Stocks have peaks and hit valleys. If properly managed, they recover from those valleys and move on to better days. Those not up to the challenge might go under. The value of a stock is certainly connected to the rise and fall of the overall economy, but it is also greatly influenced by the quality and focus of the people in the company. 

Just look at the past 2-3 years for examples. As of today, Apple is up 100% from its 2008 pre-market crash peak, and 300% increase from its valley.  Netflix over that same time rallied 700% from pre-crash prices simultaneously taking down giant rivals like Blockbuster to boot.  (According to Yahoo Finance) 

All of this occurred while the economy crippled along with economists pondering a double dip recession. 

On the flip side some stocks still have far to go. Citigroup traded in the 50/share range back in 2007, and as of today it won’t even fetch 5/share. Shareholders of the old GM are writing off their losses and Ford shareholders are relishing their win. 

There are times when an economic disaster, at least short term, affects most business. But where there is a problem also hides an opportunity. 

We’ve all been personally affected by the rough economy. If you are lucky to have a job the pay has likely been reduced, and most certainly your benefits have. Our home equity has vanished, and worse, some are even underwater with their mortgage balance. Following the lead of good business, have you used this disaster as an opportunity to strengthen your balance sheet? 

Did you know that many people have thrived in terms of overall net worth in these past few years? And they aren’t just the already rich “Wall Street” tycoons. They are people of “Main Street” just like you. They are people who look at their personal finances as if they were running a small business, and no matter the global economic conditions, they are taking steps to improve their foundation each and every year. 

I’ve long been an advocate for making personal financial decisions at a “business” level, and striving for perpetual growth. As the title of my book Wealth Is a Choice suggests, most wealth is not a condition of circumstances but driven by our own actions. 

If you, all the money you have, your income and your debts were actually a business – a stock that traded on the stock exchange – would you buy YOU?  Would you look at yourself as fresh and innovative like Apple or Netflix or a senior Blue Chip company that is flush with cash? Are you, the leadership team, making good decisions with your resources? Or do you believe that the economy is bad and there’s nothing you can do but fall victim to the conditions? Are your finances therefore projected to get much worse? 

The perception of your circumstance will largely drive the direction of your wealth. I see it happen all the time when working with clients. As many become more intimately aware of their role in increasing wealth, they become much richer. 

Regardless if we’re living in good times or bad, there are fundamental principles to help put you in control. Clients learn these principles while we work to manage their investments and planning. But I also make tools available for free on my website, www.jpstudinger.com under Free Resources, which can help get you on track. 

“JPS Four Decade Timeline”, “Good Asset Net Worth Statement” and the “Best Budget Ever” are free downloadable spreadsheets that can help you establish a strong foundation of financial planning. Together these hit three main target areas: 1) Knowing where you are headed, 2) Knowing where you are today, and 3) Gaining control over your cash flow/resources. Visit www.jpstudinger.com to learn more. 

There’s very little we can do to influence global economies, but good or bad, if you stay focused on core principles then you can gain control to further your financial acumen and wealth. 

Yesterday a client told me that he worked so hard throughout his career to make an income that he forgot to make money along the way.  Take an alternative path and look at yourself as a business and commit that this year you will make concrete improvements to build a stronger financial foundation. Consider yourself as a stock on the stock exchange. No matter if you’re in a valley or rising high, so long as you are making the right decisions and taking action to move forward, have confidence to invest in yourself.