Harness Your Financial Power in the Year of the Snake

By Rita Cheng, CRPC®, CFP®
CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

As you begin 2013, and shift your focus from a season of giving and sharing to thoughts of the new year, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your accomplishments and lessons from 2012.

As an Asian American, I often think back to my childhood days when I studied the Chinese Zodiac. There are 12 creatures represented in the Chinese calendar, with a different animal celebrated each year.

2013 is the Year of the Snake, and in Eastern philosophy, snakes symbolize good fortune and intense power.

In Chinese astrology, the snake is an enigmatic creature that not only represents danger and venom, but also symbolizes beauty and wisdom. Having a snake in the family home is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve.

In 2012, we celebrated the Year of the Dragon, which was marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration, and intensity.

Instead of betting that luck of the Dragon will follow the Snake, make 2013 the year to invest for your future in a thoughtful way.

The Chinese Year of the Snake will begin Feb. 10. Who knows how long your good fortune will last?

As inventor Thomas Alva Edison said, “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

In fact, financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your financial resources.

While the act of establishing New Year’s resolutions demonstrates the best of intentions, a more practical option is to develop new goals for the future.

Goals are more viable than resolutions for a few key reasons:

  • Identifying the right goals, developing your written plan to reach those goals, and implementing the action steps required to attain those goals can make all the difference.
  • Sharing your goals is an important part of goal-setting. When you share your goals, you gain an instant support network of people who have a vested interest in your success. This also leads to conversation around your goals so that you can gain the insight and knowledge you need to achieve them.
  • Setting resolutions can be overwhelming if you state them in absolute terms. Avoid making resolutions such as, “I won’t go to Starbucks anymore,” or “I will go to the gym every morning.” These resolutions are stated so rigidly that if you deviate at all from these absolutes you may feel like a failure. Try instead setting goals that can advance your progress, such as, “I will go out for coffee two or three times a week instead of every day,” or “I will increase the number of times I go to the gym each week.”
  • While accomplishing your biggest goals may seem daunting, goals become attainable when you take baby steps. As you become more comfortable with the changes, it will get easier to add new goals to your plan. It will also be easier to sustain the growth you’ve accomplished.
  • Goals provide a sense of purpose and direction. But be patient with yourself. It’s easy to revert to past habits and abandon your resolutions. Rather than give up when your goals feel elusive, use the opportunity to modify your plans by selecting an alternative activity.
  • Don’t lose track of your goal, even when you’re experiencing a setback. For example, suppose you want to save more money for retirement. You might make a resolution to reduce your travel and entertainment budget so that you can save $5,000 per year to deposit in a Roth IRA. If you find that curtailing your travel and entertainment so drastically makes you feel deprived and miserable, you probably won’t stick to your resolution, and you’ll end up no better off than you are now.
  • However, if you decide to save an extra $100 to $200 per month towards your Roth IRA, you may discover that not only are you challenging yourself, but that what initially is uncomfortable becomes comfortable and you are able to meet or exceed your goal.

To derive the greatest benefit from the Year of the Snake, plan to use your talents wisely.

Don’t fritter away the opportunity that the end of the year gives us to plan. What you write down now, you can make come true.

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP® is the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, which provides corporations and institutions with portfolio construction, investment due diligence, and risk-management consulting services. The firm works with families, entrepreneurs, and executives to help them identify and achieve their financial goals. As a CFP Board Ambassador, she helps educate the public, policy makers, and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.

A Financial Planning Association (FPA) National Board Member and member of the finance committee, Cheng served eight years on the Board of Directors of her alma matter, The Robert H. Smith School of Business at University of Maryland, where she collaborated to increase alumni engagement and developed asset management education programs. She is also the President of the Blue Ocean Economic Empowerment Fund.

Cheng says her greatest joy and passion is touching the lives of others so that they may achieve their “personal financial success.”

For more information, visit www.blueoceanglobalwealth.com.

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