Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Financial Character Traits: Part 2

By Dr. Jason White
Director of Investments
Family Investment Center

Dr. Jason White is Director of Investments at Family Investment Center and an Economics, Ph.D. at Northwest Missouri State University.

In a previous column, I attempted to apply what many of us believe to be good character traits, but in the context of our personal financial lives. I am using a list from several years ago that became known as the Northwest Missouri Culture of Character Traits. I have previously written about responsibility, respect, self-control and citizenship.

Compassion shows caring for others with kindness. Do we financially support community and charity? Time is money as they say, so that counts too. When the Ministry Center is accepting donations, do we give some of the good stuff, or do we contribute the lima beans more often than not? If religion is something we value, do we tithe (contributing 10% of income earned) to our Church, as scripture indicates we should? Or perhaps, are we working toward tithing – which is wonderful! Many of us feel financially compassionate toward charity and religion, but are we really doing our fair share?

My family’s personal monetary commitment to tithe and charity is better than it used to be, but still below the bible’s guidance. Giver and receiver benefit most when gifts are given happily, even eagerly, for all to truly enjoy fellowship and caring that stems from the act of giving.

Tolerance demonstrates an acceptance of differences and the uniqueness of others, while celebrating the common ground we share. Every one of us has different financial goals, savings proclivities, spending habits and risk versus reward tolerances. I may be a big spender, while my neighbor is much more frugal. Does that financial difference make one of us a better person than the other? Clearly not. Financial tolerance recognizes that not all of us value and treat wealth and money in the same way, and that is okay.

Honesty is being truthful in what we say and do. Are we always honest with our family, friends, associates and clients? Perhaps more importantly, are we completely honest with ourselves? Do we sometimes sugar-coat the risks of an investment opportunity by overstate potential rewards, and ignoring the real risk of loss? This Great Recession has been difficult for those who may not have clearly understood their own reactions to loss and volatility.

Cooperation champions working together toward a common goal. Families do this all the time. They may institute a program of thrift, pinching pennies to save for various goals: a house; a new car; a college education; a retirement; or maybe a dream vacation. Having cooperative advisors on a personal and professional level can make life so much easier and more rewarding.

That’s eight financial character traits down with four more to go in my next column.

See you soon!

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