Out with old, in with new way of thinking

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  • Start afresh: you may be dreading your January credit card bill after the holidays, but the new year can herald a new approach to your finances

    Start afresh: you may be dreading your January credit card bill after the holidays, but the new year can herald a new approach to your finances

This, the last day of 2016, we are surrounded by changes, some monumental, some uncertain, some of them inevitable, as we head into the Year of our Lord 2017. In our North Atlantic neighbourhood, the United States has a new president-elect (with new economic platforms for change) after eight familiar years with President Obama.

The United Kingdom is embarking on a long financial, tax, and immigration Brexit journey, a tremendous national change, the outcome of which no one can predict today.

The European Union faces economic challenges and changes with its massive migrant influx. Canada is opening its doors to change ó with increasing numbers of immigrants through economic and family sponsorship programmes.

Countries, governments, environments, politicians, individuals everywhere. Everything everywhere is in a state of change.

Bermuda faces an election year replete with pending initiatives, legislation activity, and a major economic tourist programme. We donít know yet what these changes will bring to our lives here in Bermuda at our next holiday season.

We are in a perpetual state of change although we may not recognise such ó physically, mentally with our relationships, our working environment, our community, our country, and the world. We like to think that we donít need to change even though we are not satisfied with our lives, or we may even resist changes in our own personal environment, but this is magical thinking. Change is inevitable.

Financial change

Here is one area to bring about a small change in perspective for next year by changing how you and your family manage holiday celebrations.

You can have an impact because for many, holidays are when traditional expectations pre-empt careful financial planning. The result: frustration and a less-than-happy ending.

Readers, I am sure, are not surprised to know that many people dread the holiday season. They donít agree with the excesses and the rigmaroles (as one person put it). They are uncomfortable with what they feel is commercialisation of the spiritual (as another said distastefully). Others love the whole celebration but struggle with the implicit message that perfection must be attained for the festivities to be authentic. Perfection, however, is an unrealistic goal.

Youíve done everything expected of you over the holidays. Got the right gifts (mostly), made the right epicurean feasts, acted as referee or peacemaker to refocus and re-establish family relationships, youíve done this to keep everyone happy and on track at home while making the Herculean push in your work environment to end the year on a high note (and profitability).

And, in accomplishing a serene holiday season, you have probably spent far too much financially and emotionally to achieve these happy results.

You just might be dreading that January 2017 credit card bill.

We all tend to have at one time or another, a difficult relationship with money. This is because money decisions are often emotional, rather than rational, decisions made to help our friends, family and ourselves feel better.

So much of how we spend (or not) our precious dollars depends upon our mood of the day, our perception of ourselves, or how others perceive us (in our minds), our emotional quotient, our confidence factor, whether our insecurity is showing, whether we need to impress others that we are still players in the game of life ó very few monetary decisions reflect cold, hard logic.

Not surprisingly, too, this is because we are wonderfully human.

So, individually, consider changing just one thing. Make a resolution to no longer regret any of the decisions you have made in the past. Put those good or bad choices all away (in the box with the old Christmas ornaments) and never dwell on them again.

You did what you had to do. No regrets. No recriminations.

Next year, you will have the fortitude to take the holiday high and lowlights in stride the same as always, but you will be rationally, financially and emotionally in control of your celebrations. The holidays will be just as good, actually, they will be outstanding because you have given yourself and your family the motivation to change.

Be an agent of change. If you can change one thing, you can change anything.

Now, is your time. The future beckons.

Time to value yourself, respect yourself, have confidence in yourself and embrace change to achieve your dreams.

Happy New Year.

Martha Harris Myron CPA PFS JSM: Masters of Law ó International Tax and Financial Services; Pondstraddler Lifeô Financial Perspectives for Bermuda Islanders with Multinational Families and International Connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published Jan 2, 2017 at 12:01 am (Updated Dec 30, 2016 at 9:27 pm)

Out with old, in with new way of thinking

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