Smart About Money: Do One Thing Different


If you’re struggling with your finances — and many people are — December is the perfect time both for reflection and for considering new ideas to bring you closer to where you want to be in 2013.

While it’s not presented as an “improve your finances” book, Do One Thing Different: And Other Uncommonly Sensible Solutions to Life’s Persistent Problems by Bill O’Hanlon provides a wise and useful method to actually start making some positive changes.

And you don’t even have to buy or read the book to get O’Hanlon’s main premise. It’s right there in the title. “Do one thing different.”

Bankers see people with every kind of money problem. And if there’s a common denominator that keeps most of them uncomfortable financially, it’s that they have a good idea or actually know the “one thing” they should be doing differently, but they refuse to do it.

Usually, they refuse to even consider it.

And that’s a shame. Because doing that one thing differently often makes the difference between a continuing struggle and a real light at the end of the tunnel.

One example: A friend called to ask my advice about her father’s situation. He sold the family home a few years ago and moved into a condo. While he is comfortable financially, he worries endlessly about the condo fee and assessments for various upgrades and repairs.

His daughter has suggested he sell the condo and move to a rented apartment in the same neighborhood. It would be a great idea — no more condo fee, no assessments, no real estate taxes, no worries.

They spoke to their accountant who strongly seconded the idea. I thirded it — it would be a smart move for him.

So “one thing” he could do is right in front of him. But her father has become more comfortable worrying (and complaining!) than seeing those worries as a blessing in disguise.

Dealing with change and even disappointment is never easy. It can take some time to work things out.

And, obviously, these ideas do not apply to people who encounter major, unexpected, plan-upending tragedies.

But for the much more common kind of financial struggle, very often good things do come from worries and from tough times for people who are willing to look at it as an opportunity for a “course correction.”

Seeking good advice and actually taking it may be the one thing you choose to “do different” in the New Year.

May it make all the difference in the world to you!

Nick Maffeo is the senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer at the Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. Have a question? Email to

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avatar Posted by on Dec 13 2012. Filed under Featured Content, Opinion, Smart About Money. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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