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Common Cents

Tom and John Mills' Common Cents: Would you pass this financial fitness quiz?

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Self-help guru Jim Rohn once stated that we are an average of the five people we spend most of the time. This idea quickly gained popularity but was also criticized by others.

I don’t think Rohn’s idea was backed by scientific evidence but was an attempt to make people think about whom they allow themselves to be influenced. People need to choose influencers that will elevate their lives for good.

I would encourage everyone to do an inventory of those they affiliate with. Are our closest associates an influence for good? Occasionally kicking people out of your life may be necessary, but usually, becoming the influencer for good is a better choice.

Financially, there IS scientific evidence that the finances of those around us significantly influence our decisions. People adopt the financial habits of those with whom they affiliate most closely.

That adoption of financial habits has been the cause of many lifting themselves up and also the cause of others remaining in intergenerational poverty.

For some reason, it has always been easier to see others’ faults than to see our own. For that reason, people are often unaware when they make terrible financial decisions that significantly diminish their options in life.

When those around us are in terrible financial circumstances, it becomes nearly impossible to know there is a better way.

We all need an opportunity to gain a perspective from an outside source.

Rutgers University created a financial fitness quiz that I think can be valuable to anyone who desires a financial assessment.

I encourage anyone who reads this to Google “Rutgers Financial Fitness Quiz.” The search will lead you to a two-page PDF document. This quiz asks twenty questions concerning several aspects of personal finance.

Each question is answered by how frequently a particular activity is completed. If a specific activity is always completed, then 5 points are awarded if an activity is never completed, then a score of one.

At the end of the quiz, total up the score. Those with the best financial habits will have a score between 81 to 100. Those with the worst financial habits will have a score under twenty. The quiz offers a short piece of advice based on your score.

If you take this quiz and have a score below forty, you need serious help. It is time to get educated financially and begin to make good decisions. It is never too late, and even small choices can improve your life quickly.

I’ve learned over time that those who read this column or any other financial column tend to make sound financial decisions and may not need this financial fitness quiz. I hope this quiz gets shared with those who need help.

If you have difficulty finding this quiz online, please reach out to my office, and we will send you one.


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Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155 or Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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