Generosity makes you happy. Happy people are more likely to be successful

An interesting message from Carl Richards –

Steve

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Yesterday, things came to a screeching halt for me when I read this short post from Seth Godin:

Here’s conventional wisdom:

Success makes you happy. Happiness permits you to be generous.

In fact, it actually works like this:

Generosity makes you happy. Happy people are more likely to be successful.

In four lines, he captures what I believe might be one of the biggest stories we tell ourselves. We accept the conventional wisdom that success (or money or a big house or a nice car) is the driver of our happiness. As a result, we put a bunch of important stuff on the back burner and convince ourselves that success must come first. The rest can come later.

But what if we’ve got it backward? What if showing generosity and expressing gratitude were the real starting points for happiness? What else might we be missing?

Patience, for one. As you’ve probably heard me say more than once, you need plenty of patience if you’re going to make smart money decisions. A soon-to-be published study in Psychological Science weighed the impact of gratitude on willpower.

The setup was simple. Study participants were offered the option of getting cash on the spot or opting to receive a larger check in the mail later. Before they made their choice, researchers randomly assigned participants to write about an event. The event could be something that made them feel grateful, happy, or neutral.

People who wrote about grateful events were more likely to wait and pick the larger amount. As a result, researchers suggest there’s a connection between gratitude and long-term thinking. How much smarter could we be about money with a little more long-term thinking? How much dumber are we about money when we’re focused solely on ourselves and what we don’t have?  When we focus on success (e.g., financial, professional), we’re left with a very one-dimensional view of the world. It’s a view that makes it difficult to put our decisions in context. However, by being generous (it’s not just about money) and showing gratitude for what we have, we gain the context to help us figure out what matters most. Once we know the answer to that question, it becomes that much easier to make smart financial decisions.

I understand this all sounds very New Agey and so simple as to be pointless and a waste of time. But I challenge you to pick one day next week and focus on being generous and showing gratitude. How does it change your thought process? Do some decisions become easier to make?

Then, if you feel like sharing, send me your story. I want to know if it worked for you, because the more I learn, the more I think solving the behavior gap requires asking these kinds of questions.

Carl

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No Such Thing as Unbiased Financial Advice

Is your financial advisor biased?

To find out, read on…..

Steve

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Is your financial advisor biased?

To find out, just check two things: Is the advisor human? Is he or she breathing? If so, the advisor is biased.

Even if someone created a supposedly objective robotic financial planner—let’s call it CFP-3-O—it would carry its programmer’s biases. Any providers of financial services have opinions and biases. A host of factors such as their personal backgrounds, professional training, and experience in the industry shape their investment philosophies. Their compensation model also influences their financial advice.

What you can do as a potential client is evaluate the factors that might affect an advisor’s biases. Then you can decide whether their biases will work in your favor.

After 40 years of experience in various sectors of financial services—from real estate to all types of insurance and securities—I know how these industries work. That experience as a financial services insider has given me plenty of opinions, which often show up in my weekly columns.

read the complete article here: Rick Kahler: No Such Thing as Unbiased Financial Advice |.

Ways Money Can Buy Happiness

Who knew?

Money can buy you happiness!  An interesting perspective from Rick Kahler – Fee-Only CFP.

Enjoy

Steve

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It turns out money can buy happiness, after all—sometimes.

Having a good income and the security of money invested for the future don’t insure happiness, of course. They do, however, give us a foundation that can make it easier to find happiness. Part of the secret to using money to foster happiness is knowing what to spend it on.

Spending money to lift your mood—the whole “retail therapy” idea—does not lead to happiness. It provides only a momentary sense of pleasure, which often in the long run fosters unhappiness.

Yet there are ways to spend money that do create happiness. Here, based in part on several posts about money and happiness by Dr. Jeremy Dean on his site Psyblog, are a few of them:

1. Experiences. Research says you will find greater happiness spending your money on experiences rather than on stuff. Experiences live in our memories much longer and give us more emotional enjoyment than things, which can quickly lose their importance. In fact, just the anticipation of planning an experience often creates happiness. And if you want to take the happiness level up a notch, take a friend along with you.

