Where is your Focus?
What are Your Hopes? Dreams? Fears? Expectations?
Have you driven a car? Ridden a bike? Sailed a boat? Taken a walk?
Have you observed someone walking or even scarier driving a car or riding a bike and looking down at their phone? What did you see? The successful completion of their journey? Or some form of collision?
These are all examples of financial planning in action.
First ask yourself, “Where is your focus?”
Are you looking down at your phone or up to the horizon? Is your focus on the news that just happened or the text message you just received? Is your focus on the bigger picture of your future? Are you fearful of what may happen in the next few weeks or years or are you hopeful of the rest of your life? Or maybe you are fearful of how the rest of your life works out?
In my book, Rewriting Your Financial Narrative, I talk about how most people have a story or narrative playing in their head that constantly reminds them of what they think is their financial condition. Good / bad / Rich / poor / Optimistic / pessimistic. Sometimes the narrative is correct. But often the story is pure fiction and has no basis in reality. Sometimes the narrative is helpful while at other times that story is harmful to not only their financial situation but can be mentally and emotionally debilitating.
My first suggestion is to accept your situation as it is today. Good or bad. Don’t beat yourself up. The history is already written and cannot be changed. However, what is your situation? Do you know? If you don’t know, then make a list of what you own and owe. What is your income? And now the hard one, how much money do you spend? ---not what are your expenses---- but how much do you spend.
The process is the same if you are 45, 55 or 75. Retired or working for another 25 years.
Just like building a home or planning a vacation. You need a plan. The more detailed the better. How big will the house be; # bedrooms; # baths; how to heat; counter tops; flooring; materials? Where are you going on the vacation? How will you get there? Where will you stay? What do you want to do? How long will you stay?
Finally, whether it be building the house or planning the trip, what will all this cost?
So now that you know what you have in terms of assets and income and know what it is going to cost, you can plan how to make it happen. No different than a pilot filing his flight plan of how to get from New York to LA; the sea captain on getting the container ship from Hong Kong to Seattle; or driving from your house to the grocery store, then over to see your daughter and the grandkids fixing dinner and finally driving home.
You have to know where you are going, what you want to accomplish and the resources you have to work with. Look up to the horizon, survey all that you can see in front of you, set priorities, be willing to change directions if needed, maybe even make compromises, and always remember to have a good attitude and remember what is most important to you.
As a financial planner in Escondido and partnering with families not only in San Diego but all over the country, I am constantly reminded that every financial plan is a work in progress. I find some people with too much money and not enough ways to spend it. While others have champagne spending habits and cheap beer resources. But that is not the point.
The important item at the end of the day (I really mean the end of life), do you have any regrets. Usually, the regrets are not the trips missed, or the sports car not purchased. Life is really not about the stuff. Life is about the people. The relationships. The causes. Things bigger than me. More important than me.
Life is filled with compromises and trade-offs. As you work on your financial plan, I encourage you to think big. I am an optimist. I highly endorse an optimistic attitude. But also be realistic. Your financial plan is a living and breathing document. It is a work in progress and always changing. It is your road map for the adventure of life. It will get tattered and torn and perhaps even tossed and re-written. Enjoy the adventure. Focus on your priorities – what is important to you? Call me if you want to talk about your plan.
Fred Wollman, CFP®, MPAS®, AIF®
144 South Grape St
Escondido, CA 92025
Phone 760.737.2246; 800.354.4568
Fax 760.745.1239 firstname.lastname@example.org
*Investment Advisory Representative and Registered Representative of, and Securities and Investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC)
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, and the information should not be construed as individual investment advice, or as the opinion(s) of Voya Financial Advisors. CN1505871_0223