These days, superheroes are all the rage; it seems like there's a new Hollywood production out every other week. I'm not complaining, but there are quite a few of these uniquely gifted marvels (pun intended) I had no idea even existed. And when I see a new player in the game, I'm curious about what super powers they bring to the table.
Amid all this superhero drama, I recently asked myself, "What would a financial superhero look like?" After some thought -- and reflection on my favorite childhood greats -- I've devised a new brand of superhero. Read on for her five top traits.
- She's impervious to emotional influences. Emotions are a huge handicap as we manage our day-to-day finances. It's easy to get so amped up and excited that we convince ourselves a "stretch purchase" on a too-expensive new vehicle makes sense. Or we find ourselves cowering behind the couch, computer in hand and bailing out of the market, as the latest 24-hour news headlines drive your investment decisions. Emotions aren't a bad thing, but they can be the enemy of sound financial decisions.
- She knows the difference between a need and a want. I regularly catch myself saying, "I need ____." You can fill in the blank, but it's usually some new equipment that will finally elevate my golf game to the next level. If we could all emulate our superhero's ability to run our purchase decisions through an accurate want vs. need analysis, we would be in much better position to deploy our resources in a way that ensures our long-term financial security. I'm not saying never do wants, just do them strategically in the context of your overall plan.
- She demonstrates X-ray-like risk management. Typically, when I mention insurance, people start to nod off or reflexively move to protect their wallet. However, having the right type and amount of coverage can help you avoid a financial catastrophe. As mere mortals, we're left to figure out potential risks and ensure the coverage we have keeps pace with our ever-changing lives (marriage, divorce, kids, new job, new house, etc.). Our financial superhero intuitively understands where catastrophe originates and shuts it down in its tracks.
- She's easily able to forgo short-term gratification for long-term security. Delayed gratification is second nature to our financial superhero. She intuitively recognizes opportunity costs, and her mind translates something as simple as a drive-through cup of coffee to a lost seven-course meal in retirement.
- She's MacGyver on steroids. Up to this point, our superhero's traits have been more cerebral than physical -- no flying, bullet repellance or bolts of lightning flying from her fingertips. However, to round out the package, she can insource a multitude of goods and services, allowing her to spend less than she earns. I'm talking lawn work, car washing, pet washing, handyman work, oil changes, etc. The cool thing is she immediately captures the realized savings and deposits the money in her very mundane savings account. A superhero for the people.
You may not see my Finance Superwoman on the big screen anytime soon, but adopt a few of her powers, and you'll be able to shape-shift your financial goals from a dream into reality.