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Making sacrifices is key in business, personal finance

May 9, 2011

Mick Hall is still going strong after 24 years in Sterling

This past week I had a chance to visit with Mick Hall. Mick has been a broker with Edward Jones for about 27 years with the past 24 years in Sterling. I really enjoyed learning from his experiences, not just on financial planning, but also on what it takes to be a successful small business owner.

One of the points that Mick told me is that in order to be successful, you have to be willing to put in the extra time. This especially is true when starting a business. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to make sacrifices. If you want to just work from 8 to 5 five days a week, staring your own business probably is not the best fit for you.

On a related note, if you want to be successful with your personal finances, you generally need to either make more money or spend less. The interesting thing is that there are some similar strategies that can help you on both ends. One is to be willing to go above and beyond and make sacrifices others are not willing to make.

On one side of the personal finance equation is to earn more money. If you are an employee, going above and beyond can help you get a promotion or a raise. What is common? Putting in the base amount of time, occasionally checking your Facebook account or personal e-mail, and meeting your basic job expectations will keep you employed, but probably will not get you ahead.

To increase your income, go above and beyond what is expected of you. When you are at work, work. Look at what is important to your employer and figure out ways to deliver results that will impress your boss. There will be times this will put you in an uncomfortable position. It may make some of the people who work around you look worse as they do what is common, but in the long run it will pay off for you.

After all, you are at work to get yourself ahead. Make your bosses look good and do not worry about any jealousy that may come from co-workers.

On the flip side, sometimes making a few sacrifices on your spending side will also help you out. By being willing to put more money into retirement investments and a little less on your daily expenses, you can change your entire retirement situation.

This may mean skipping the daily coffee, packing your own lunch, or putting off major purchases such as a bigger home, newer car, or taking a nice vacation.

This is difficult because you need to defer gratification. We know what will make us happy right now. It might be spending a little extra time on Facebook at work or taking a big yearly vacation. This brings us satisfaction today. The challenge is to defer this satisfaction for a more secure future.

If you start saving right away when you start working, you may not see the benefits of this for more than 40 years. When we look at, “Do I want to be happy now, or do I want to put off a little happiness now for a more secure future?” it is a tough decision.

So, is it worth it? Let’s go back to see what Mick Hall has to say. Toward the end of our conversation Mick told me, “I’ve lived a charmed life.” After being in the same business for 27 years, I think it would be easy to get a little bitter or to have regrets. This is not the case for Mick. It appears he has no regrets. He is a champion for the company for which he works. He has a twinkle in his eye and a calming sense of contentment.

It appears Mick made the sacrifices. He sacrifices his time to build his business. He was willing to do what others would not do in terms of committing himself to the firm. These sacrifices early on have put him in a position where he can start to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

I can only hope that I can enjoy that same contentment 30 years from now.

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