Sunday, July 25, 2010

Part II The Fundamentally Flawed More Personal Financial Planning Model/Heuristic

The Fundamentally Flawed More Personal Financial Planning Model
Part II

If some is good, more is better.
Anonymous


In more personal financial planning, the planner manipulates our assets. By analogy, the more vacation planner decides if we are going to vacation in Bozeman or Stowe, Des Moines or Paris. If the planner decides on Paris, he's going to be using very different investment strategies than if he decides on Des Moines. The planner selects what train to put us on, and we hope that we're at least getting a bargain for our money. We may end up in Stowe, Vermont in the winter instead of frying rainbow trout in Big Sky country, where we really wanted to be. But we did have a great express train ride didn't we? And it really was a bargain, wasn't it? Certainly it must have been better than Des Moines, although I've never been there. Too bad we don't ski.

Things not worth doing, are not worth doing well.
Evel Knievel

Actually, this example is about the best scenario I can imagine. What if the planner decides to try for the Paris trip, and our high‑risk investment goes belly up? We stay home. In fact, we may not take a vacation for a very long time.
The Case Against More

Most people wouldn't even think of using more vacation planning as I have described it. Yet almost everyone uses more personal financial planning. Our vacation is too special and important to let others decide for us a personal decision involving our values. Our life goals are far more special and important; yet we spend far more time planning our vacation than our financial objectives and willingly trust others to be stewards to manage our resources as they see fit. Our vacation plans come from inside us, not outside in; our life goals should also come from inside‑out. Each individual must decide on life objectives, based on empirically‑validated values. Yet, here again, most of us allow strangers to manage our assets with very little thought to achieving our objectives.

More personal financial planning will even get some people, albeit by accident, where they want to be. But more takes the personal out of Apersonal financial planning. We wouldnt let a travel agent select our vacation, and yet most of us readily let more personal financial planners select the train, the track and the destination of our resources. But what good is a fast train that isn't going where we want to go? As Eric Hoffer said, You can never get enough of what you don't need. If our vacation is special and important and personal, how much moreso are our life goals? More doesn't work for vacation planning and it doesn't work for financial planning.

What has happened is that in our society, our objectives have become disconnected from our resources. We are trying to manage our resources, trying to get more, without knowing or even caring what more is for. We just know that we want more. Our travel has been disconnected from our vacation and we're endlessly riding the train. How do we stop? If we haven't defined goals, how will we know when we have enough? We have gotten on the fast track to acquiring more for the sake of more. We are accelerating, unable to steer, unsure of the destination, yet crying, Faster, faster! as we derail.

Striving for more things leads to the realization that you can never fulfill yourself from the outside.
Dr. Wayne Dyer


Look at the figures in the margin. The first is a fluctuating line. It represents a high‑risk strategy for getting more. It might be a win it, lose it, win it, lose it entrepreneur, a chart of performance at a blackjack table in Las Vegas or performance of a volatile stock. The box represents an objective. In more personal financial planning, strategies come first. Then we attempt to retrofit the strategies to the goals. Notice that sometimes the performance exceeds the need of the objective, and sometimes the strategy falls below it. These two figures represent the bungee‑jumping method of personal financial planning.

If it so easy to see the insanity of more vacation planning, why is it so difficult to see the faults of more financial planning? Part of the answer lies in Thomas Paine's observation about doing the wrong thing for so long that it appears right. Part of the answer lies in our society's incessant indoctrination of consumerism. Part of the answer also lies in the cultural links between more, good and our sense of worthiness.

Our Cultural Bias for More

Our culture has a built‑in linguistic bias in favor of the concept of more. Words like more‑ality and social more‑s suggest that the more we have, the better we are, in both spiritual and financial terms. By middle age, we have read 50,000 ads and seen 350,000 television commercials all about dis‑satisfaction, about wanting more. Let's briefly explore the disturbing and persistent connection between monetary and spiritual values in our vocabulary. Worth, worthy, worthiness, worthwhile all connote ethical values, but we also link them with the financial term net worth. Is a person with little net worth to be considered worthless? In our society worthless doesn't mean without assets, it means Ano good.

God and good are etymologically linked in many languages. In Middle and Old English, for example, both words were spelled god. But good and god are also linked to tangible assets in the phrase goods and services. Are we less or more good morally because we have less or more goods?

