Imagine a world that is free of financial concerns. A place where all essential needs are easily provided and there is no debt or financial hardship. You would have total freedom of choice in what you do, where you go and what material possessions you choose to surround you. Here, everything is in abundance and there is no concept of greed, poverty, scarcity or crime.
In this world, envy is unheard of. Everyone has everything they could possibly need or want, and everyone knows and believes they deserve it. No-one has to take more than their share. Goods and services are traded fairly and for full value. There are no economic slumps, recessions, depressions or inflations.
So what is preventing us from creating this society here and now? In western countries, 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the population and in other cultures these percentages can swing even more widely in favour of the rich.
The creation of wealth is an achievable goal for everyone. It is now, and it always will be. It is only our conditioning: social, parental, educational and, to a large degree, emotional, that prevents us from being wealthy. There is nothing natural about being poor. It goes against the very tides of nature to have less than what we need to lead happy, successful lives.
Making money is simple. You do not need to be a financial wiz-kid, a stock market expert, a banker, an accountant or a rocket scientist to become rich. All you need is a certain amount of dedication, a reasonable amount of patience, a good strategy and the discipline to stay with it. In essence, you need a well defined program or system that prevents you from going off the rails.
There are approximately six stages of financial management. To master each stage and move on to the next, we need to apply certain strategies. Each stage has its own strategies, or rules. Follow the rules for the stage you are in and you cannot go wrong. Break the rules and you may fail. These stages are natural to success and when you understand them and apply the right strategies, you cannot fail. It is simple and it works.
There may also be times when we cannot break out of a financial rut. If you find yourself repeatedly having the same financial problems, you are probably doing something wrong. Correct that behaviour and your position will improve, ignore it and your situation will stay the same – or become worse.
To understand the natural stages of growth, we simply need to observe nature. Seeds germinate, then the seedlings emerge, the plant grows, buds appear and flowers develop. The different stages need different cultivation, fertilisation, watering and different climatic conditions. You plant daffodils in autumn. The colder months of winter help germinate the bulbs and they flower in spring. You cannot change the system. The rules are in place. Follow the guidelines and you will have a magnificent harvest.
As with nature, we first need to plant the seed for wealth creation, water it, fertilise it and wait for it to grow. We need to weed out the negative habits that can interfere with our harvest. We need patience and dutiful care. There are times when we can be extravagant and times to economise. If we carefully cultivate our finances, we can sit back and watch them grow and flourish.
I first learnt about the benefits of understanding the different stages of growth whilst studying for my accounting degree. In one of my management subjects, we studied the ‘Learning Ladder’ or the stages of Conscious/Competent Learning. It was discovered that when presented with a new area of learning, people naturally progressed through various stages.
The first stage, Unconscious/Incompetent, marks the beginning of any new endeavour or experience. You are ‘unconscious’ because, at this point, you don’t know what is involved or what you have to do, and ‘incompetent’ because you don’t know how to do it yet. This is usually a stress-free time. For example, you have just been told you were successful in getting that new job. You feel happy and elated. You have no idea of what is involved or how to do it. This is a particularly carefree time.
When you start the new job, you enter Stage 2, Conscious/Incompetence. All of a sudden stress appears. You are now ‘conscious’ of the fact that you don’t know what to do, and anxiety increases.
A few weeks into the new job and you have learnt what to do. However, you still have to concentrate, or remain conscious, on every task to ensure that you are doing it correctly. This is Stage 3, Conscious/Competence. This is still a stressful time.
Finally, you have mastered the tasks within the job. You know the job backwards. You don’t have to think about what to do next. It is easy and stress-free. This is Stage 4, Unconscious/Competence.
In learning any new skill, whether it’s driving a car or learning to play a guitar, you will automatically progress through these four stages. However, because of the stress factor of stages 2 and 3, this is the time when people are most likely to fail or drop out. If there was something that you have tried to master but failed – look back. Did you give up too soon?
And so it is with managing money. Many of us have simply given up too soon. We may have had a difficult job; left and taken a lesser paid one, only to resign ourselves to earning less money. Or maybe we struck financial hardship and just surrendered to the belief that this was our lot in life. We may have started going into debt and instead of being proactive, used more debt to try to recover – burying ourselves deeper and deeper into financial crisis.
To have more money, we need to understand the various stages of wealth creation and become proactive in managing these stages. This means to commit to a positive course of action and being prepared to devote a certain level of effort and time to it.