By Jerry Robinson | FTMDaily.com Editor-in-Chief
It has been a rough ride in the global economy as of late. If you are an investor, you know that great financial perils exist right now… but so do great opportunities. It is this ability to recognize those opportunities that separate those who are financially successful from those who are not.
Most of the financially successful people I know are doing extremely well right now. Many of them have confided in me that the last two or three years have been some of their best years ever. I would have to agree.
To understand why, consider that my definition of financial success is our Five Levels of Financial Freedom. Sure, not every successful person that I know has used our wealth building system. However, their financial lives are structured very similarly to those who have.
One common trait that nearly all financially successful people share is that they have a well diversified investment portfolio with exposure to several different asset classes, including stocks, real estate, and precious metals. Instead of getting hung up on which financial product to buy, they focus on their overall financial goals, which then leads to the creation of a financial strategy.
This really is a major difference that sets the wealthy apart. Unfortunately, most people do this backwards. They listen to the financial media and think in terms of which financial product is “best.” This is the typical approach to financial planning by most Americans.
In contrast, the wealthy person asks “What are my financial goals?” Then they create a financial strategy to meet those goals. The financial products they buy are determined by their financial strategy.
When I speak around the country, I am often asked by the audience where they should put their money. That’s the wrong question. That’s the question that will lead you to the poor house. The right question is: “What are my financial goals?” Until you can answer that question, you cannot create a solid financial strategy. And until you have a financial strategy, you cannot possibly know where to put your money.
Once after speaking at a conference in Washington, a woman who was in her 60’s came up to me to ask where I thought she should put her money. When I asked what her financial goals were, she replied, “My nest egg is all I have and I just don’t want to lose it. I want to receive an ongoing income from my investments without having to worry if I will outlive it.”
When I asked her if she had ever considered an annuity, she cringed and said, “Oh no. I hear those are bad.”
“Who says that annuities are bad?“, I asked. Her reply was telling. “That’s what I have heard on the radio,” she stated. I asked her if she always did her financial planning on AM radio. She chuckled and then continued to ask if I knew anything about an exotic currency (the Iraqi currency) and whether it was a “good” investment!
Bless this woman’s heart. Friends, this is exactly how the poor stay poor. They actually believe that the way to wealth is by picking the right financial products. Those who are wealthy, however, think strategy first, and products second.
Now I do not know if an annuity would have been right for her. That would have to be determined by her and her trusted financial advisor. But I can tell you that based upon her stated goals of creating a lifetime income stream from her nest egg, it should have at least been a consideration.
To further illustrate this point, consider this: I am a decent golfer and have a nice set of golf clubs. However, put me on the golf course with Tiger Woods and it does not matter how nice my clubs are. I could have the most expensive set of clubs on the planet and he could have the cheapest. It would not matter. Why? Because Tiger’s power is in his “swing”, not in his golf club. Its strategy, not product, that the wealthy consider first.
Your takeaway: Stop listening to the financial product pushers and instead focus on writing down your financial goals. Then, create a financial strategy for achieving those goals. Finally, consider which financial product would be best for reaching your goals. Don’t fall for the simple thinking that some products are good and some are bad. When you think this way, you fall into the financial salesman’s trap. Instead, some financial products are right for your particular goals while some are not right for your specific goals.