• Kelechukwu “Chu” Oparah

The Difference is Clarity

Pay Yourself First


I love a show out of the UK called Grand Designs. It follows people through the process of building their dream homes over the months and years to design, secure planning permissions and through to final completion … usually.


I love how the show bursts with truth as the narratives surrounding people who are engaged in massive effort, sacrifice and persistence make their vision manifest into reality. At this point, I've watched enough episodes to notice a trend. The people who spend the most time clarifying the design and calculating exact costs down to the fixtures, often have the least hiccups during the build. That’s not to say that they don’t have unexpected troubles. They just have better capacity to get back on track. It’s a great show.


I love architecture because drawing something and imagining what it might be like for it to exist in reality is one of the easiest ways to experience the positive emotions of enjoying today when tomorrow isn’t here yet.


For some of you, it’s cooking or writing or driving that transports you into a future that makes you happy today with enough detail and clarity to trigger all the same emotions as if it were already here. Yet, for most Americans, that sort of clarity is totally elusive when it comes to money. A currency that we all need to use.


To cultivate your clarified imagination, I’m going to suggest that you spend the next few months considering, developing and, when it’s been vetted by a pro, executing a strategy to close the distance from wherever you are now to some of the big ideas I’ve been sharing here.


As the show Grand Designs points out, it’s amazing how much joy we can have in the journey when we have deep specificity and clarity with what we’re trying to build. Note, if you want a guide with the ideas I share, I’m happy to hook you up with registration to one of my “How Money Works MasterClass” Workshops. Just message me. For now, here's another big idea.


Pay Yourself First

The idea of paying yourself first is a critical paradigm shift for most Americans. In 2007, we learned that our country was living at a negative savings rate. We were spending on average as a country $1.18 for every $1.00 we earned which brought consumer debt in this country to over a trillion dollars and student loan debt close to $1.7 trillion. Contrast that with the fact that 60% of millionaires in this country never had a household income above $80,000 a year.


As confusing as it is to imagine that both realities co-exist, it does illustrate that most of us have a choice that we’re largely left unable to see about which side of the coin we’d like to experience. That is unless someone comes along and shines a light on the choices we have. Before we get into tactics we have to have the basic structure of the strategy.


Here it is: the most consistent difference between the wealthy and everyone else. Wealthy people automate the savings they pay into their own future goals at a rate of 20% - 40% of earnings and spend the rest. The middle class and the poor tend to live off of what they earn and save whatever is left… which is rarely ever anything. The reason is simple. Most people can’t see tomorrow’s target with enough clarity to feel good about funding it.


When people tell me they don’t know where to put their money, I usually find that talking about the actual vehicles we could use doesn’t ever lead to action. When we instead paint a clear picture about where they’re heading now, and contrast it specifically with where they could be heading with a plan, it does the trick. That’s a conversation that I believe everyone deserves to have.


If you’ve thought of making a plan, don’t hold yourself back. It doesn’t have to cost you anything but your time and your imagination, so don’t wait.


Kelechukwu “Chu” Oparah is a Licensed Financial Professional Serving your Dayton Community. For more content, Chu is on Instagram @chuoparah.

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