As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM professional and as President of Lauber Financial Planning, a Registered Investment Advisor, I have a code of confidentiality, so absolutely no names or identifying information will be shared here – or anywhere.
Some years ago I went to a conference on charitable giving and the advice I received (rendered by the so-down-to-earth-I-can-forget-how-brilliant-he-is John Brown) was to say to the client, “I don’t know if this will work for you but do you want to know what other people in your situation do?”
Do you know why this works?
BECAUSE EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW WHAT
OTHER PEOPLE DO WITH THEIR MONEY!
So let me help you indulge in some harmless financial voyeurism.
First of all, I don’t have any “silver spoon” (old money) clients.
That’s unusual for a financial planner but that’s the reason I started my business: to serve people who didn’t already have gobs of money. As a result, I work with people who are anywhere from $100,000 in debt (negative net worth) to over $10 million in net worth. Pretty wide spectrum, I know. You know what? The zeroes don’t matter; we all have our issues with money and are all trying to do the best we can – with many or few zeroes.
Almost every person who has sat in my office has said that they, “live comfortably, but not extravagantly.” In fact, they almost all use that exact phrase: comfortable but not extravagant (of course every one has a different definition of “extravagant”).
Most of my clients describe having been some version of “poor” growing up and saw how discipline and hard work served their parents, (“We didn’t have a lot of extras but we always had what we needed,”) and have allowed those standards/values/ideals to guide their life choices when it comes to money. As a result, most have good marriages, many friends, a faith life (however they choose to define it), and have made mostly good/beneficial financial choices.
Some years ago, when I asked a client what the he thought his best investment was,
he replied, “My marriage license.”
Most of my clients want to know:
- How to figure out where all of their money goes. In fact many people find me through the I HATE Budgeting (But I Like Having Money) support group. Believe me, you are not alone!
- If they can retire (some want to know if they can retire today!)
- When to take Social Security
- If they should pay down debt or use extra money to build their savings
- How to get on the same financial page as their spouse
- How much they need to put in their 401(K) plans
- How they can help their kids pay for college
- What to do in case they need some form of long-term care (an aide, assisted living, nursing home care)
Several years ago, when I was still in “traditional” financial planning (i.e. investment management), I started noticing that even though we were managing clients’ investments for their retirement, very few clients had any idea how much money they spent each year. My colleagues didn’t want to make the clients uncomfortable by probing into their spending habits but to me it seemed foolish to guess at a number that was guiding all of our work.
Now the majority of my financial planning is based on cash flow; what you need to live the good life (as defined by you).
Many of my clients are engineers, most of them have created their own financial plan and want a second set of eyes on their work, validation if you will that they’re on the right track to retire.
The bigger issue is that, despite running numerous calculations and analyzing all of the available information, engineers know there is information that is not available,
and it prevents them from taking action.
They end up stuck, what many call “analysis paralysis,” possibly a form of perfectionism.
“What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation.” http://www.PsychologyToday.com
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
If you find yourself unable to make a decision after weighing all of the options, here is an excellent article on overcoming this issue. And the financial planning process can help guide decisions based on what we DO know and what we CAN control.
This typically results in feelings of empowerment, which significantly reduces anxiety.
A colleague (and the inspiration for my business Sheryl Garrett) shared a very interesting article on expectations and happiness (or lack of): Almost everyone who is unhappy with life is unhappy for the same reasons. Your expectations and comparing yourself to others when it comes to money can make a good life seem less so. Please remember to be kind to yourself.
“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
~ Henry David Thoreau