Three of America’s wealthiest counties are located in Northern Virginia. With the arrival of Amazon, that number could rise – creating opportunities for many people and financial challenges for others.

For those who see more challenges than opportunities, we understand intimately. To help our own families, we have developed a three-part strategy to change how you see money, plan for your financial future, and create processes to reduce how much fear influences your decision-making. 

The first and most important step is to examine how you view money. Are you the architect of your future or are others influencing your decisions? “People’s relationship with money is often very fear-based,” said financial coach and Ortus Academy co-founder Aaron Velky. “This fear leads us to react emotionally to financial decisions instead of understanding that money is a tool – and each of us is the architect.”

Fear is the opposite of joy, and it is as destructive as joy is fruitful. Fear makes us powerless – whether because of external factors like discrimination or a bad childhood, or internal factors like personal failure or limitations. Each of us will feel fear and powerlessness during our lives. But we also have the ability to choose whether these circumstances last a moment or a lifetime. 

“Each person’s financial goals are unique to them,” said John Inscoe, author of the forthcoming personal empowerment book Three Pillars of Success. “Success comes from defining exactly what that means to you in each area of your life and developing the skills necessary to achieve that success.”

The biggest part of turning resolution into reality is refusing to let negative emotions influence the ability to get started or keep going. The remedy? Inscoe says we need facts to overcome fears so that uncertainties become understanding. Without understanding, we are like reeds in the wind – but through understanding, we can turn doubt into direction, and direction turns into step-by-step accomplishment. 

Facts are the second step of turning today’s financial aspirations into concrete successes. How do you spend, save, and invest your money? Do you need to earn more to have the life you desire? Most Americans save less than eight percent of our incomes, totaling only a few thousand dollars in reserves – what should your savings be? Will you send your children to expensive four-year schools, or consider community college as a financially viable educational option? How do you balance your day-to-day spending needs with investment goals, and do you consider creative options to life and health insurances which will save you thousands of dollars while fully providing for your family’s needs?

Knowing the facts about your current situation will help you design the right path to your financial goals. Otherwise, you’re just guessing, and probably failing. 

The third step to success is to continually assess your goals and process. Perhaps you will discover that your goal is unattainable – do you need to earn more, invest more, or change your goal? If you are out of work for a time, is your goal still doable, and if so, what needs to change to still accomplish it?

Whether you are in the top 1% or in the bottom 50% of earners, the process for success is the same. Start with the end in mind and work back to where you are now. Where do you want to be in 50, 40, 25, 10, or five years? By starting with the end in mind, you can begin to build your personally perfect financial future. And whatever the future holds, just remember: you are always the self-empowered architect of your personal American Dream.

A 2019 Washingtonian Top Financial Advisor, Jason Howell is President of the financial advisory firm Jason Howell Company and author of Joy of Financial Planning. Dustin Siggins is CEO of the publicity firm Proven Media Solutions and an InsideNova columnist. 

(1) comment


Step 5: Avoid NOVA. The place is ridiculous.

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