What does more mean? It is virtually impossible to define except in relative terms. It is a moving target, like the horizon or a rainbow, that continually recedes from us. Yet as a culture, we suffer from a collective sense of urgency to acquire more, to capture the pot of gold we hope lies under the rainbow. Most of us believe deeply that more means growth, progress, improvement C in short, that more is inherently good. The logical extension of that argument is Midas, who gained more at every touch, but starved to death in his world of solid gold. Seeking more when we already have enough is akin to continuing to pour tea into a cup that is already full. When the cup is full, our strategies must change. But first we must individually create our individual definition of enough.

Unfortunately, most of don't know when our cup is full. The adjective and the noun content both derive from the Latin cognate meaning to contain. We should be content when we are full, when our cup has its full contents. Therefore, we need to understand what enough is for us. Otherwise we may pour more and more into the overflowing cup, spilling out our resources and indeed our very lives. The result? More actually becomes less! (Subtraction by addition.)

The less I had to get, the more I got.
Dr. Dean Ornish


In its most basic etymology, content means held in or held together. The contents of a full cup of tea are held in by the cup. It doesn't make sense to pour in more tea, because more cannot be contained in the full cup. Pouring water into an already filled cup will only spill the contents. More becomes less. This is the less‑on of subtraction by addition. It also doesn't make sense to use a cup which leaks. In ENOUGH, each one of us learns what is plenty, what the cup will hold. Then we attempt to protect those contents in a cup whose leaks are minimized or prevented. ENOUGH is the alignment of personal goals and values (the cup) with our resources (the tea).

In our culture more is addictive, actually limiting our choices. We use more motivation to keep score or because we like the action, or because we feel more worthy. In the words of William James, In our quest for having, we lose our freedom. As more becomes less, we become have beens. More has become the master, not the servant. And Alan Durning, In the final analysis, accepting and living by sufficiency rather than excess offers a return to what is, culturally speaking, the human home: to the ancient order of family, community, good work and good life.

Because more is so closely linked with our sense of inner worth, the alternative paradigm ENOUGH will not be easily established:

. . . the more important the old concept of reality is to a person, the more important it is to his sense of self‑esteem and sense of inner worth , the more tenaciously he will hold on to the old concept and the more insistently he will assimilate, ignore or reject new evidence that conflicts with his old and familiar concept of the world. This behavior is particularly common among very bright people because they can so easily develop and articulate self‑persuasive logic to justify the conclusions they want to keep.
Charles D. Ellis, The Loser's Game

The Ladder to More

When I was a young man, we had 10 cows and we did very well. When I was 30, we had 20 cows and we did not do better. When I was 40, we were barely making it. Now I'm 70. We have 70 cows and we are not making it at all.
Anonymous.

To illustrate the difference between more and ENOUGH, I have developed Aladders@ for the more and the ENOUGH approaches. The more ladder illustrates the endless pursuit for more, based at least in part on the false impression that we are as more‑ally worthy as we are net worth‑y. The ladder for ENOUGH, by contrast, illustrates the aspiration for personal financial wellness as defined by personal life goals and values.

One compelling stimulus to prod us up the more ladder is a dualistic thinking; if I'm not getting more then I must be getting less; if I'm not better, I must be worse; if I'm not good, I must be bad. We are prodded up this ladder just as the train master steered us to our vacation destination. External forces are controlling, steering us, forcing us to stay on track. We are forced to climb rung after rung because we are convinced that more is better.

Shame is the glue that holds the more philosophy together. We accept the dualistic premise that more is good, therefore less is bad. If we are useful, of service, functional - we are right. Today's currency is being right and not being wrong. If we do what is useful, we are right (we get an A) and we are righteous (originally, right‑use‑ness). We feel worthless when we are worth less, so we pursue more. If we get more, we are better; if not, we are worse. Notice how the pernicious process drives us on and on. We feel guilty when we do badly. If I'm not right, I must be wrong, and therefore I feel shame.

As we climb the more ladder, money and external values coincide. I must be useful, or I am useless. (And doesn't everyone want to be useful?) If I am useful, then I am right and righteous. (Notice how more‑ality creeps in?). If I am right and get more, then I am better and a winner. If I do not continue to get more then I get less and I am both worth less and worthless. If I get more, then I am better (if I don't, I'm worse). If I'm better, I'm a winner - not a loser- and winners are good and godly - not bad or evil.

