Meg Green has been a leading financial advisor for over 40 years, and she graced us recently with a virtual session on what she calls THE RULES OF THE MONEY GAME. Each and every one of her rules is, in our opinion, undisputedly helpful and true, and they led us to a rousing conversation, both encouraging and thought-provoking, about how we all handle our financial lives. We hope you'll take the time to read and absorb them as well.
- You're ultimately in charge of your own finances like it or not. Don't abdicate the job entirely. Be a part of decisions, like you are for your health, and regard the matter as serious. Financial well-being is way up there on the ladder of happiness. Own it.
- Live within your means. You must have more money coming in the door than going out. Period. Credit cards and loans keep you in the game just so long before you stress out and/or fail. Unhealthy debt is like cancer. Money really doesn't grow on trees, and we can't print it. Don't get behind, and if you do, work hard to catch up so you can get ahead.
- Don't envy the guy with the Porsche. You have no idea what's really going on behind closed doors. It's human nature to try to keep up; it's low self-esteem that makes us need to pretend. If you can well afford it, great. Enjoy. But first, 'well afford it.' Trust me when I tell you that you want wealth in your older years. Bypass what will stand in the way of making that happen, no matter how loud the Sirens sing.
- Set realistic goals and follow a plan to reach them. Planning really works, the earlier the better. Yes, there are always trip-ups along the way. Count on it. Pick yourself up and get back on track. No pity parties. Do the best you can to keep your eye on the ball. That inheritance may be there to bail you out, but not necessarily as much as you'd wished, and not necessarily in time to retire.
- Be cautious about whom you follow for legal, tax, and financial advice. I'm partial to well-vetted professionals in all areas, and second opinions when needed. Educate yourself, even the slightest bit, to understand the advice you choose to take. If it's a legal document, don't sign without a lawyer. If you don't "get it" or agree with any advice regarding your money, speak up. If you don't get respect and/or answers, don't let the door hit you in the rear. Find the "good guys." Build your team.
- The return OF your money is more important than the return ON your money. Seriously, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be aware of when your greed or fear buttons start flashing. (We all have them.) Industries and people exist on their ability to push them. Be forewarned and aware. Discipline and knowledge can be your armor, and this is where a trusted advisor can become your superhero... by talking you off the ledge. Get opinions!
- Diversify, Diversify, Diversify. Never have too many eggs in one basket. When it comes to your investment portfolio, your risk increases the less you diversify, as does the potential for reward. If you must, do it when you're young enough to recoup, just in case. Recovery's wretched when you're older. Wealth, once you have any, needs to be tended like a garden, not ridden like a stallion.
- You cannot change another's money personality; you can just change how to deal with it. Cheap is always cheap. Silly spenders have other issues. So do gamblers. Entitlement is ingrained, and envy runs deep. Recognizes whose financial wheels you're tied to and act accordingly. Protect yourself, if need be. Don't be the financial enabler hoping for change, be it an adult child or partner. Repeat line one.
- Know when enough is enough. It doesn't take millions to be rich. Rich is when you have more than enough after-tax income to live the life you want to live, with plenty of back up for splurges and calamities, and continued savings if you're still working. Now if you want to own your own jet, multiple houses, and yachts, then millions are in order. But if you're grounded and happy with the possibilities within reach, no matter what lifestyle you're living, then I contend you're finally rich. And I congratulate you on winning the money game.
Meg Green is Founder and former CEO of Meg Green & Associates, Inc., one of the leading wealth management firms in the nation. Founded in 1984, the firm is an ensemble of experienced, long term and dedicated professionals, now under the leadership of Todd Battaglia, President and CEO and Meg’s long term partner. The team manages over $750 million dollars for their clients, which consist mostly of wealthy individuals, families and small businesses. Meg has always espoused the value added aspect of wealth management, taking care of the wealthy, not just their wealth, to which the firm strongly adheres.
Meg has also had a multiyear career in the media, from talking about money on WIOD radio and NBC for many years, to answering readers’ questions in her Miami Herald column called Money Dilemmas. She appeared regularly on CNBC’s Closing Bell to discuss the financial markets. Her exposure in the media provides the general public with financial advice to help improve their lives, which is a legacy Meg embraces. Her many charitable activities are also commitments she covets, especially to mentor others and “send the elevator back down” for all those aspiring to succeed in business and life.
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