Paycheck Chronicles

From Politics to Your Pocketbook: 4 Lessons for the Long Haul


“Never discuss politics or religion.”

That was the advice I got from Mr. Todd, my first supervisor after I left the Army for a career in financial planning.

Today I’m going to disregard that as far as politics is concerned. No matter your political leanings, you can learn something about your finances from the seemingly never-ending campaign for who will occupy the White House in January.

Here are four lessons that come to mind:

Cash Is King

The field on the Democratic side of the aisle this election cycle was fairly small, but early on, nearly 20 Republicans were vying for their party’s nomination. A lack of campaign funding wasn’t the only thing that thinned the field, but it was a key contributor (pun intended) in many cases. In your own life, having some reserve cash — what we advisors call an emergency fund — can help you steer clear of financial hiccups. It can also help you avoid stress when life throws you a curveball that would otherwise force you to borrow, sell or cash in investments.

Short-term Memory Loss Can Be Helpful

It can be frustrating to watch candidates conveniently forget what they said or supported last year, last month or even yesterday. But being able to focus on the future, rather than recent events, can be a good thing. When it comes to investing, forget those stock numbers ticking across your phone, and don’t put too much stock in gloomy headlines. Think about your long-term goals and ignore the day-to-day noise.

Persistence Can Pay Off

Whether you support her or not, Hillary Clinton is persistent. She’s gone from first lady to senator and from failed presidential candidate to Democratic nominee, demonstrating her will to stay in the fight. And on the Republican side, it would be an understatement to say Donald Trump was considered a long, long shot at the start of the campaign, and look where he’s at now. Perseverance pays. Managing your finances requires the same attitude. Whether you’re struggling to stay on track with your budget, suffering a temporary setback with your debt elimination plan or are drowning under the weight of unexpected expenses, stay in the game. If you do, there’s a better chance of reaching your goals.

Stay On Message

Can you imagine giving hundreds of political stump speeches where you say the same thing over and over? Though you may tire of repetitive political messages, remind yourself of your financial goals frequently. Post pictures or reminders of them on the fridge, bathroom mirror, or as your screensaver if it helps. If you’re veering off your course, a little reminder can keep you on track.

The election is right around the corner, so try using these political observations to your financial advantage. Take that, Mr. Todd, wherever you are!

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