2. Exercise. The number-one strategy people can use to feel better, increase energy levels, and reduce tension is exercise. Exercising can mean spending money on a gym membership, a personal trainer, and equipment. However, exercising can also be inexpensive. Walking, for example, requires little more than a pair of good walking shoes and—at least here in South Dakota—a warm winter coat.

via Rick Kahler: Ways Money Can Buy Happiness |.

NFCC Annual Financial Literacy Survey RevealsGaps in Knowledge and Execution of Basic Personal Financial Skills

As Financial Literacy Month begins, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® NFCC today released the results of the 2014 Financial Literacy Survey conducted online in March by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. In its eighth year, the survey provides a snapshot of the American consumer’s level of knowledge as it relates to financial literacy, as well as behavioral and attitudinal trends associated with personal finance. The 2014 survey was sponsored by Experian Consumer Services.

“This year’s survey once again confirms what we already know: the need for financial education is great,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC. “Without a solid foundation on which to base everyday financial decisions, Americans are on a slippery slope as they begin to rebuild their financial lives following the Great Recession. To meet the need, the NFCC developed the three-step Sharpen Your Financial Focus™ program which provides consumers with the tools necessary to secure financial well-being. We encourage others to join this nationally driven financial education movement by supporting this initiative.”

via NFCC Annual Financial Literacy Survey RevealsGaps in Knowledge and Execution of Basic Personal Finance Skills.

Trust for special-needs child’s long term care

The heart of estate planning, for many of us, comes down to one issue: taking care of family. We do our best to make decisions that we hope will be right for surviving spouses and children.

Such decisions are especially challenging for parents of children with special needs. The question of “Who will take care of this child after we’re gone?” can be heart-wrenching.

There are financial planners who specialize in this area, and the best option for many families might be to ask a generalist planner like me for a referral to one of them. The following suggestions, then, are intended as starting points or a very general framework on which to build.

via Rick Kahler: Trust for special-needs child’s long term care |.

Mobile Trend Creates Cultural Shift in Micro Philanthropy

This is an interesting article about the way micro-philanthropy is changing through changing technology.

Steve ==========================

The mobile applications are revolutionizing the ways of charitable giving to fun, engaging and simple. Now users can engage in philanthropic deeds and have fun at the same time just by connecting to mobile.

“World Vision” has developed a mobile app called ‘My Kids,’ which is an overseas children sponsor application. The app, which was inspired by the application “Celebrity Look-Alikes,” will recognize the user’s face when the user takes or uploads a picture on to the app, and introduce a foreign child in need that resembles the user.

The users can choose the nationality and the gender of the child that they want to help, and sponsor up to 30,000 won a month, or donate 10,000 won regularly to a special overseas charity program, which provides food and clean water to those in need.

Such a trend that fuses entertainment elements with charity together through mobile technology is garnering widened awareness worldwide as well.

“Budge” is another good-will application mixed with entertaining factors which has enjoyed a steady stream of donations from users in the United States and Australia.

read the complete article here:  Mobile Trend Creates Cultural Shift in Micro Philanthropy | Be Korea-savvy.

Just Say No to Crystal Balls – Inside Information

The following is a blog by Bob Veres, one of the most respected voices in the world of financial advice.  I suggest that you pay attention to his view of those with “Crystal Balls”.

Steve ===================================

Why are we giving our attention and mindshare to things that offer nothing in return?

As I write this, the U.S. markets have been bumping against all-time highs as if they are some sort of ceiling, the emerging markets and their stocks are really struggling, oil and gas are cheap, China’s economy is facing a lot of hurdles and, well, this is exactly the opposite of a lot of what Mohammed El-Erian was predicting in his very well-written and thoughtful book “The New Normal.”

And, of course, El Erian was not alone. In the wake of 2008, it seemed like the world’s future growth would come from the countries that had the farthest to grow, and the economic model that we were familiar with would labor mightily against the forces of demographics, diminishing energy supplies and a certain ossification in the way developed nations do things. The predictions were highly-plausible–and dead wrong.

I found myself wondering about El-Erian’s return to Pimco, whether he was hired, in part, to predict the future in a very public way and gain a lot of media attention that would position his firm as a thought leader which he did very successfully.

read the complete article here: Just Say No to Crystal Balls – Inside Information.