The Importance of a Stimulus
by Ben Simiskey on Oct 7, 2020
One of the hot topics in Washington, D.C. right now is a possible new stimulus package for the American economy in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. There seems to be consensus among lawmakers and economists that something is needed. But the specifics – including now the timing of any action – is ardently debated.
In that context, a stimulus package is an effort to use monetary or fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. These attempts are sometimes referred to as “priming the pump” – trying to jumpstart economic activity for the benefit of the country.
While the politicians debate whether the economy needs another stimulus package and how to go about it, let’s agree that human beings also need stimuli. We react to stimuli. It goes all the way back to our instinctive physiological response to threatening situations called the fight-or-flight response. Even inanimate objects need a stimulus, if we want them to move.
The dictionary defines stimulus as “something that incites to action.” When applied to personal finance, a stimulus, then, is critical. Personal financial planning must be about action, or it’s powerless. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” That’s a profound statement and one that applies well to financial plans and financial planning.
The financial planning process has several different steps to transform ideas into a plan and put the plan into action. The process is full of “-ing’s.” Determining, creating, implementing, monitoring, reviewing, revising, improving, course correcting, etc. And the success of the process comes down to the action taken.
Sometimes the stimulus we need to act is imposed on us. Often, those stimuli are painful. So, how can we be more proactive and create our own stimulus? It comes back to Eisenhower’s quote from earlier – “planning is everything.” We need to plan the stimulus.
One of my favorite authors, Michael Hyatt, says, “What gets scheduled gets done.” The 19th century English philanthropist, Charles Buxton, added, “You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”
Just like a stimulus package from Washington, D.C. is designed to jumpstart economic activity for the benefit of the country, our personal stimulus can be “something that incites to action” for the benefit of ourselves, our families and our communities. And the good news is, we don’t have to wait on Congress to make it happen.
TODAY’S ACTION ITEMS (Time involved: 5 minutes)
- Spend 2 minutes right now to create your own stimulus by scheduling a specific time in the next week when you are going to act on some piece of your personal financial situation.
- If you really want to supercharge the stimulus, make that day and time a recurring commitment.
- Add the scheduled commitment to your calendar and make that time non-negotiable.
- Feel good about taking the initiative to stimulate progress forward. And then consider running for Congress. Please.