Since there are only two choices offered on the more ladder (more/less; better/worse), we perceive the only sensible choice to be to continue upwards for more and more. Staying on the more financial ladder is really an excuse for avoiding the awkward question, What now?Why am I accumulating more? What are my goals and values? As long as I am on the more ladder, someone must be admiring my accomplishments; someone must think that I'm good and successful. Some day I'll decide on my values and make a commitment to achieve them. For now, just one more time, I want more, even though I don't really know what more is! Isn't that what junkies and compulsive gamblers say? In our quest to be right, good or worthy we succumb to the dictatorship of more.

The poor rich. All they have is money.
Tom Moore

more, more, more what the hell are we all,
morticians?
e. e. cummings


The late humorist George Carlin has developed a comic routine that nicely parallels my more ladder. I've adapted it, calling it the Full of Stuff Ladder. If you are useful and right, you have the right stuff. If you have more, you have double stuff (like the Oreos with double filling). More is better upscale stuff. If you are better you are a winner and you can strut your stuff. If you are a winner, you are good - hot stuff. If you are good, you are god‑ly, and full of stuff.

More Personal Financial Planners

To be culturally consistent, most of the personal financial planners I know sell Amake more, save more. Consequently, I term these planners more‑ons. Personal financial planning, as generally practiced, is merely financial planning applied to personally‑held assets rather than to the client. As a result, the client's goals are overlooked and the client often becomes a casualty. Why? Because they practice personal financial planning from the outside in rather than from the inside out. ENOUGH personal financial planning is an evocative process eliciting values from the client (literally, evocative means calling out of) rather than cramming pre‑packaged Astuff@ into the client. In personal financial planning, one size does not fit all.

I'm not even sure what I want, but that's not the point. It's that I want it right now!
Elvis Costello

End of Part II

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Part I More vs Enough A Primer

More Versus ENOUGH


Rich is knowing you have enough.
Kruger, Emotional Business

The cost of a thing is the amount of life which must be exchanged for it.
Thoreau

It is time to start planning for the family vacation. What do you do? Do you consider options, weighing the merits and trade‑offs of each plan? Do you consider the opportunity your vacation will provide for you to enjoy favorite activities? Do you consider modes of transportation? The costs? What the vacation offers the kids? Do you attempt to align your budget with your vacation goals and then make revisions and consider the options again? Once you have decided on a vacation, do you marshall your personal finances, saving for the trip even if it means postponing buying that new set of golf clubs or programmable VCR to bring your vacation goal to realization? Do you ever consult a travel agent to determine costs and compare accommodations? If so, congratulations. You are an ENOUGH vacation planner. ENOUGH vacation planners begin with vacation goals, and then align those goals with their personal resources. Almost everyone, to some degree, is an ENOUGH vacation planner.

Are You Doing ENOUGH Financial Planning?

Most of us are good vacation planners because we determine clear objectives and then plan for them. What about our financial planning? How well have we identified our life goals and financial objectives and planned for them? In the following exercise, the Personal Financial Planning Audit, you will be able to assess how well you have attained specific financial goals. Mark N/A for those categories which do not apply to you. A rating of 1 might mean that you have made no provisions to protect your ability to earn an income in the event of disability. A 5 might mean that you have provided for about half of your income to be replaced, and a 10 could mean that you have protected your entire income in the event of total disability.

When you have completed the audit, circle the ten categories that are most important to you. Then add the score for these ten items. Score:

90‑100 points A
80‑89 points B
70‑79 points C
60‑69 points D
59 or fewer points oops

If you scored an A, congratulations! You are one of the few people I=ve ever met who does not need this book. Give it to a friend.

If you are still reading, you either need this book or you are ignoring my advice. If you want to ignore my advice, go ahead. You paid for the book and can read it if you want to. But I'm assuming that you need this book. In fact, as you work your way through these pages and activities, I am confident that you will discover how much you need it. One of the most interesting activities I do with my clients is to have them complete another Personal Financial Planning Audit after we have gone completely through the ENOUGH personal financial planning process. When you have completed this book, I invite you to repeat this audit. You may be in for a surprise!

Do You Want More?

