You have been doing well for yourself. You have made good money and accumulated a reasonable degree of personal wealth. But, in your gut, you fear you could lose it all. You could wind up in poverty.

What would it be like to wake up one morning and find you are losing your business and your home. What will your spouse and kids think of you? Hard thoughts are they?

How about thinking about it from another perspective? What steps can you take to reduce the odds you will ever have to wake up to that nightmare? That is also possible. To a large degree, it is up to you.

So what are the early warning signs?

  1. You have no financial plan.
    Naturally, you would expect a financial planner to say this, right? Well, it is said for good reason. Someone much wiser than I has written:Proverbs 10:4
    A slack hand causes poverty,
    but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

    Proverbs 6:10-11
    A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
    and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.

    These proverbs could be said to apply to laziness or slothfulness, and they certainly do, but by extension, I can just as easily extend it to a lack of planning. Planning takes work.

    Looking at it from the opposite angle;

    Proverbs 30:24-25
    Four things on earth are small,
    but they are exceedingly wise:
    the ants are a people not strong,
    yet they provide their food in the summer…

    The ants, who work all summer storing up food for the winter, are seen as planners, they look ahead and make provision for the future. Planning and acting on future contingencies is an early warning sign of success.

    Proverbs 21:5
    The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

  1. Obsessing over getting rich.
    It is one thing to have a plan and to execute on that plan to gain some degree of wealth and provide well for yourself and your family, it is quite another to obsess over being rich. It is this desire to be rich that allows some to give in to temptations to cut corners and take unethical actions to gain riches.I refer to one of the most oft misquoted Scriptures of all time. Money is not the root of evil, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.

    1 Timothy 6:9-10
    But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

  2. Too much confidence in your wealth.
    It is hard for some of those who have accumulated significant wealth to ever imagine losing it. But we all know stories of wealthy people who have come on hard times and lost their wealth. Why should we be so confident to assume it could never happen to us?Being confident in your current state of wealth won’t necessarily result in financial doom, but focusing on your wealth as the source of your joy and satisfaction in life will leave you coming up short in the fulfillment category. That is why Paul told Timothy to instruct the wealthy to not be haughty about their wealth but to put their hope in God rather than their wealth.

    Having wealth is never condemned, in fact, it is the wealth holders who are encouraged to be rich in good works, to be generous and share. That is where the real wealth comes to those who have accumulated financial wealth.

    1 Timothy 6:17-19
    As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

    Proverbs 28:22
    A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.

  1. Refusal to learn and grow.
    It has been said that to lead, you must read. In other words, a leader must be a constant learner. If you have been fortunate enough to gain a degree of wealth and refuse to continue learning and adding to your storehouse of knowledge, you may one day find yourself in poverty and disgrace.It seems to me that this is particularly true of small business owners. Things change fast, and if I don’t adapt to the changing world around me, I will be left behind. Tax laws change, employment laws change, disruptive new technology is created and impacts the competitive status of my business. I must keep myself aware and adapting. I must not ignore instruction if I don’t want to have poverty and disgrace come upon me.

How about you?

Proverbs 13:18
Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is honored.

Have any of these early warning signs spoken to you? Would you like to have a conversation about any of these warning signs? Feel free to contact me at

Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version.

about the author: Charles L. Stanley CFP®, CHFC® & CKA®

CharlesStanley640x640Charles L. Stanley CFP®, CHFC® & AIF® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a Chartered Financial Consultant, and he holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation. For more than 20 years, Charles has served retired physicians, business owners, corporate executives, retirees, and widows, helping them with their estate planning, tax strategies, risk management, investment selection, business succession, and retirement planning.

Charles is a co-author of T.A.S.K. – The Trusted Advisors Survival Kit, published by LexisNexis and is the founder and editor of Capital Markets Magazine: Investor Education for Main Street America. He recently published Forewarned is Forearmed: How to Make an Annuity Purchase (or not) You Will Never Regret. Additionally, he has been quoted or published in the Journal of Financial Planning, San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego Daily Transcript, American Funeral Director Magazine, Canadian Funeral Director Magazine, The Bottom Line – Independent Voice for Canada’s Accounting and Financial Professionals, Financial AdvisorPro, The Family Business Advisor, and Christian Businessman Magazine and was a contributing author to How to Manage a Million Dollars or Less. He also hosted Senior Money, a radio talk show heard on KCEO AM 1000 and he has appeared as an expert witness in both NASD arbitration and San Diego Superior Court.

Learn more and/or Contact Charles

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