I love this expression. It’s so descriptive
“Keeping Your Head on a Swivel” is a military term that means “be aware of what’s going on around you.” For a soldier, that could mean the difference between life and death. But in everyday life it’s critical as well because stuff happens! Pay attention, and be ready to change directions or priorities. We never know when we’ll need to respond to emergencies or changes in our lives.
Learn to anticipate, because you don’t know what the future holds
There was a time when people had jobs where they worked for 50 years and retired with a nice pension. Those days are long gone. There is no security anymore. You need to make your own security, and you can’t make it without some sacrifice and commitment. Long-term planning is essential
“Keeping your head on a swivel” is an excellent approach to developing financial management skills
Here’s an example of how it plays out with your finances. Jason and Ashley both have good jobs and together make a good income but sought my help because they were stressing big time. They were juggling $25,000 in credit-card debt when they were hit with a big, unexpected tax bill that they had no idea was coming.
They also learned that their deck had dry rot and needed replacing to the tune of $18,000. To put the cherry on top, disturbing layoff rumors were surfacing at Ashley’s company.
These financial setbacks didn’t seem to phase this couple
Ashley and Jason were taking these big-time bills in stride because they were still looking forward to their yearly trip to an expensive vacation resort on the California coast. They couldn’t wait to hit the pool and order fuzzy drinks at $20 a pop that—you guessed it—they put on their credit cards along with their suite with an ocean view. This couple badly needed better financial management skills.
Their heads definitely weren’t on a swivel
Unexpected expenses and a potential job layoff should have been enough to convince them to cancel that expensive vacation indefinitely. Instead, they were digging themselves into a deeper hole by not putting the brakes on their spending. Their luxury resort vacation could easily add another $5K or more to their credit card debt. They need to rethink the way they spend money. Learning to live within your means is possible, but it will take a few years for Jason and Ashley to dig out.
There isn’t a married couple out there who hasn’t experienced this kind of scenario and had to make difficult decisions. It might be a medical emergency, an expensive home repair, one partner going back to school, or the big one—getting kids through college.
Stay alert to the impact of macroeconomics on your budget
Situations change. Finances change. Personal lives change and money problems arise. We’ve seen the economy rise and fall over the last ten years with big ramifications for workers. The recession of 2008-2009 left millions of people jobless. They not only canceled their vacations but renegotiated their lives, canceling memberships to gyms, selling that second car and eliminating all of the expenses that weren’t mission-critical. Many people lost their homes and learned a bitter lesson about financial management.
This couple needed to change their relationship with money
Sacrificing their vacation is what Ashley and Jason should have to pay their taxes and deal with the dry rot which will only get worse. Then they needed to start paying down their credit card debt. That luxury resort is not a realistic vacation option for this couple’s foreseeable future.