Who Wants to Work with a Robot?

In scouring the Internet or in reading trusted news publications, you many have heard the term “robo advisor” used to describe a new breed of service providers who use the web to deliver investment selection and portfolio management.

While there are certainly people working at the “robo firm”, there are some important differences. It is important to note that RamseyInvesting.com is not a robo service.

What’s the difference between a “real” advisor and a “robo” advisor?

Most often, robo services use algorhythms and pre-programmed software-driven investment models as the primary mechanism for creating portfolios for real a human being (that would be you!).

At RamseyInvesting.com, we use the web to facilitate conversations, not replace them. We use technology to enhance our expertise, not replace it.

Some robo services route investors to a call center, where they may not ever speak with the same person twice (the call center employee simply looks up the investor’s account details and tries to talk through the query “cold”.)

At RamseyInvesting.com, we make ourselves available to our clients over the phone and email. We want to know their stories – their goals, dreams and objectives – not just the data. We ask tough questions and encourage our clients to talk about their financial lives. We’re prepared to guide our clients through unexpected life events, and will always try to steer them in the right direction. We identify risks in client portfolios that might have been overlooked. We talk people off ledges and help them stay the course during market volatility.

Most robo services are founded by financial services professionals (and their business investors). Few hire real people with the right credentials and expertise to provide meaningful one-on-one interaction.

At RamseyInvesting.com, we have worked as personal financial advisors and relationship managers for many years. I’ve personally selected and trained all my staff members. This is all we do: help people make smarter decisions about their money and how to invest it. As human beings, we have credentials that show our expertise and must continually adhere to industry standards that say we must put our clients’ best interests first.

Can a robotic, non-personalized service compete with a real human being? We think not.

At RamseyInvesting.com, we are genuinely concerned about our clients’ financial comfort, security and happiness. We understand what our clients are going through because we’ve been there too.

Who wants to work with a robot? Not me. How about you?

Discovering Your Own Money Baggage (Part 3)

I remember being at a stoplight after another twelve-hour day thinking my usual: If I keep working I’ll be able to retire someday. I just have to make it through the next twenty-six years. I noticed how tightly my hands were gripping the steering wheel and how tense my shoulders were. The appalling reality of this future was weighing down on me.

I began to think about how my early life and experiences around money had shaped my adult life. I suddenly realized that although it was me behind the wheel, my money baggage was the real driver in my life. The idea—that I had to work hard and, no matter what, there would not be enough—was in control, not me.

Over the next few months, I began to get glimpses of how powerful and pervasive the conclusions I had made as a child were, and how strongly they influenced me. You have to work hard to make money, and even if you do, you’ll never make enough had led to an endless cycle of work and worry and fear. As I was looking out the window one day, pondering this, a question kept running through my mind, “What should I do with my life?”

I knew I had always been interested in the role money played in my life choices, so I decided to take some courses in financial planning. I found it so interesting that I continued to study and take more classes. I worked hard at it (naturally) and became a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. I hired a career counselor to help me develop a business plan and a marketing strategy. Three months later, I opened up a financial planning practice.

I was thrilled to be doing financial planning, something I loved to do. But I still found that life stubbornly held on to its tendency to make my money baggage come true.

My income would rise and fall on a monthly basis in direct correlation with my expenses. When I had a good revenue month, my expenses would also be high—the copier would break or quarterly taxes would come due. So I would eagerly look forward to the months when it looked like my overhead would be low, thinking if my revenue stayed high, I’d start to get ahead. But it never happened that way. In low-expense months, my revenue would dip, almost as if by magic, leaving me with my usual sense of scarcity. No matter what I did or how I planned, I could not get ahead. I could not shake my underlying fear that, even if I worked like crazy, there wouldn’t be enough.

My circumstances had developed in perfect harmony with my money baggage. It was as if my money baggage was the background music that had played in every scene of my life.

Discovering your own money baggage is the first step toward overcoming your struggles around money. It is not hard work to do. It’s just that most of us have never had our attention drawn to it. We have never explored our beliefs about money because we consider our beliefs to be complete fact, “just the way life is.” But you will find, as you do this work, that your money baggage is not true. You have simply lived your life in alignment with an erroneous decision you made as a child. Given that you’ve never examined your life in this way before, it’s easy to see how that could have occurred.