If you want more, you need this book. I'm not going to tell you how to get more. Instead, I'm going to show you how you can define, in your own terms, what is enough. Once you understand the concept of ENOUGH, you won't have as much anxiety about more.
Case Study:
One November Morning

Note: I have included case studies throughout this book to illustrate a point or concept. If you are task‑oriented and want to move rapidly through the workbook, you may skip these stories, anecdotes and real‑life examples. However, these case studies add an extra dimension of depth and experience to the more expository text. I recommend that you find an appropriate time to read these case studies, a time when you have some moments to be introspective and thoughtful.

It is a leisurely November Sunday morning. We're alone, just my wife and I. The house is strangely quiet since the kids have gone off to college. It's misty and cold outside, barely above freezing, and a trace of snow remains on the ground. I've finished my third cup of coffee; Beth is looking out the window, sipping her Celestial Seasonings tea (Sleepy Time, I think). The window pane is misty with condensation and she draws a tic‑tac‑toe design in the mist.

I sense that something is troubling her. She has been quiet all morning. Is anything wrong? I ask.

No, nothing. Something in that nothing@ says something.

Was it something I did?

Silence. Then abruptly, Beth answers, No, it wasn't you.

Now I'm sure something is wrong. Have I forgotten a birthday? Worse? I scan my catalog of essential dates. Nothing. I badger Beth: Was it something I said? Tell me what is the matter, Beth.

Damnable silence again. But I=m almost afraid to hear what she might have to say.

It was nothing you did, she said quietly, resigned, turning from the tic‑tac‑toe on the window.
I . . . I just wanted . . . more.

What is More?

You will soon discover in this book that you will be defining important concepts like more and ENOUGH according to your own values and standards. In the following exercise, spend two or three minutes filling in the circles with words you associate with more. This activity is called clustering, and is your personal brainstorming session to establish some of your thoughts and attitudes. What do you think of when you think of more?

What is ENOUGH?

Now do the same clustering exercise for ENOUGH. What do you associate with the word enough?
You will have occasion to refer back to these clusters several times as you progress through this book. For now, compare the two clusters and make your own observations and conclusions.

Do You Want to Know How to Manage Your Assets?

If so, you really need this book. I'm not going to show you how to manage your assets. That's what the other guys do. Bookstores are filled with advice on managing money. I am going to show you how to manage your objectives. Once you have determined your objectives, and aligned them with your personal resources, you may want to direct a personal financial planner to provide technical advice to help you buy (but certainly not to be sold). It's okay if the personal financial planner helps to row the boat, but you have to steer.

Why Do We Need a Book on ENOUGH?

That=s a very good question. Answering that question is what this book is all about. You will have a pretty good answer to the question when you have finished this chapter. By the time you have finished your personal prospectus in chapter four, you will have developed your own definition of enough, with thorough empirical knowledge of your personal goals. If you want an answer right now, consider five points:

1. We need a book on ENOUGH because:

The world is too much with us . . .
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Little we see in Nature that is ours.
Wordsworth

2. We need a book on ENOUGH because we have been hypnotised by the allure of more and because we think that more is, by definition, better. Ironically, as you will soon discover, more is often less.

3. We need a book on ENOUGH because it helps us to examine our life, and as Socrates said, The unexamined life is not worth living. The examined life can be re‑aligned.

4. We need a book on ENOUGH to reduce anxiety. In a 1986 survey, research firm D'Arcy Masius Benton Bowes reported that the number one cause of stress for Americans is financial concerns.

5. We need a book on ENOUGH because we work 2,000 hours or more every year earning money and devote almost no time to keeping it.




Try this exercise:
How old are you? _____

How many years have you worked full‑time? _____

How many hours have you worked? _____
(2080 hours is the standard American work year.)

Now, how many hours have you spent keeping what you have worked so hard to earn (keeping defined as determining your financial objectives and then formulating plans to meet them)?
_____

Now, the important question, which only you can answer B Do you need this book?
_____

What is Misdirected About More?

Let=s imagine that five events are about to occur in your life. By each one, mark a A+ if the event gives you more.

