Thursday, December 5, 2019

Shoot Close Up For Impact


“Shoot close up for impact” (SCUFI) is a great technique for taking pictures. One I will always remember because I have seen the benefits.  I learned this technique and others from a great instructor, Greg Johnson (The Tornado Hunter), in a two-day photography workshop.  The application and impact of this strategy are shown throughout this writing!  

We often say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  Guess what? This also applies to our financial circumstances.  One snapshot speaks volumes about our present situation; and when we apply the “rinse and repeat” process every year, we can measure our progress…all because we use the following special technique. Really!  



The creation of the Balance Sheet, also referred to as a Net Worth Statement or Statement of Financial Position, lists all the assets (everything we own) and liabilities (everything we owe) at a specific time in a calendar year. This special approach enables us to calculate our net worth, the difference between our assets and liabilities.


CIFP The Canadian Institution of Financial Planning


We are having this conversation now because a new year is rapidly approaching.  Scheduling an appointment with ourselves to do this on the same date every year develops into a new worthwhile habit.  This financial snapshot provides insightful information and comes in handy...

  • When we are applying for a loan including a mortgage,
  • When we are planning our retirement,
  • When we are developing our estate plan or writing our will,
  • When we are estimating our tax liability upon death,
  • When we are determining our life and property insurance needs,
  • When we are creating our wealth investment plan,
  • Or if we are resolving a divorce settlement.  


The initial commitment may be time-consuming but the effort will be valuable.  Once our first Net Worth Statement is created, only minor tweaks in following years will be required to keep the statement updated and current. 





The wheels of our progress will be clearly visible with each passing year and with the creation of a new balance sheet.  If we’re in a downward spiral and our net worth has decreased (rather than increased), then we know we are headed in the wrong direction and need to apply the brakes on “something”. 



You are invited to take a picture. Collect your financial information; list your assets and liabilities on a balance sheet; and then determine your net worth.  One client, who did this exercise, was astonished with the results.  He felt stressed by the impact of his newly-acquired car because he understood the impact of his newly-acquired car loan on paper.  He was dragged down with debt; and he could see clearly what changes he needed to implement. A financial picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s your opportunity to shoot close up for impact and see the results for yourself.

   






Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Missing Link





Even if you are not a football fan, you can relate to heartbreak.  Without a doubt, heartbreak manifests itself at the end of a football season.  It comes when a team doesn’t cross the goal line to score points in their favor.  After Sunday’s Western CFL Final, there is no scarcity of questions about “What happened” when our much-loved Saskatchewan Roughriders faced off against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  Three different times they were well-positioned for a touchdown and couldn’t cross that elusive line to score big even from only one and a half yard away.  You can also question, “How does this happen?”  The situation is tense; nerves are rattled; and confusion arises. The worst part is the number of attempts and the time on the game clock is limited.  You probably can see where I am going with this.

You may not realize it but we are playing the same kind of game.  It’s slightly different because we are not tossing or carrying a football across the goal line but we do have a goal in mind.  We are always playing and trying to score.  We make big plays to purchase a home, save for retirement, and pay down debt.  Guess what?  We have only so much time on our clock to do this.

I love the fact that the Canadian Football League (CFL) wraps up in November, the same month designated as Financial Literacy Month.  The connection between playing football and handling your finances is about creating winning strategies.  Neither of these are easy feats.  We need a well-designed game plan to execute winning drives to win football games; and we need well-designed financial plans to secure our future retirements.  Both require plans of action. 

Les Brown, a motivational speaker and author said, “Your goals are the roadmaps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.”  With this said, once we know what we want, we need the roadmap.   Ironically, a first crucial step in the financial planning process is “Establish objectives.”  Then, we require the appropriate direction to reach our objectives (goals).  



           
In an article, How to Overcome Behavioural Barriers to Reach Your Goals, Dilip Soman, Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Sciences and Economics Director, explained there’s a common behavioural disconnect in the financial planning process:  even though you’re eager to reach your goals, it can be hard to motivate yourself to write a financial plan.

“For many,” he says, “retirement is far into the future and the link between getting a financial plan made and their future well-being is tenuous.”


No one should question whether they can or cannot retire at a future date.  The answer shows up in a financial plan. Much like a football playbook draws up winning plays where coaches and players run the play, test for results, and tweak if necessary, a financial plan resembles its twin.   




Although retirement may seem far off in the future for some or may feel right around the corner for others, the question hangs in the air whether we will be able to make this happen.  Will we be able to financially cross the goal line from working to retirement?  Do we have the link to help us make that decision? 

