How to Get Out of a Financial Rut

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

If you want to change your financial attitude and get out of a financial rut, there are three steps you can take to get it done once and for all.

First, think back to your childhood. When you were growing up, your mom and dad had a thing or two to say about who you spent time with. Right? It may have made you angry at the time, but it turns out that they were on to something.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, self-made millionaire and internationally successful author

The other night I read a story about Tim Ferriss of “The 4 Hour Work Week” fame. When he was only 12 years old, somebody read him that quote and it had a deep impact on young Tim. He thought about the kids he was hanging around and understood very clearly that he didn’t want to be influenced by them anymore. The little guy couldn’t get this concept out of his mind, so after a few days he went to his mom and dad and asked them to send him to private school, which they did.

Those years in private school got him on track to excel in high school, get serious and find some weekend work. He got it together and eventually went to Princeton. He became an all-American wrestler, a national kickboxing champion and a super successful entrepreneur – all by the tender age of 23.

So when your parents told you not to hang out with the wrong kids, it was because they knew that if you did, you’d become one of them. And if that was good advice for you growing up, it’s good advice for you now. In short, if you’re at University and hanging around kids who are flunking out, you aren’t going to become the next Einstein.

So to get out of a financial rut, start by spend time with people you want to be like:

1. Make a list of the people you spend most of your time with.

financial attitude

Who do you work with?

Who do you go out to lunch with? Who do you spend your free time with?

2. What qualities do you admire about these people?

Are they smart? Generous? Healthy? Fit? Helpful? Do they read? Are they active in the community? Are they positive? Are they productive? Successful? Do they have good financials?

3. What qualities do you dislike about the people you spend time with?

Are they selfish? Poor role models? Do they neglect themselves spiritually, emotionally, financially or physically? How do they treat their children? How do they treat the server in the restaurant? Are they irresponsible with money? Do they fail to fulfill their obligations?

In short, are they schlubs?

Once you’ve made a thorough assessment of the people in your life, be conscious about who you spend your time with because you will become like them.

Be proactive about those you spend your time with.

financial attitude
If you decide you need to “upgrade” your social circle, be selective. Just because an old acquaintance invites you out to lunch doesn’t mean you have to accept and it doesn’t mean you have to reciprocate. Wean yourself away from the people who drag you down.

If you need to find a new gang, it isn’t tough to find new people to break bread with.

You can find successful and interesting people everywhere. Get active where you attend religious services. Join professional associations and go to conferences. Volunteer at your kid’s school. Go to lectures and retreats.

My wife and I have met wonderful people through our children. When they were young and brought home nice kids, we made a point of getting to know their parents. In many cases, we made lifelong friends. At the same time, we stopped making plans with older friends if we realized they were complainers, they had no vision and generally, they didn’t have much to offer socially.

Have you ever “upgraded” your social circle? How did it impact your family life? Did it have any financial impact?

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt February 23, 2014 at 1:40 PM

I wonder if this applies based on set criteria such as financial, intellectual, physical or is it cumulative? (Only the top 5 people that you hang out with)?

Reply

Neal Frankle, CFP ® February 25, 2014 at 12:09 AM

Interesting question Matt. I believe it’s a function of the amount of time you spend with certain people. If you spend 90% with one person for example, that’s the person who will most influence you. The other 4 may just not matter. What do you think?

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