1. 50 percent increase in salary. more? _____

2. Job promotion. more? _____

3. Free vacation. more? _____

4. Offer of partnership in a company. more? _____

5. A cup of tea (favorite drink). more? _____

Did you put a plus sign by all of the above? Maybe the cup of tea wasn't such a great event, but the others were pretty good, weren't they? Let's look at them a little more closely. What if your 50‑percent increase in salary meant that you had to change from a job you really enjoyed and found worthwhile to one that you detested, or where the cost of living was much higher? What if the job promotion meant moving where your child will suffer from her asthma? What if accepting the free vacation would burden you with tax liabilities, or force you to listen to four hours of a time‑sharing sales pitch? What if the partnership risks your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit where the plaintiff prevails? What if you already have a full cup of tea and more will only cause the excess to spill onto your lap?

The point? Accumulating more for more=s sake can be foolish at best and destructive at worst. In the words of Edward Abbey, Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. Assets have value only as they enable us to achieve our goals. The increase in salary may not offset our deeply‑held belief in the purpose of our work. The benefits of the job promotion and vacation must be weighed against our personal values and our resources. Are we willing to put our home at risk to accept a partnership that might make us rich (or poor)? Even the cup of tea offer has to be weighed against what we have; and in this example, a full cup is enough. More only gets us burned and wet.

By definition, more means addition. Let's consider some examples of more addition.

1. There once was a boy who asked his Zen master how he could learn more. The master handed the boy a cup and began pouring tea. The cup filled and began to overflow, but he continued pouring, as the tea spilled onto the boy's lap. Finally the boy exclaimed, Master, you cannot pour any more tea into the cup! The Zen master smiled and replied, AYou must then empty your cup.

2. What about the doctor who has so over‑financed his retirement, at the expense of other goals, that he has to work a full schedule through age 59 1/2 just because he didn=t know what was enough for retirement?

3. Two people enter a supermarket and win a 10‑minute shopping spree. Shopping carts are lined up for them to use and the manager starts the clock. The first person races up and down the aisles, grabbing everything in sight, enjoying the frantic orgy of greed. The other person spends two minutes writing down favorite foods, some steak and lobster (won't Dad be happy!), Sara Lee cherry cheese cake and Häagen Daz chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. Fresh corn on the cob and let=s not forget the Macadamia nuts. When 10 minutes are up, the first woman has four shopping carts spilling over, one entirely filled with steaks (she will now have to rent a freezer), another with expensive stuff from the delicatessen section. (Too bad nobody in the family likes caviar, pate or smoked sturgeon.) The second woman still has room in the first cart. But she is already planning a dream meal for the family. Which person is most likely to regret that she didn't get more? Which woman most likely perceived that she got enough?

4. What about the woman who gets a 15‑percent pay raise, but has to work every Saturday in addition to her 40‑hour week? True, she gets more, but it cost 20 percent more time for 15 percent more money.
5. What about the man who risks his achieved financial objectives on the chance to get more, by putting up his personal guarantee for his college friend's venture? The investment might double his money, or he could lose it all, sacrificing what he needed for what he didn't.

Yes, more can be a kind of fatal addition. The result is that the roulette wheel of more may become less; it may even cause us to lose everything. Or, the desire for more without our even understanding what more is, may lead us to the sadness of Beth, who just wanted more.

The more we have the less we are.
C Eckhart

more means nothing without a context. That context should be our personal goals and values. Most of us are accomplished vacation planners because we start with goals and work our way through a process of evaluation to aligning our vacation goal with our personal resources. That is exactly what we should do in our personal financial planning: align our personal goals with our personal resources. Yet we use a very different model for financial planning than for vacation planning.
PartI

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Vs Enough: The Less of Dropping Trowel

More vs Enough: aka Dropping Trowel

“I don’t see how more becomes less”

When I did workshops, I demonstrated, using my green thumb, how more better, now became ‘worse, less, and later.’
Necessary for the demonstration was:

· a willing volunteer (preferably a doubting ‘more-on’
· two fistfuls of dirt
· a sprinkling can
· a towel
· a trowel

The demonstrated proceeded as follows:

1. I’d ask the volunteer to put out both hands – into each I would put a good size lump of dirt with the trowel
2. I would sprinkle water onto the dirt in one hand – till it absorbed.
3. Then I would continue to sprinkle water until it became mud
4. Not satisfied, I would continue to sprinkle water until the mud itself was liquid –running through the volunteers
5. Being the kind gentle normal person I am I would then offer my assistance with towel to dry off the first hand
6. Next I would sprinkle water on the dirt in the second hand and stop as soon as it was absorbed by the dirt without it becoming mud or dripping.

