Getting to Yes" sounds familiar. Looks like it's available on Audible, and I have a few unused credits. Maybe I'll download it. Hmm.

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whkern August 18, 2011 at 9:15 PM

The Power of Positive Thinking…love it

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Barbara Friedberg August 19, 2011 at 12:01 PM

You can get inspiration from anywhere :) . I can't say enough for believing "anything is possible." Wonderful reminder.

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 7:46 PM

It really is all about your mindset. I just heard a truly inspirational Ted Talk called Looking Past Limits by Caroline Casey, a woman who didn't know she was legally blind until she was 17 years old. Her story was truly amazing.

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@DebtChronicles August 20, 2011 at 1:20 AM

Great perspective – I'm a "glass is half full" kind of guy myself. But maybe I can take that to the next level, heh?

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Funny. I've always seen the glass as half empty, but I don't think that's a bad thing. When the glass is finally full, I think my mind, subconsciously, creates a bigger glass. :)

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FamilyMoneyValues August 20, 2011 at 8:57 PM

One of my monthy tips on how millionaires are different was "Millionaires ask empowering questions". You are showing us how to do that in this post. Way to go!!!

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Thanks! Here's to being a millionaire some day! Or having enough money we don't have to depend on anyone for a daggum thing.

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Brave New Life August 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM

I like this. It's a simple way to put desires into action, and put the onus on yourself to reach a desired outcome.

(despite the dimwitty source)

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Shawanda August 25, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Whether we like it or not, the onus is ALWAYS on us.

I just realized something. Onus = On us. Ha!

Thanks for the revelation!

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