In the blog posts that follow, you will learn the three basic principles that underlie your money baggage. You’ll also examine questions that will reveal to you your own money baggage and how it has shaped every part of your life. Later on, you will learn about creating a new money message. By living your life in a way that is consistent with this new message, you will begin to manifest your dreams.

Next week: The Three Basic Principles that Underlie Your Money Baggage.

Discovering Your Own Money Baggage (Part 2)

In my adolescent years, I lived the only way I knew how to live: by working hard. I excelled academically. I joined the band and honor society. I was editor of the yearbook. On top of all this, from ninth grade on I worked twelve to sixteen hours a week in the lab of our local hospital cleaning test tubes. I tried to pretend that my family had money but—even if I fooled my classmates—I knew deep down it wasn’t true.

I carried my money baggage into adulthood. I worked hard and put myself through college, got good grades, and found my first job soon after graduating. I was the ideal employee, working my tail off, coming in early, and staying late. I worked through lunch. My boss knew if there was a job to do, I’d get it done no matter what it took.

For me, that’s just what you did in life—work hard. It’s how life was. Working hard wasn’t a conscious choice for me. It was a given—no questions asked.

I didn’t notice I was still “driving the tractor” from sunup to sundown. It was so automatic for me to work hard that the thought of not working hard made me panic. I thought I could lose everything at any time if I didn’t stay at it.

Despite my hard work and the fact that I made pretty good money, I was always haunted by the feeling I’d have to make that drive to the bank for a loan. Deep down I knew there wouldn’t be enough money to get me through. So I worked even harder. I started a business consulting practice and worked sixty to seventy hours a week. I went in early, I paid all the bills, and I arranged all the appointments. I prepped for client pitch meetings or for the consulting work.

While I was doing all this work, it seemed that my business partner, Nita, was always in one of three places: getting her nails or hair done, playing with her kids, or working out. I’d pick her up, we’d do the two or three hours of consulting with the client, and I’d drop her off at home. Then I’d go back to work. This went on for a year and a half. Finally the day came when I said, “Nita, this isn’t working for me.”

Nita, looking a bit confused, said, “What isn’t working for you?”

“Our business partnership—it isn’t fair. I’m working all these hours, but we both get paid the same. I work before and after you, getting ready for our client work, doing all this extra stuff…and then you just waltz in to do the consulting work. I’m working way more than you are,” I snapped.

Nita wasn’t the least impressed. She said, “Karen, it’s because you have it completely wired up that you have to work hard. I don’t. And even if I did work harder, you’d find a way to work just as hard as you are now. You’d find something else that had to be done. I let you do all that work, because you feel like you have to do it.”

“And it’s even worse than that, Karen,” she said. “Some people make a lot more than we do and they work a lot fewer hours. Maybe it’s not all about working hard.”

“Of course it is, Nita. How else can we have a successful business and make enough to support ourselves?” I replied indignantly.

I didn’t want to hear any more. I drove her the rest of the way home in silence. After dropping Nita off, I started to argue with her in the empty car. “How dare you say that to me? How the heck can you make money and not work hard?”

But Nita’s words haunted me. I respected her and her opinion enough that, even though I didn’t like what she’d said, I knew there had to be some truth in it. I’d seen my mom and dad work themselves to exhaustion and, trusting in them as role models, I didn’t know any other way. If working hard was not the answer, then what was?

Soon after this conversation, Nita and I closed our consulting practice and I took a job as a human resources director at an ad agency. Guess what? I worked really hard and very long hours . . . and never had more than enough money.

To be continued next week … Part 3 of Discovering Your Own Money Baggage.

Discovering Your Own Money Baggage

Most of my adult life you could have described me as a workaholic. Sixty-hour workweeks were standard. I was always the first to arrive and the last to go home at night, regardless of the job. I could never do enough. And yet, despite working long hours at good paying jobs, I never had more than just enough to get by.

