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Why do we, as investors, fear our financial future?

Sometimes it feels we live in a world of absolutes, black and white, when one might argue there’s really all kinds of gray. Often, watching the news and listening to recent current events, we can fall victim to focusing our attention on these events in a way that can lead to fear. The news sometimes makes us feel we live in a world driven by fear. But what if, instead, we all individually choose an alternative attitude of hope and positivity for not only our personal lives, but also for our financial future?

It seems, as investors, we sometimes fall victim to fear when we don’t fully understand how a concept relates to investing and what it means for us and our lives. Our inclination may be to search for an answer. We seek to understand how world events and the “market” impact our financial lives by drawing conclusions based on our personal biases and perspectives. This can lead to a viewpoint rooted in fear of the unknown regarding our financial future. Some of us overanalyze in worry, others choose to withdraw, others to keep spending and simply not think about it–because it makes us feel uncomfortable. What if we chose to take a proactive and intentional approach to our financial lives and wellbeing? The famous “Serenity Prayer” states, “Strive to change the things you can; accept the things you cannot; and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Our founder, Jerry Foster, talks a lot about making small vector changes in his book, Life Focus, based on what he calls the “Vector Principle.”

“Vector is the direction that something is moving.  A pilot flying from New York to Los Angeles can make a one degree vector change somewhere over Ohio and it is imperceptible; nobody notices the correction. But given enough time and distance, the plane could end up landing in Portland instead of Los Angeles. That is the way it is with the life choices we make.  Those little decisions don’t seem like they will make much of difference, but given enough time, the direction change could be life altering, good or bad.  One vector change on top of another can lead to a life transformation. Every single action has a consequence. Good or bad. A lack of action can also have an impact in a negative way. Instead of moving ourselves on a positive trajectory, we can choose to not act and we end up becoming stuck, one inaction at a time.”

How would we positively impact our financial wellbeing if we simply focused our financial lives around making small habit changes like putting an extra $50 toward eliminating debt, saving throughout the year for birthdays and holidays, or simply opening a 529 plan for our child starting at $25 per month? Small changes can lead to big outcomes. Instead of focusing on “running out of money” in retirement, let’s focus intentionally on the small changes we can make today to achieve the financial freedom, meaningful living, and generous giving we hope to achieve in the future.

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