The opening chapter of 10 things I wish someone had told me about retirement presents an excerpt from the website of Insurance-Canada.

“Canadians need to realize that retirement is not a 20 – or 30-year vacation,” says Monique Tremblay, senior vice president of Savings and Segregated Funds for Desjardins Financial Security. “People need to change their behaviours and start planning for retirement as soon as possible – earlier than the average age of 35 years old.  It is understandable that the extent of the planning and savings must be in relation to the needs and financial capacity, but a simple plan is better than no plan at all,” adds Tremblay.  “Retirement planning is not just about RRSP contributions.  People also need to consider the social aspects of retirement and how that impacts their finances as well.” 


My takeaway is we can’t fool ourselves into believing we can stop working because the calendar tells us it’s time.  We have reached the magic age.  We need to take a hard look at our potential retirement income to ensure we are not heartbroken when we discover we can’t afford to retire. We can take a lesson from the Riders' painful lost. 

In case you did not know, the Saskatchewan Roughriders faced the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last year in the Western CFL Final. Same teams. Same playoff game.  The Bombers came up with a win then to earn a trip to the Grey Cup but lost in the final showdown.  This year, Winnipeg pushed through their adversities and will try again for the prestigious title.  For the Riders, both losses evidently will cause them to look at their playbook and hunt for the missing link. Over these two years, changes were made to the coaching staff and the players but one thing stayed constant, the loyalty of the Rider fans.  Their support for their team is the best in the CFL.  When you think about your greatest fan, look no further than your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional to cheer and coach you onto a financial win.   Your missing link is the creation of your playbook, your financial plan.  Don’t you think it’s time you had one?  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

I Think I’ll Sit This One Out.

Medicine Hat Minor Hockey


It’s a tough conversation.  We create a fa├žade to show others we are living the good life.  As winter approaches (in fact it’s already arrived) the conversation around the office water cooler is happening.

               “So where are you going this winter for your holiday?”

Some people try to outdo each other with their winter destination plans or may do their best to pretend they can do so.  Others don’t have to pretend; they have saved money for their holiday. The concern is for those who haven’t. Their vacation getaway will be charged to their credit card to prove they can keep up the pace.

When will there be a time for the barriers to be removed and simply be honest? 

             “Our situation is a little tight now.  Our kids are in hockey; we need to purchase winter tires for the car; and our monthly utility bills have gone through the roof. And then there’s Christmas.”

               “I think we will sit this one out ~~no winter vacation for us this year.”   

Being honest about our financial circumstances isn’t something we practise very well.  No one likes to share their story about how tight their situation is but statistically new results are proving this is reality. The Globe and Mail printed this headline last week “As household debt reaches precarious levels, Canadians need to take control of their financial lives.    The article staged this important comment: The capacity to make smart decisions about personal finance is a critical skill for everyone. 

Maybe it's time to stop pretending and be realistic.  If we can't do things, buy things, go places, the best solution is stop and sit this out.  If we need someone to give us permission or better yet to lay the blame on someone else, just say, "My financial planner said, 'No more spending!'" 

Do you remember the days when your parents had to tell you, "No!  This is for your own good!"  Here's your chance.  Go ahead and assign responsibility to someone else especially if you can't take the  ridicule from family, friends, and coworkers about not "doing", "having", or "going" because it will cost money. 

The month of November is Financial Literacy Month.  This opportunity allows us to assess our reality and stop pretending. Playing charades about living the dream isn’t fun when we are drowning in debt.  If more people were honest, then more people would admit, “Me too!”    Peace of mind comes with having a plan of action to meet your short and long term plans. Our lists are individually unique and may be long. A young family with children–sporting activities and education plans.  A retired couple living on a fixed income–managing day-to-day living expenses and medical costs. Everyone--escalating utility and grocery bills.  

Borrowing the following message from the Globe and Mail article gives a plan of action. This can begin by encouraging open and honest conversations about our relationship with money. It’s an important way we can keep financial literacy top-of-mind with Canadians, and build the kind of financially security we all want, and our economy needs.



My stance: Everyone prefers to hide their personal struggles but that's not always the best strategy.  When we need help, the solution is ideally found from the wisdom of professionals.  Let's take a chance on them to see our way through our trouble spots.  This is one time you don't want to sit out.  This is the time you want to be part of the action. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Focus on What You Can Control





Many events seem totally out of our control; and that’s for good reason. Some things just are.