I then would turn to the audience and ask (which still stunned and no one would answer), “what is the moral of this demonstration?”

And the moral of the demonstration I would finally tell them, is: more vs enough, more, better, now has a way of becoming less, worse, and later slipping through your fingers.

The response was always an ‘aha’ as if the light went on.

Thus, the ‘less-on’ of ‘more vs enough’ aka trowel and error OR ‘dropping trowel.’

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Original Incompletion & More vs Enough


As this world was created incomplete, so was man.
Original Incompletion.
Man’s assignment is to continue to complete himself (becoming more godly) via his ‘soul curriculum’ and, in doing so, complete the world (spiritualize the material) for re-ascension.

But this incompletion intensifies the fear of extinction causing man to seek physical immortality, in effect, to be God (a quest as old as Babel as new as Richard Branson). The principle strategy to achieve this immortality to extinguish the fear of bodily extinction (or at least palliate it) is acquisition (‘Cain’ as in Cain & Abel, Wells’ Citizen Kane, or Countrywide’s Chairman of the Board).
Acquisition is the framework/filter of action, whether in crass Duddy Kravitz conniving or genteel academic cut throat smiles (least I be redundant) that is fear rather than faith driven. Some Judaic thought finds faith – not courage – to be the opposite of fear as courage is a derivative of faith.
Derived from acquisition compounded by the incorrect feelings of defect/deficiency of incompletion is the never ending ‘if only’ More.
And of course, one ‘more,’ one ‘if only’ solved, another ‘if only,’ ‘more’ is promoted as acquisition cannot buy immortality (though a few vanity monuments).

Where there is no flour, there is no Torah; where there is no Torah there is no flour.
Talmud saying

Enough balances this material short visit and its exigencies of daily material life in dialectic with faith and remembering our assignment to continue to complete our incompletions. Enough, in and of itself, requires the courage of faith in the face of the daily surrounding tsunami framework of ‘More.’
(The irony is, in time, More becomes less – “more, better, now becomes less, worse, later” and that’s the less-on. Furthermore, as one Rabbi stated, ‘the more possessions, the more worries’ but that’s another story.)
The Enough framework frees man from running up the down escalator of ‘more’ while meeting the requirements of material life during one’s short stay.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What Is ENOUGH?

What Is ENOUGH(SM)?

More-ons - a LESS-on.

The question is, what is enough?

For some, there is never enough
For others, enough is not being beholden
For most, enough is not taking 'crap' - having to compromise principles
For others (though not explicitly said) it is 'FUability'(c)

The ENOUGH (SM), I prefer:

  • healing financial anxiety,
  • putting money in its place,
  • to continue to proceed/transcend to one’s significance - what one is meant to do and meant to be.

ENOUGH to live on: ENOUGH to live for.

Make your lives new again, as they use to be
Lamentations 5:21:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The More (More-on) Inclination

The More Inclination

More (to be unsatisfied) is built into the system. (We are) enslaved with never being satisfied. Thus, ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.’
Paraphrasing Rabbi Gershon Winkler

Soloman said, ‘if you have 100 (wives), you’ll want 200.’ Yes, like the evil inclination and the good inclination, there is a More Inclination or proclivity. But this More-onic inclination is not irreversible – but rather a tendency reinforced by habit, limitation, restriction, (Mitzrareim - Hebrew for Egypt means restriction, limitation, narrow places). This more inclination is a ‘nes’ temptation to struggle for an exodus (from being a Moron) while moving toward closer to Shaddai (G-d, G-d Alm-ghty, Enough).

The More Inclination is derived from the primary delusional strategy of man to avoid extinction – acquisition (Cain in Hebrew = acquisition). While acquisitions offer palliation, at some point, each incremental acquisition costs more and more yields less and less palliation (the less-on). This acquisition offers little satisfaction even less peace and yet man seeks ‘more’ repeating this tautological inanity like a whirling dervish.

