The next time you're in your car driving around in your community take a close look at the vast array of signs that are placed and posted for you and all of us to see. It's amazing!

Caution - Stop - Yield - One Way - Do Not Enter - School Crossing - Speed Bump

The list goes on and on. The reasons are quite obvious (no pun here), these posted notifications are communicating to us a message as we approach, which alerts us to the right choice of action that is called for. So what's the message here regarding signs, behavior and our finances? Easy. We need to be aware of what and how we approach our spending, saving, investing and day-to-day management of cash. America is a country of spenders. We spend first and deal with the consequences of those choices later. Look at our Federal Government, over $16,000,000,000,000 (That's trillion) in debt. We pass legislation at the national, state, and local level that seems to point us towards insolvency, liquidation, or huge deficits that somehow have become normal with ever-increasing numbers that we seem to accept as citizens. DESPITE THE SIGNS.

What about in our homes? America has proven (by the facts- another sign) that household spending exceeds our regular take home pay. When in doubt, we grab the credit card because we need, or think we need, which really simply is we want it bad (craving), so we run up some more debt. When you get your statement (another sign) it points out that the new purchase has been added to the heap of past purchases. Guess what? With the interest rates the bank is charging on your card, what was on sale for $75 to a bargain of $40 ends up costing you $300! Why? Because the minimum payments you make every month continue to cause the total balance to grow over time. Hey, what about your choice of only being able to make the minimum payment, isn't that a sign of something? Like, you're running out of cash. Hello, the Clue phone is ringing. Do you even hear it?

Every year it seems on the news or in newspapers or magazines, we read that Americans are saving less compared to other countries in the world (sign). On top of that, we now have more debt with student loans than credit cards and automobiles, exceeding a trillion dollars. Ouch! The piles continue to soar!
Noticing a trend here? All of these warnings, these signs, are a \"macro\" view of Americans as a whole. If we were to take a good, close, \"hawk eye\" view of our families cash management habits would it be much different? What ever happened to that old worn out saying \"live within your means\"? Where did it go? Since when did America make the choice to ignore it? Why does \"keeping up with the Jones\" seem to be so ingrained in our fiscal discipline or lack thereof? Why does \"living in the moment\" surpass needed peace of mind of how to live a fiscally balanced lifestyle?

A credit card is a sign in itself! You're purchasing stuff you really don't need, with money you don't really have, at prices you can't afford. The stuff you think you need, you probably don't. If so, why are there so many garage sales on most weekends? The sign we need is maybe a jack-in-the-box that jumps out at us from our purse, wallet, or checkbook. Now that would be quite a sign to catch our attention and guard us from ourselves of continuing to spend. If we expect to put our kids through school, have a decent retirement, take care of some of life's emergencies, we must stop and identify (signs) our behavior in handling our finances. Until we do this, we'll continue to be stressed out, unfulfilled and left in despair, depressingly coming to the realization that we blew it - in every way - with our money.

If I could place a big red STOP sign in front of you to catch your attention to stop doing it your way and show you a Detour sign to the new road of fiscal restraint and responsibility, you'd then see my One Way sign which would take you to a new destination called Easy Street (yeah, it's posted, you just haven't gotten there yet!). Now that's a road that needs to be traveled. As you figure this out, by looking at the daily signs, you'll begin to enjoy the ride. I truly hope it's not been too bumpy so far!

Helping all to find financial comfort.

SOFA Team
America's #1 Financial Literacy Resource