After Monday’s election results my heart was filled with sadness over the great division Canada is currently experiencing. The East against the West.  The urban cities against the rural communities.  The Liberals against the Conservatives.  Most Canadians thought the election campaigns, the “ugliest” in history, created a divided nation.  I have to agree. People were picking apart others’ flaws and parties’ platforms and policies.  Overall, as Canadians we should be grateful to live in a country which gives us the greatest freedom to choose and feel in control of our choices.  Where we live – where we work – where we worship – who we love – what we do – all rest with us.  


Hail-beaten canola swaths

The concerns for most farmers now are focused on completing this year’s harvest and crossing the “Finish Line”. The heavy frosts, shortened days, and definitely cooler temperatures do not permit the grain to dry down a smidgen.   Peace of mind and logic dictates what’s in our control and what’s not.  As they wrestle with the adverse weather conditions, farmers feel pinned down.  However, the hail, rain, and snow which delayed the harvest were out of everyone's control.  



We fret; we whine; we stew; maybe we even plot an inappropriate course of action in the face of our problems. People who are smarter than I am, shine a fresh perspective on a better way of dealing with problems.  In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey spells out effective life principles.

This list of habits falls under the separate umbrella of Private Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal. 

Habit 1:  Be Proactive (Principles of Personal Vision)

Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind (Principles of Personal Leadership)

Habit 3:  Put First Things First (Principles of Personal Management)

Habit 4:  Think Win/Win (Principles of Interpersonal Leadership)

Habit 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Principles of Empathetic Communication)

Habit 6:  Synergize (Principles of Creative Cooperation)

Habit 7:  Sharpen the Saw (Principles of Balanced Self Renewal) 




Dr. Covey identifies our Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.  Like he mentions, “We each have a wide range of concerns-our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war.”  But he wisely states, “As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them with a smaller Circle of Influence.” 

He explains in detail the best way to handle our problems is to first identify them by appropriately placing them in their respective area: direct, indirect, or no control. 

Stephen R. Covey writes:

The problems we face fall in one of three areas:  direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities).  The proactive approach puts the first step in the solution of all three kinds of problems with our present Circle of Influence.

Direct control problems are solved by working on our habits.  They are obviously within our Circle of Influence.  These are “Private Victories” of Habits 1, 2, and 3.

Indirect control problems are solved by changing our methods of influence.  These are the “Public Victories” of Habits 4, 5, and 6.  I have personally identified over 30 separate methods of human influence—as separate as empathy is from confrontation, as separate as example is from persuasion.  Most people have only three or four of these methods in their repertoire, starting usually with reasoning, and if that doesn’t work, moving to flight or fight.  How liberating it is to accept the idea that I can learn new methods of human influence instead of constantly trying to use old ineffective methods to “shape up” someone else!

No control problems involve taking the responsibility to change the line on the bottom of our face – to smile, to genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them, even though we don’t like them.  In this way, we do not empower these problems to control us.  We share in the spirit embodied in the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer, “Lord, give me the courage to change the things which can and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Whether a problem is direct, indirect, or no control, we have in our hands the first step to the solution.  Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence and changing the way we see our no control problems are all within our Circle of Influence.

His summation and encouragement are helpful when we face any problems-financial or otherwise.  Dr. Covey has given me food for thought to use when I am in a fretful state.  My hope is this assists you too.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Five C’s We Expect From Our Advisors


Have you fretted over an unpredictable situation?  My anxiety increases when I have to face my fears and need to be honest with my family, friends, and sometimes clients.  I am concerned our relationship may be jeopardized.  Perhaps you face the same dilemma. 


When someone has a problem or a concern, they may ask for our advice.  We realize our answer might not be one they want to hear.  Potentially they may be upset that we even suggested such a preposterous solution. 











 
Take this situation from a different angle. Imagine a tough conversation with your advisor about budgeting, succession planning, or a major real estate purchase. You need financial direction. Because of your solid relationship, whatever advice your advisor offers, you would certainly consider. You wouldn’t expect your advisor to be shaking in their boots afraid of your response. After all, you are counting on their expertise to help you analyze the best option.  However, you have to evaluate their qualifications and it’s acceptable to do so.


My top five C’s are intermingled with a few minor C’s.  Feel free to pick through the entire list of attributes. 



  
Competent

Because our advisors possess the professional knowledge, we trust their judgment. We simply cannot know all the fine details about a specific topic. Take tax planning as an example. The Income Tax Act is complicated to understand.  Not all the pieces of the tax legislation apply to everyone; however, we still need to filter through the pieces pertaining to our unique situations.

Whether it’s tax planning, legal advice, or insurance analysis, we are presented with many possibilities which make our final decision more onerous. Choosing what is in our best interest needs to be interpreted by a professional   This leads us to the next skill our professional advisor must possess.

