Dollars and Diagrams

4 Ingredients for the Perfect Recipe for Financial Independence in 2020


“Money is only a tool.  It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”

 –Ayn Rand

A new year (and decade) is upon us and many of us have made resolutions pertaining to our finances.  Luckily, I think I have a great recipe that will provide a foundation for your financial future.

Ingredient #1:  Grace

If you are like most Americans, you probably wouldn’t describe your finances as picture perfect.  Give yourself some grace.  There is a reason why the rear-view mirror is the smallest on your car. Let the past go and move forward.

Ingredient #2:  Prioritize

Financially, what are the things that you want to accomplish?  Make a list and rank them from A to Z.


  • Charitable Contributions
  • Protection (Life Insurance & Disability Insurance Premiums)
  • College Savings
  • Retirement Savings
  • Emergency Fund
  • Saving for Holidays & Gift Giving
  • Saving for Vacation

Ingredient #3:  Pay Yourself First

Now, you have successfully created and ranked a list of your priorities.  Before any money gets spent, you put money into your priorities.  You live on the balance.  Let’s say you have a monthly household income of $8,000 and you need to set aside $3,000 to fund your priorities. You must then live on the balance of $5,000 for the remainder of the month.

I believe that most financially planning is completed backwards.  You list all your expenses and then you fund your priorities with what is left.  What happens?  Priorities do not get funded because it is too easy to let life happen.  Be selfish.  Pay yourself first!

Ingredient #4:  Cash or Debit Card

Are there great cash back credit cards that exist today? YES.  Are there great rewards credit cards that exist today?  YES.  Should you use those cards? NO!  Study after study has shown that people who use credit cards spend more money than those who do not.  It is too easy to swipe the card.  The pain of seeing the cash leave your hand is real.  The pain of seeing your checking account balance go down with every swipe of your debit card is real.  Embracing this pain will help you reap financial rewards.

This is a pretty simple recipe, but I think you will find the result is quite delicious.  I hope you find 2020 fulfilling and prosperous for you and your family.

About the Author:

Nic Nielsen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who lives in Waxhaw, NC.  Nic and his wife, Jessi, are proud parents to 3 young children (6, 3, & 1) and 3 wonderful dogs (2 toy American Eskimos and 1 Australian Shepherd).  The Nielsen’s are also members of Forest Hill Church in Waxhaw.  You can often find Nic in the mornings at the Wesley Chapel YMCA.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA & SIPC. Investment advice offered through Independent Advisor Alliance, a registered investment advisor. Independent Advisor Alliance and Know My Plan are separate entities from LPL Financial.


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