But just as there is a ‘good inclination’ (yatzer tov) – there is also an ‘enough’ inclination (yatzer dai?) offsetting tendency to the prevalent ‘more’ inclination’ (yatzer moron) hidden dormant awaiting. Enough is like a muscle that hasn’t been exercised in 10 years while the yatzer moron inclination gets daily, hourly workouts. At first, the enough muscle gets very sore, and one, in spontaneous recovery, reverts to the ‘mean’ of the ‘more inclination.’ Further’more’, when one realizes ‘enough’ economically, enough (the yatzer dai inclination) causes the further distress/tsuris of ‘what next, what now?’ at 2:00A.M when nothing is on cable except F Troop reruns and Joan Rivers’ pitching natural make up.

The what next, what nows often cannot be dealt. Result: reversion to the more inclination rationalized as ‘I can create jobs,’ ‘creating more for others,’ adventuresome capital, political forays – avoiding the what next, the what nows – of enough as well as evading/dodging ‘for better or worse, but not for lunch’ with the spouse one is driving crazy.

The realization of enough financially – minimizing the financial anxiety so one can transcend to significance - can always be rationalized away. “I have enough, but what if there is a devaluation? I don’t have enough to have a self sufficient farm in Australia! Oh, I have the farm in Australia but the parrots ate all the crops. (True story.)”
There is always an excuse – a good excuse for More and ‘More, Ovaltine, mom.’
Until…
Until the realization that Shaddai (God, God Alm-ghty, God All Sufficient, Enough)– is Enough.

When I was about to start my Enough fee only financial planning practice, I contacted Richard Bolles (of What Color is Your Parachute fame). I had, day in and day out, for three months completed every exercise in this his first edition of Parachute as well as his co-authored book with Crystal – Where Do I Go Here With My Life.)

Bolles, a former minister, related that while the first edition had sold very well (today, he is on his 30+ edition!!) and many had come to his workshops, only 5-6 could he recall at the time – had ever completely done all the exercises in the book. Many had read the book (and several millions since) but at the time few ‘did’ the workbook.

When I told Bolles of the Enough approach as contrasted with More in financial planning, he told me his story. It seems prior to the book being published, out of work as a minister, he diminished his financial resources such that prior to his first $500 advance on the book, he even sold his box spring mattress he was so broke. ‘But,’ he said to me, ‘I was sustained knowing that God was ‘enough.’

God- Shaddai – was enough and is, are, and will be the offset and transcendence from the more inclination.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ENOUGH VS enough

ENOUGH (sm) vs Enough

There is a continuum of More vs Enough. On one extreme is tightwaddery and the other extreme is More (for more’s sake). The golden mean is ENOUGH.

To the right of tightwaddery is a Trojan Horse of Enough – ‘the green we are not sustainable political agenda’ masquerading as ENOUGH.
This Enough on the outside green on the inside political agenda discounts technological advances and believes we are net depleting the earth’s resources (and at the expense of others.)
While on one hand this faux Enough preaches the worthwhile independent of one finances via ‘enough,’ then inconsistently states from a Buddhist standpoint that there is ‘always another desire.’
The above political agenda approach to ‘enough’ is that of Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.
The ENOUGH I practiced was to heal financial anxiety, putting money in its place to transcend to significance – aligning personal resources to support life goals and values. The two approaches agree on the following:

· Our time is our life and we must price out our life per hour first in order to
· Make the tradeoffs: cost /happiness, cost/alignment to goals (yes/no) per category as well.
· More is cultural – ingrained
·
We disagree relative to:

· Making Enough the Trojan Horse of a political persuasion though Ms. Robin denies it – it is overwhelmingly evident in her book and tapes. My approach to ENOUGH is one man’s floor is another’s ceiling
· The derivation of More – (I believe it is a derivative of acquisition (Cain) which is man’s strategy – in delusion or to palliate – his fear of physical extinction which he identifies as himself.
Ms Robin believes it is result of the consumer society ((code phrase for capitalism)), in my opinion, confusing the symptom with the cause.) Ms. Robin’s statements are akin to Gore’s that ‘the argument is over’ which is implicit Animal Farm speak in an envelop of carmel, cotton candy and Cumbaya. More derives from fear of extinction reinforced by societal comparison for positioning not depletion of zero sum assets.

