Take stock of your financial house

In his bestseller, “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins reveals that great business leaders have hearty appetites for the unadulterated truth, the “brutal facts,” but truth about what?

Sure, everyone wants the skinny on competitors, and most want to know what customers think but far fewer want the lowdown on their own enterprise, and almost no one really wants to face the facts about himself or herself. Yet, the best leaders, it turns out, have the habit of turning on bright lights and standing buck naked in front of the mirror. Ouch!

If it’s hard enough to hear the truth about your business life, how hard is it to hear the truth about your personal life, including your financial affairs? April is National Financial Literacy Month and the right time to take stock of your financial affairs, particularly your home budget.

Step one is to confront the brutal facts and, if necessary, to face those inconvenient truths. We’re good at hiding them, of course, behind credit cards and HELOCs, indecipherable reports from unaccountable advisors of all sorts, and spending patterns that we don’t analyze (including the mysterious and bottomless “Miscellaneous” line in our home budgets).

Even if we do know where every dollar goes, we are too often placated by our laudable but misplaced belief that things will turn around soon. Winston Churchill once observed, “There is no worse mistake in public leadership than to hold out false hopes soon to be swept away.” The same might also be said about personal financial leadership.

So make this the time to get your financial house in order. Think of it as your annual financial check-up. It’s probably just a “wellness visit” but you may be surprised by what you find. And don’t go it alone. Abraham Lincoln had it right when he quipped, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Your physician, and your daily money manager, would undoubtedly agree.

David Hoover is founder and president of Armistead Worldwide LLC in Whitefish Bay.

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