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Musings #1

I had a brain blast today when I thought sheesh… I haven’t started my blog yet, which needs to be posted today. And this brain blast is that I’m just going to open a Google Sheet and just write what I’m thinking about. So, probably unstructured and barely edited. But this will be a great cop out from a well thought out post in the future for me any time I’m not inspired by a topic. I hope it is worth your time.


That's the cool part about running my own blog - I can do whatever I want :)


Oftentimes, I get questions like “should I do ___ with my bonus / money / anything really?”


I don’t always feel super helpful with my response… but as a planner I typically say, “IDK, should you??”


Financial planning is often seen as a roadmap to get rich (thanks, TikTok), but it is not that simple. Which is exactly why I still have a job as a financial planner.


If it was as easy as “do *this* and you’ll achieve financial success”, life would be boring in my opinion. Because that would mean we are all the same people! Same goals, looking for the same outcome, and generally taking the same steps to get there.


We all have different goals, thoughts, behaviors, feelings, etc. This all gets factored into finances.

I’m a numbers guy. I never thought going into business and finance when I chose that major back in college that I’d be helping people with their feelings. But, sometimes I do. Money is extremely emotional, and we all have different upbringings and feelings towards it.


The financially comfortable individuals aren't typically the ones who are the best at math or understand data the best.


When I say “financially comfortable”, I’m not talking about the Bezoses and Musks. There are way too many nonfiction books that use them with Zuckerberg and Gates as examples for everything, and they dropped out of school, and blah blah. 🤮


But, I’m talking about those who have enough money to live the life they desire - they are typically the ones that have the strongest behaviors. They’re not smarter financially than everybody - they just took the time to understand how to live below their means, save money, and consistently invest.*


*I have no data to back this up, but I feel pretty good about this assertion.


There is no perfect formula - how often do I have to hear about studies about millionaires and how you can be like them if you do what they did…


Not everyone wants or needs to be a millionaire! Maybe in the future because of inflation, but not today. A million dollars is an arbitrary number that is set as a goal post for everybody. Even though we all have different goals and different things that make us happy! What!


There is no perfect financial “roadmap” because everybody feels differently about money.


Each person has a different appetite for risk. Maybe starting a business helps some achieve their financial success faster - but for others they would lose sleep every night stressing over the pressure or the responsibility of running that business.


Oh you’re young? You should be investing in stocks to get the highest return until you retire in 40 years! That is great advice, until you can’t fall asleep at night because of the volatility in the stock market due to the impending doom of a war in Ukraine, or a global pandemic.


What am I really trying to point out with all of this? Here are some thing to set the baseline for financial success:

  1. Build strong behaviors. This is in the form of spending less than you make, saving the difference, and investing often.

  2. Build the behaviors that work best for you and your psyche. The worst plan is one that you can’t follow through with, because it doesn’t fit what YOU personally need.

What will benefit you the most is something that is easy for you to understand, and easy for you to implement. Something that will keep you on track - not something that is burdensome, takes a lot of time, energy, education, etc. Start simple and adapt as you go.


Now, did I just give up the secrets to financial success? Is that seriously my entire service to my clients - teaching them to behave better??


No… that is a bit oversimplified as we all know personal finance can get extremely confusing. What does “invest” even mean? Should I do that in my 401(k), Roth 401(k), IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, Roth IRA, Solo 401(k), Health Savings Account, Robinhood, Crypto, etc.


Should I buy a rental property? What specific investments should I buy? Should I get life insurance and start funding my child’s education account?


And what the hell is a restricted stock unit?


Yea, I get it. There is a lot of technical knowledge that goes into financial planning, way beyond what I just mentioned.


But, nothing takes away from the baseline fact of setting behaviors that are enticing to you and conducive to what you are trying to achieve.


You can always hire somebody to help you with the technical aspect, but you cannot outsource your behavior.


Finance is more behavior based than numbers and data based. So, I suggest you start putting a bigger focus on your behaviors and stop using lack of financial knowledge as a reason for feeling behind in your finance journey.


Oh, and stop watching and / or following the financial advice of TikTokers.