The missing ingredient?

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Feb 14, 2007 7:17 PM

In my continual search for excellence in my business, the home mortgage industry, I realize that every major company or product has a secret ingredient. I believe Coca Cola without its secret ingredient would be just another RC Cola. The BMW without the sophisticated engineering wouldn't be the ultimate driving machine. I am not sure what Victoria's secret is but it has produced an entire segment of our society believing in its uniqueness. And of course there are the fast food chains with their secret sauce that has been a boon to the cardiologist in America. (Probably not what they had in mind when they were developing the product).

Until recently my search continued to try and find that secret that prohibits people to do the best for themselves especially in the field of finance. Many have written that it is the lack of financial education that slams the door shut on the ability of people to help themselves. Perhaps! Others believe that people listen to those important in their life even though these influential people know less than those seeking their advice. Maybe! And still others listen to advertisements that seem to good to be true, are too good too be true and yet they are willing to buy into the babble they hear. Could be!

I think that I have found another reason that explains the behavior better than all the above. It is my secret ingredient, which at first blush seems ridiculous, but appears to be true. No one seems to want to help themselves in advance. Everyone wants to take care of the problem, financially speaking, when it presents itself. This is true with few exceptions. You might say that I am totally off the mark because hundreds if not thousands of people seek professional help with their finances, setting up plans and taking action, right from the get go. My answer, I am sure they do that each and every day of this year and every year. But here is the problem. Life means change, problems arise, goals are shifted and most people are still working the same plan. In football jargon if your opponent is continually running up the middle then it’s time to change your defense. Most people don't!

My secret which I have uncovered in the recent few days has taken me about 18 years to figure out and it wasn't that hard. It just took a little concentration and there it was right in front of my eyes. First allow me to give you a little background. For a number of years I have been helping people in the Southern California area simplify their financial plans and move forward with their life. At the turn of the century we went national and I started getting different problems of all sizes to chew on and come up with some answers. In the last few years the questions started coming in by email, a few at first and now about 50 a day, seven days a week. They all, or almost all, said the same thing that made me smile: they have listened to me for years and now they wished to take action.

That was the beginning of my understanding the secret. This week one email made it crystal clear and I finally understand. People take action when they need to, not when they should. I received an email from someone who had a mortgage, a second mortgage, credit card debt, a car payment, a loan from the credit union and needed some cash to remodel his house. Nothing unusual about that request. I analyzed his mortgages, 30 year amortizing mortgages, and his other debt and found that I could roll it all into a 15 year fixed and save him about $350 a month. Of course he also cut his mortgages, which were over 80% of his debt, to 15 years saving him about 12 years of payments. Last but not least I showed him that with all that he also got the cash out he needed and still saved $350 a month.

Something bothered me all day about the aforementioned problem and I wasn't sure what it was. Each day I talk with Hugh Hewitt before we do my segment with him and then I got it. The borrower said he had listened to me for years but he never took action. What it took to make him take action was a need on his part that couldn't be solved without the action. Here is the sad part:

IF HE HAD TAKEN THE ACTION EARLIER HE WOULDN'T
HAVE THE NEED! HE WOULD HAVE SAVED THE MONEY.

That was the secret I had been searching for: people won't take action when they should, only when they have to take it to solve a need. That is why people don't update their plans, their insurance, their physical condition or almost anything until they have to because of a problem. This is no way to run an airline. Can you imagine flying across the country with a pilot who isn't concerned about anything but simply waits until there is a problem and then goes about trying to solve it? Hopefully not with me on board.

It has taken a long time for me to understand and come up with my secret formula and it is a three word message. The message is: Act, Don't React! If you live by these words I truly believe your life will change for the better and stress will become a minor part of your life.

Now I am off to solve two new burning questions: How high is up and how long is forever?