Wow, does Dollars and Sense ever have an amazing, caring and engaged readership! While I always believed that to be true, it was proven in spades.
Two weeks ago, I suggested the best way we can change people's financial planning behaviours in a positive way is to apply positive peer pressure and social motivation.
I offered a free copy of my book Managing the Bull to the first five readers who told me an authentic story of how they have motivated a friend or family member to act to improve their financial situation.
The first response was received at 5:48 a.m. the same morning, the next coming seven minutes later. By noon, we had given away 15 books, as it's hard to say no to enthusiasm.
Thanks to everyone who sent me one of those wonderful stories, and thanks for your permission to share some of them here:
"I have successfully convinced my oldest grandchild to follow the things you outline in your articles, and he is now contributing to RRSPs, on top of belonging to a government pension."
"My dad was the one who encouraged always setting aside a bit for later and reinvesting the tax benefit (delayed gratification), resisting advertising gimmickry (those zero-interest/pay-later purchases) and avoiding debt. His example, and success, inspired and encouraged me and our family to aim for an early retirement instead of 'having it all' and 'keeping up with the Joneses.' My parents-in-law inspired us through their indefatigable spirits and patience... after perseverance and hard work, to let things unfold.
"Our daughter did without the winter vacations, clothes, devices, etc. that her friends boasted about. We have travelled by car, camped and canoed in many parts of Canada, saved through an RESP for our daughter's education (no student-loans theme), and now have enough savings for early retirement. Our pensions, RRSPs and savings will keep us comfortable. Being debt-free is paramount to our success. We will now shift our saving goals to special trips and our future grandchildren!"
"I have always believed in forced savings -- put money away where it is available, but where you have to go out of your way to get it. The company I work for has a share-purchase plan and I have convinced a few young people with no money to join. Just start putting one or two per cent of your cheque in and then when raises come, increase it by another one per cent. If you really, really need the money, you can always get it. After 10 years, one of my co-workers still tells me that it was great advice and still asks questions on saving. Saving can be less painful if you start small and don't lock in right away. Keep the feeling that if you need the money you can get at it."
Some stories acknowledged the immense challenges some people face, such as losing a spouse with young children:
"Bad things in life happen. I am so glad we were financially prepared and had insurance in place."
Here are some wise words to live by:
"It's a delicate balance of values, indeed, to be supportive without being judgmental, to coach without lecturing, to either bite my tongue or roll it out (speak up) when necessary, and to remain credible amidst the consumerism media. Looking forward to a long and happy retirement... "
And here's the one my wife did not want to hear:
"I would like you to help parents get the message out to our kids. We need you to write another book."
David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, is a financial planner and adviser with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a vice-president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.