I’ve been very fortunate to meet and be able to speak with author and founder of the Wealth Pilgrim, Neal Frankle, CFP — someone with a truly amazing and inspiring story. Not only is Neal a Certified Financial Planner, he is also a great motivational writer, blogger and speaker. He has appeared on radio and has published a book on investment strategy, Why Smart People Lose A Fortune, which comes recommended by none other than Tony Robbins and has three five-star ratings on Amazon. If you’d like to become a regular reader, you can subscribe to Neal’s email newsletter and his feed for free updates. You can also frequently catch Neal on Twitter @NealFrankle.
On The Inner and Outer Journey To Financial Freedom
What is your website, WealthPilgrim, all about?
I hope to be of service to readers. Ultimately, that’s what its about. The site gives me the opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope around financial issues. I want to provide knowledge so folks can make smart decisions. I want to help them gain clarity about their personal goals and values. I want to help them get off the couch and just do it. Even if they do it wrong at first, it’s better to get going and adjust rather than ignore these issues.
Your site mentions that you work on “financial stress management” – could you say a bit about what this refers to? In what ways do finances and our psychologies interact?
My experience tells me that financial stress comes from two main sources. First, when you behave (financially) in a way that is counter to your core values, it creates stress. An example would be a person who values family and security, but is an overspender, gambler, etc. S/he values one thing but lives a contradiction. This is stressful.
Also, people worry about things they can’t control. Everyone does this. If you’ve done your very best and the outcome is still negative, you have to learn to accept it. I don’t believe everyone can be like Elmer J Fudd – own a mansion and a yacht. I believe that everyone can probably do a few minor things that will have a significantly positive impact on their financial situation….but not everyone can be a billionaire. That’s ok…but many people stress about not being as successful as someone else when all they should really concern themselves with is doing the best they possibly can and accepting the rest.
I believe that how we feel about our finances is 10% a function of the objective reality and 90% a function of old tapes, shame, fear and greed. Anyone can be a peace with money….no matter what.
How happy do you think it is possible to be without very much money? Does it depend on the context, like where you live? Or does it depend upon a certain level of wealth – enough to meet certain needs? I’d bet that in a lot of cases, if we were to lose many of our possessions, for example, we wouldn’t be much less happy. What do you think?
First, I just love all your questions……you are wonderful at that.
This is a core question.
Shortly after I graduated college, I could fit everything I owned in the back seat of a Mini Cooper – if I could have afforded one. I was pretty happy then. I am still pretty happy but no happier than I was back then. I bet that would describe most people you speak with.
There is no question that our happiness has nothing to do with financial success. If you have a roof over your head and food on the table and your health, any financial anxiety you feel is there by decision and you can decide to get rid of it. If your happiness is a function of how much stuff you have compared to other people, you are always going to come out on the short end of that stick.
I volunteered for the Israeli Army when I was 30 years old. My life changed 100% in 24 hours. Before I joined I needed a great deal to be happy – great food, TV, people to listen to what I told them to do, etc. The day after I joined, my definition of “happy” changed 100%. To be happy in the army, all I needed was 2 minutes a day to speak to my wife on the phone and 5 hours of sleep a night – which I never got. That’s all I needed. People are wonderful at adapting. We all “want” a lot but we don’t “need” much to be happy.
You’re obviously a pretty motivated guy with a hugely positive attitude. What keeps you fired up?
What keeps me fired up is this ability to pull back the curtains on the investment world as I see it. It’s clear that we have real financial challenges right now but I do believe that many of those challenges are of our making. At least, I know that we can do many things to improve our situation. My vision is to help more people see that they can take baby steps and really make a difference. Also, I want to shed light on the fact that you don’t have to be super rich in order to be happy. Nobody has to feel poor – no matter what. I’d feel great if I get that message out.
Is this what got you started blogging?
I’m writing a book now with John David Mann. You may know him as the co-author of The Go Giver – (which is a great book). I started the blog to create a platform for the book but in the few months I’ve been writing, the blog has taken on a life of its own. I love it because I’m not trying to sell my services on the blog. I’m just putting it out there. I don’t really know what will come of it. I’m talking with a few people about starting to do tele-seminars and creating more materials. We’ll see what happens. Also, as long as I’m on a soap box, I have some huge bones to pick with the financial services industry, regulatory agencies and also with investors themselves. The blog gives me an opportunity to air that out and hopefully be helpful.
What are your favorite finance and personal goal-setting topics?
My favorite topics are how to have financial balance; how to stop spending money and time on things that aren’t important; and how to stop worrying about money. I also like to write about some of the silly things that happen in Washington and on Wall Street as it impacts our financial security. I like to have a little fun when I write sometimes and throw in some humor too. Who said money has to be boring?
Last question: if you were stranded on an island (and assuming you had your basic survival needs met) what two books (or other objects) would you most want to have with you?
WOW…. the two books I’d want would be:
a. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dave Carnegie and
b. The Four Questions
Both these books provide a blueprint for living which is all about getting over yourself. It’s really about being of service and overcoming the blight of selfishness. These books have helped me in that endeavor but they are still on my bookshelf so I’m not “cured” yet. I have found that they directly relate to personal finance because so few people have financial balance & the concepts in these books provide that balance in all aspects of life – even money. There is nothing wrong with saving money and/or making more money. But if we lose sight of the “why”, it doesn’t mean anything.♣
Next up we’ll be talking with MyLifeROI. You can also catch up on some of the other great interviews with bloggers in this series here:
How To Think Like An “Almost” Millionaire (The Almost Millionaire, May 1, 2009)
The Four Pillars of Wealth (Four Pillars, May 8, 2009)
One-Month Blogging Success Story (ManVsDebt, May 13, 2009)
One Guy’s Road From Stale Money to Fresh Finance (Suburban Dollar, May 22, 2009)
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