Robin’s Enough reminds me of what the liberals, socialists, and commies have done: change labels to hide their agenda. Environmentalism with its arrogant ‘the debate is over’ has become the home for these liberals, socialists, and commies who are running away from their label though the contents are the same. Thus: the new label ‘progressive’ when really they are watermelon democrats (green on the outside, pink on the inside).
Thus, while Robin offers some good techniques – your earnings per hour as a cost benefit mechanism, the happiness check off for alignment per expenditure – these are tactics of Enough. Scratch the surfaces and this Enough is just another disingenuous Trojan Horse mirage for a political agenda.

"Happiness," Worthwhile & ENOUGH

Happiness, Worthwhile, & Enough

I am what survives me
Eric Erickson

Happiness: pleasure, joy, bliss, gladness, delight, prosperity – Etymology: Middle English, from hap (as in haphazard, happenstance) fortune, chance, luck
“The pursuit of happiness,” the Constitution.
To date:
· More and more books on happiness and more and more people on prozac.
· Happiness books are rivaling diet books with as much success.

Happiness taxonomy:
· Money equaling happiness. Yet, surveys of happiness – after about $40,000 of income – don’t show any increase in happiness.
· Relative positional happiness. Per Mencken this is the happiness of one’s spouse making $100 more per week than his or her sibling’s spouse.

· Ever increasing dosage happinessto get the same hit of happiness (i.e. after the first bite of dark chocolate, it now has to be 70% cocoa not 50% to get the same ‘pleasure’
· Flow which is confused with happiness. Flow is where challenge meets skill and you look up at the clock and 6 hours went by and you didn’t know where the time went. This is getting into the zone – but some deem this happiness.
· Warm gun happiness (The Beatles): a 9 mm Beretta with a Crimson Tracer laser site, 17 in the magazine and 1 in the barrel. For others, it is an armory.

Hope is the gateway drug to the illusory happiness.

Hope:
· Deferred disappointment – Ambrose Bierce
· The absence of happiness – Krishnamurti
· The city of Bill Clinton’s birth
· The worst of all evils for it prolongs the torments of man - Nietzsche

If
· hope is the opening act
· happiness is either momentary, relative, and or a Hollywood illusion in this life

The real nes (test in Hebrew which also means miracle) is not the pursuit of happiness but the pursuit of what is worthwhile in completing our soul curriculum – our character,
Is there a bridge between the demise of happiness, hope, chick flicks’ delusion and one’s work in this ‘pain factory’ that may give contentment and solace?

Three things:
· equanimity – per Mussar ‘rising above the good and the bad’
· finding meaning IN one’s life
· knowing what ‘enough’ is, thus, wanting what one has and has been spared from

Per Hebrew, dai is ‘enough.’ And some Rabbinical scholars would state that ‘Shaddai’ (a word for God) means not only ‘God, God Almighty’ but Enough). And per Latin, the root word satis – as in satisfaction – means Enough.
It was Kant who stated, ‘happiness is the sum of satisfactions.’
Happiness the sum of enoughnesses?

So what is enough?
After several iterations and redefinitions over 33 years of personal financial planning, I’ve come to define enough two ways as:

· Enough: Healing financial anxiety puttin’ money in its place to transcend to significance (worthwhileness – meaning IN one’s life) becoming what one was meant to be and doing what one was meant to do.
· Enough to live on; Enough to live for.
Worthwhile, Equanimity, knowing Enough – the sum (sum is I am in Latin) of ‘contentment.’

Monday, July 5, 2010

ENOUGH #1: Sodom & Go MOREah

Sodom & GoMOREah

Next time I promise I won’t piss it away – 1987, 2010
We should have bought more (looking back at 1987, 2010)

In 1987 when the market went down 20% in a day, all of a sudden, clients, colleagues, friends ‘now (saw) the wisdom of Enough.’

The market started to turn up – and they were back to More.

This hard recession hit and hit hard in 2008-2009, and again former clients, colleagues, friends ‘now (saw) the wisdom of Enough’ again. And as the market has started to climb out of its decline, predictably and sequentially in successive approximation Enough is being shed for the More mentality.

Until friends, colleagues, former clients (who didn’t listen) turn to salt – there will be continuous regression to the MOREon as the More recessive gene –- only goes into temporary HIGHbernation.

More results in Go MOREah financial planning: – moreon planners (meeting the market demands of little Nancy Moreon hosts).

I can see the shingle now:

GoMOREah Financial Planners
There’s never ‘enough’