FLM Step 10: Personal Marketer discusses how to set financial priorities... & remember them!

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we created a microsite that offers 30 simple steps to financial wellness–one for each day of the month. To enrich the experience, we asked some amazing people to guest post during the month on a topic that is related to the day’s step. Their dedication to financial literacy is truly inspiring! Today, Lynn Brem, a pioneer in the field of "Personal Marketing," discusses setting priorities from the perspective of personal marketing.

Setting priorities is an essential step toward gaining control of your financial life because if you don't identify your own priorities, legions of others will be happy to fill that void by telling you about priorities for your money that are important to them.

For example, it's important to someone that you:

  • Care about the labels on your clothing
  • Max out your credit cards for Christmas gifts and then take most of the year to pay them off
  • Purchase diamond jewelry for the same gift recipient a few weeks later to prove again that you really, really love her
  • Order products you see on infomercials
  • Buy a new automobile every few years
  • Fill your home with useless plastic trinkets
  • Own a larger flat screen TV you can possibly afford
Are those the priorities you have for your own life? Some of them may be, but other goals might feel even more important:
  • Control your time
  • Own your home
  • Get free of debt
  • Retire comfortably
  • See the world
  • Contribute to a cause you believe in

There's no reason you can't have anything (or everything) on either list above if you consciously decide you want it and are willing to put in the effort. The trick in our ad-saturated, media-driven world is to keep your own attention on that decision long enough to take the many small steps necessary to get there.

That's where personal marketing comes in. Once you've identified your financial priorities, Take Back Your Brain! suggests that you go one step farther and create a marketing campaign to remind yourself about them.

What this means is that you create images of yourself having the life you want and then find ways to expose yourself to them automatically. Just like the commercial advertisers do, any way you can get the marketing messages in front of yourself is fair game. So use screen savers, slide shows, computer wallpaper, the bathroom mirror, digital photo frames, text messages, voice messages, clothing, rear view mirror, the refrigerator -- anything you can think of to expose yourself to your own advertising many times a day.

Once they're in place your "ads" compete with the flood of other input you receive every day to remind you about your priorities. Each time I see one of these pictures it brings my attention back for a moment to something important I have chosen for my own life. Soon I notice myself thinking of ways I could get there. And over time, I take more action (and therefore get better results) on priorities I advertise for, than those I don't.

These personal ads are even more powerful if you find an emotional hook for your goal. So when you're filling out the worksheet for Step 10 I recommend that you make an extra column and write down why you want each priority on your list. Later you can shamelessly exploit that underlying desire to fuel your personal marketing campaign.

To read more about how to create marketing for yourself, Lynn invites you to visit Take Back Your Brain!

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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