I grew up on a farm in Loveland, Colorado, where we didn’t have inside plumbing until I was in third grade. My dad got up at four-thirty in the morning to milk the cows, seven days a week. He would work in the wheat, barley, or alfalfa fields all day and be back in the barn at five o’clock at night to milk the cows a second time. He’d come in for dinner. He’d eat. He’d sit in his easy chair exhausted and fall asleep. Around nine he’d get up and go to bed. At four-thirty the next morning he was up milking the cows again.

I remember wishing my dad would play with me, but he never had time for playing. If he wasn’t milking the cows, he was driving the tractor in the fields or working on the machinery. It seemed like the only time I spent with him was going to town to get a part for some machinery that was broken. I secretly hoped something would break so we could go to town together; a guilty wish since I knew fixing it would cost money, which was in short supply.

I remember only one vacation in my entire childhood, three days at a cabin in the mountains. I dreaded hearing my friends describe their vacations, praying they wouldn’t ask me what I did. Playing on our tire swing and reading library books always paled in comparison to their vacation activities. I wanted to fit in but knew I never would.

While my dad was tending the farm, I saw my mother work equally hard, raising us, taking care of everyone, and making sure that we had three square meals on the table each day. Growing up in this environment, I made a conclusion about life that, years later, I came to recognize as the first part of my money baggage. What I learned through observing everything around me was you have to work really hard.

But working hard is not the only thing I learned from my parents. I also observed how the constant struggle with money issues affected our lives, and this became the second part of my money baggage. Let me explain.

August meant harvest time on the farm. My father had the wheat and barley trucked to the granary. On settlement day, we received a check for the tonnage of grain delivered.

It was the happiest day of the year, and it started with a trip to the bank. The whole family drove five miles from the granary in Loveland to the town of Berthoud to deposit the check. We’d go out for an ice-cream cone afterward—something we didn’t usually do. I vividly remember riding in the back of my parents’ blue 1954 Ford, with the wind in my hair and feeling that everything was right in the world.

Months later, in January, February, or March, I would see my father at his desk poring over papers, sorting bills, running his hands through his hair, trying to make ends meet. His shoulders would be slumped and he’d shake his head a lot. Eventually he would throw his pencil down, push his chair back from the desk, and say, “Well, we just have to go to the bank and get a loan to make it through until harvest.” I could see the anguish in his eyes and, although he never said it aloud, I knew he felt like a failure.

In the kitchen, I saw my mother crying. I loved my mom so much. I wanted her to be happy and it broke my heart to see her cry. It made me feel alone and really sad for her. And scared—scared that we wouldn’t have enough to eat, that my parents wouldn’t ever be happy again, that I’d never have a life like other kids, that life wasn’t going to turn out.

The ride on this second trip to the bank, to borrow the money to get us through until the next harvest, felt much different. The three of us rode in silence: my father gripping the steering wheel and clenching his jaw; my mom looking out the window with a resigned look on her face; and me in the back seat, hoping she wouldn’t start crying again.

Every year, this boom and bust cycle repeated itself. Happiness on settlement day; fear, sadness, and frustration on loan day. I vividly remember the day my dad sold the farm. To get out from under the debt that had accumulated over the years, he was forced to hand it over to a banker from Denver who wore fancy cowboy boots that had probably never seen the inside of a barn. From a distance, I saw him hand my dad the check for the farm and, even from where I stood, I could see the relief in my dad’s face—finally he could get out of debt. But I knew deep inside he was humiliated to have “lost” the family farm. From that moment on we were tenant farmers—living on the farm that had been in my dad’s family for more than forty years. But instead of my dad working hard to make money for us, he was doing it for the rich businessman.

From watching and experiencing all of this, the second part of my money baggage emerged. I concluded there is never enough. I put these two innocent conclusions about money together at an early age and they became my money baggage: You have to work hard to make money, and even if you do, you’ll never make enough. This simple and erroneous conclusion became the unconscious burden I carried around for the next thirty-plus years of my life.

To be continued next week … Part 2 of Discovering Your Own Money Baggage.