Financial Planning is About Your Life, Not Your Account Balance
2021 – 04/14
What comes to mind when you hear the term financial planning?
For many people the idea of financial planning comes with lots of baggage. The term may bring to mind investments, budgets, cash flow planning or unfamiliar financial jargon. Maybe you imagine sitting and pouring over piles of paper representing your financial holdings and obligations. It may feel like a chore you’d rather avoid.
More importantly, what feelings come to the surface when thinking about financial planning?
The emotional connotations of financial planning can be quite intimidating. When the subject comes up you may feel stress or discomfort, or worry that the process will be overwhelming or, just as bad, boring. Planning may trigger the same feelings as other check-up obligations in your life, like annual physicals, dental appointments, insurance reviews and so on. These are appointments we know we need to make and keep, but don’t especially look forward to.
Guilt can creep into your thoughts, where you worry you may have to explain away neglect of healthful habits – not enough vegetables, exercise or flossing. Similarly, maybe you’ve gone into a financial planning meeting with a pre-prepared answer for something you worry you may be scolded over.
Stay focused on your life and family
While all these thoughts and emotions about measuring up to external expectations are common and understandable, I suggest financial planning can and should be a positive experience that starts internally. Your dreams, your worries and what you value should drive the process. Indeed, the process is more about your life than it is about finances. The process should be about your life vision.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with my mother and do some financial planning. My dad passed away several years ago. He was always the person who handled the financial side of things in the family. My mom has since been hesitant to talk about financial planning, in part because it scared and overwhelmed her. Her financial statements confused her. She didn’t fully understand her financial position, but was hesitant to ask me for help because she feared a bad “diagnosis.” It was easier to just avoid the topic.
When I promised her there would be no scolding or guilt, she sent me copies of her statements ahead of time. As we started our conversation, my mom sat there poised for me to prescribe the plan I had in mind. I let her know that I had looked over the statements and had a clearer understanding of where her finances stood, but what I really wanted to know was what she wanted for herself. It was time for her to talk, not listen.
What’s really important to you?
At first, I think she wasn’t sure what to say, but eventually she burst into her vision for her life. She mentioned many things she wanted for herself she had not previously mentioned to me, even as her son. Most of her dreams were about experiences she hoped to have, not material items to acquire. Through this conversation she started to understand that she is the architect of her vision. I could help her engineer her vision, but it must be her own.
After that, I saw in my mom’s eyes a new confidence about her financial situation, a new ownership of her finances. Since then we’ve been able to work on her plan without triggering the feelings of anxiety she had previously experienced when the subject of finances came up.
How to get started
The professionals at Bland Garvey Wealth Advisors can invest and put in place the other elements of a financial plan, but the real starting point is to think about your priorities, dreams and goals. Perhaps begin by considering what you want for your family and relationships, your work and career, your health and wellness, and your interests and the causes you are passionate about.
Despite any preconceived notions you may have about financial planning, it can be interesting and energizing. We look forward to getting the conversation started. Schedule your LifeDiscovery Meeting with Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org