So, I guess I'm officially blogging. People have told me for years, "You should blog!" "Your Facebook posts are so funny, do you blog?" "I love your writing, why don't you blog?"
I was unaware that the term "blog" was a verb, not just a website where I find recipes that I'll never actually cook and home projects that I will never finish, but I digress... In short, I'm blogging.
My choice to blog, came from a desire to share a secret with all of you. You see most of my Facebook friends, and likely a large portion of my "real life" friends, are probably unaware of just how much I love what I do. Now, I don't refer to it as a "job", because that insinuates that I do what I do merely to get paid. "Put food on the table" as they say. And yes, while I do get paid for what I do, at my core, I'd rather my "job" be quantified by the number of "Main Street Investors" (otherwise known as "everyday people") that I can save, as opposed to the number of dollars put in my bank account.
I recently took a Spiritual Gifts test at my church. This is a test that helps you determine what would be your greatest asset or role to the church, based on your "God Given" gifts. I was almost certain prior to taking the test, that I'd be the first person who had ever failed, and thus had zero Spiritual Gifts, but luckily God proved to be gracious once again.
Now, it's no surprise that most of these gifts, dovetail from our personality traits. I have been known to "keep it real" or "tell it how it is". Could I be a little more sympathetic or sensitive when delivering some news? Sure, I'll own that! But I do pride myself in being pretty authentic, and from that I am able to identify authenticity (or sadly inauthenticity) in others.
This carried into Spiritual Gift Number 1: Discernment-by this gift, the believer is enabled to know immediately what is motivating a person or situation.
I've been told that I'm bossy (what?), perhaps controlling at times (never!), competitive (no need, I always win!), meanwhile protective of those that I love.
So naturally Spiritual Gift Number 2: Leadership- The Greek word for the spiritual gift of leadership is proistemi. This word means to lead, to assist, to protect and to care for others. This gift is closely tied to the gift of Administration (which was of course my 4th gift).
My third Gift is what brought me here today. I don't tell this story often, because words of affirmation or praise aren't my love language (acts of service ALL day, where my perfectionist-control freaks at?!?! 🙌🏼)!
A few years ago, the current softball coach at my very small college emailed all of the alumni to let us know the program was in trouble. You see, from past debts going back 10-15 years (including the 4 years that I was on the team), the cash had run out. The athletic department was no longer willing to "front" the program the money it needed for extra Spring trips and tournaments (if you've played a sport you know trips like these are paramount for team bonding and game experience), and that they would be forced to cancel their upcoming trips if they didn't raise money FAST!
It is my personal belief that you should always leave somewhere better than how you found it. Plus I didn't think it was fair that from past transgressions and poor money management, these girls and this team should suffer, and they would have. What an awful way to start a season, having to cancel 15-20 of your games because of something as insignificant as money. Now don't get me wrong, I like money as much as the next Louis Vuitton toting gal, but in the big picture, money is only as significant as you make it.
What mattered to those girls was that season, that 15 hour bus ride to laugh and play and get to know each other off the field, so that they could really trust each other on the field. The potential to play on a field where they didn't have to shovel snow as their warmup (this is a real thing people), against amazing competition that they would never face in their own conference. I mean sure, they were probably going to lose by 15 runs, but they got to do it at Disney World, or Hawaii, or Southern California, or some other sunny fantastic place!
So I called my college classmate who works in the Athletic Department. I asked, "Kenny, how much do they need?" He was slightly taken aback, as I don't think any of the other 300 alumni had called asking that question. He gave me a total dollar amount, so I rephrased the question, "How much do you need today to let them go on this trip?" He told me half.
So that day I wrote a check for $3000 and sent it to my college softball program. For some of you, that's one meal at a nice restaurant. For others, that's more than you make in 6 months. For perspective, that was 2 months mortgage for me. It wasn't like I didn't need the money, but again, big picture... I didn't need the money, not like those girls did. My husband may not agree, but he got over it pretty quickly. Especially when we were invited to a game that Spring and he saw each and every girl come up to me and hug me for "saving" their season. That was the first time in program history the Siena Softball team went into the conference tournament as the First Place seed.
So, Spiritual Gift Number 3: Giving-Those with this gift share their own possessions with others with extraordinary generosity. While all Christians should be givers, those possessing this gift will go beyond this normal giving.
Most people see giving as a monetary measurement, and in my example above it was. But as I was thinking about this "Gift" of my work over the last week, I realized it's so much more. I have this career that I love, and it can do SO much for people. I was sitting in a conference last week and it hit me... I have done all of my friends a disservice by not sharing this gift more open and freely. Now, please don't confuse this, I am not going to be handing out $3000 checks left and right (compliance would never allow it), but I can share my passion, love, and belief for how we manage money, and in sharing that gift, hopefully help all of the people I love and lead to experience some monetary gain.
I have been holding myself back from ever really talking about what I do. I never wanted my friends or loved ones to see me as "pushy sales gal", so I left work at work, and only if someone came to me with questions or concerns regarding money, would I help them. End of story. Only it's not the end of the story, because as insignificant as $3000 was to me that year, it was VERY significant to that Athletic Department. My fear of looking good, and not being the "pushy sales gal" was holding me back from HELPING people, people that I love and care about.
Did you know that 69% of Americans have less than $1000 in their savings? Now some people will read this and think "See! The 1%! The rich get richer!", when in fact the article goes on to say it's most likely due to "people living beyond their means". Since discernment is a gift of mine, I will break that down for you... People are too worried about looking good or keeping up with the Joneses, so they spend more than they save, or worse more than they earn. Then, according to this Market Watch article, 42% of Investors don't know how their assets are allocated. I don't want to get into anymore stats and numbers with all of you via blog, but this is scary. I will leave you with this thought...
We are currently working for two lifetimes. We work to pay for our current lifestyle, but we are also working to save for our retirement lifestyle, and $1000 isn't going to cut it.
When I tell people I am a Financial Advisor, most of them shutter, or give me the biggest-fakest smile while nodding their head saying, "Oh, that's nice...", meanwhile this scene from Wolf of Wall Street is playing on repeat in their head:
I know there have been many "Financial Advisors" before me, and probably some to come after me, who aren't the most honest genuine people. I will no longer let that reputation hold me back either, because honestly, I don't consider myself an "Advisor", but a Financial Coach. We joke in our office that we don't work with people with portfolio problems, we work with portfolios with people problems! Most of these "problems" come from one of two places: 1. Lack of education and/or 2. Emotions. I will educate you on the academic principles behind managing money and your investments, I will listen to your goals, desires, and requests, and I might very likely deny one or two of your requests if it's in your best interest for me to do so. Because that's my job, to protect you from yourself and whatever is holding you back from the financial future that you have always dreamed of.
I want nothing more than to lead a group of people that I love into the best future that they can imagine for themselves. I want to help you discern if your current investments or adviser are the best fit for you and your financial goals and future. I want to give you so much coaching and knowledge on the subject, that you will want to run through the streets screaming ridiculous things like "LOVE is my true purpose for money!" (I promise I will make sense of that later should you let me.)
It was never called "The American Guarantee", it's "The American Dream." Some people say that the American Dream no longer exists, but I disagree, and it would be an honor, privilege, and possibly even a little bit of fun, to be the one to help you reach yours.
So I ask again... What's Holding You Back?
*Jamie Smith is a registered investment adviser representative of Triad Advisors.