Sound familiar? Well, as Maria sings in the beloved musical “The Sound of Music”, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” I have three steps to help you answer this “How do I start?” question.
First you may ask yourself “Why now?” What’s happening in your life that you believe now is the right time to tackle your financial matters? It could be that you’re experiencing a financial mid-life crisis and you need someone to help you gain some perspective. Or you may be facing a job loss or a career change. Perhaps a child is preparing to go to college. Maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one and want to know how you can financially provide for your loved ones or how to survive yourself.
The reason will provide you with the will and motivation it takes to tackle your finances because it’s a lot of work on your part, perhaps more than mine. You have access to my experience, knowledge and education, but it is YOU who must do the work, just like an exercise regimen or a “to do” list. You must know why it is important to you or else you’ll continue floundering.
The second step is to determine what it is you want; out of life, from your money, from your financial planner. What do you want to change and/or resolve? You have to ask yourself these important questions and you must set aside time to think about what the answers may be.
“What time? Where am I supposed to find the time to think about stuff?” you may be asking. I know. It’s hard. I suspect many people struggle with this more than any other area of procrastination when it comes to money matters. No financial adviser can help you, despite a strong desire to do so, unless and until you’ve got this sorted out because we won’t know how to guide you until we know where it is you want to go. You must be very honest with yourself and you must be willing to share your results with your adviser. If you hire someone like me without having done this work, you’ll only be disappointed with the results because the recommendations will not be what you are truly looking for; I cannot fix what I don’t know is broken. Furthermore, if you go to someone who only wants to sell you financial products, you may end up purchasing something that isn’t remotely appropriate for you. This wastes time and money and you may not be flush with either.
The third step would be to determine when you want these things (retirement, to get out of debt, to go on a vacation, to buy a home, to give a large gift to charity) to take place. Time is Money’s good friend (I have a blog post about that) so the sooner you know what it is you want and when, the sooner we can get to work on aligning your resources so that you may achieve it.
If you’re having trouble getting to your answers, I can help you with my Confidential Financial Discovery booklet. Once the answers to these questions are identified, you will, I promise, find the motivation, drive, will power and discipline you need to manage your finances in such a way to achieve your stated goals.