Communicators

Because our advisor communicates effectively, we recognize the reasons behind their recommendations. They talk at our level of understanding. Quite often the industry’s jargon will fly over our heads so any strategies must be explained in easy-to-understand language. Logic dictates that if we don’t understand the plan, we won’t understand the benefits. Communication is a two-way street.  Our professional advisor may possess all the textbook knowledge but the real skill is delivering the information so we get it.

Imagine your accountant saying, “We need to complete the Section 85 Rollover Form” versus “We need to complete the Do-Not-Tax-Me Form”. Notice the walls of the language barrier self-destruct. When our advisor takes down any language barriers, they are building trust in our relationship.  We automatically feel an ownership in the strategy because they communicated their reasons effectively.   

Candid

Because our advisor is candid, we can trust and believe their advice is in our best interest. As our relationship continues to build, we develop a strong connection.  This ideal chemistry allows our minds to be opened to tough conversations when we are told something with sincere honesty that our way isn’t foolproof.
   
     “That vehicle loan you think you need will financially drag you down. The debt servicing  calculation shows where you stand.” 
        
This takes us to the next quality we should expect from our advisor.

Courageous

Because our advisor is undeniably confident, we can expect them to be fearlessly courageous with us.  Sitting on the other side of the desk in their office or around our kitchen table, we should expect our advisors to be courageously upfront with us even though we may not initially appreciate what they have to say. 

     “It’s going to cost us how much?”

     “You are telling me this is what can happen if I don’t do that?” 

Certainly, the expectation is there’ll be some objections (or pushback) when an idea is first presented.  But here’s the reality, we don’t need someone to appease us.  When they understand our situation and have the courage to tell us, then we are given the right information to make a wise choice.  We don’t have to like what they are saying to understand what they are saying is for our benefit.   

For any business, the two most difficult topics are succession and estate planning.  When business decisions impact an entire family, that’s a different ball game than selling a business and retiring with the sale proceeds.  This is when we expect our advisors to step up to the plate and help create a financial plan for a family business.  

Committed

Because our advisor is 100% committed to us, we feel confident in our decisions.  They presented all the facts, they completed their homework, they developed potential solutions, they explained the benefits and consequences of actions.  They have given their all (skills, knowledge, and expertise). When they hand in the assignment we have given them, then we can grade them on their performance based on our satisfaction. Most likely, they achieve a high mark because of their commitment to us.  When we are at peace with their advice, we can rest knowing our affairs are in order.

It’s a known fact that people in any sales industry (banking, insurance, dealerships, investments, etc.) have sales targets. Advisors who put our interests before their own earn our respect.  Our appreciation grows for the advisor who sets aside the target in the interest of doing what’s best for us.  Knowing our needs matter tells us our advisor is completely committed to doing their best for us. 




Togetherness

The next time you pick up a coin, pay attention to both sides.  You would agree neither side contributes more to its value.  The value is determined in unison. This truth applies to the relationship between our advisors and us.  The value of our joint relationship determines our success in our personal, financial, and business lives.   Neither of us (the advisor or client) should fear honesty because we are afraid of jeopardizing the relationship.  (In fact, the opposite could happen when we are not truthful. Our relationship may be compromised.)

When intentions are sincere and the advice is solid, the outcome will always be positive.  Great advice is directed to help and not harm us.  Regardless whether you are the taker or deliverer of advice, your relationship is built on a foundation of trust and respect and no one should have anything to fear. 


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Takes One To Know One




The rain keeps coming. There's nothing wrong with the rain...except the timing is off for farmers.  September means harvest.  It's not the beginning of September but in a few short days October will be here.  The forecast holds no promises of good weather.  In fact the opposite--rain and snow flurries.  Swaths lie in the field alongside some standing crops.  Not a good news story for farmers whose business depends on getting the grain from the field to the bin. 




Farmers understand farmers; and I fall into this league.  I am switching gears and putting on my farmer cap. My parents were farmers; my husband’s parents were farmers.  And so are we.   We farm in East Central Saskatchewan.


http://www.customcoaters.com/saskatchewan/



At a young age, I was introduced to intricate details of farm life. Pigs and chickens needed to be fed. Cows milked.  Grain hauled from the combine to the bin. Manure pitched by hand from corrals in the summer. Hay and straw bales stacked. If you grew up or visited a farm, you know these intricate details too.   

Yet there’s no place on earth I would rather live, be, and work…than on the farm alongside my husband.  As I look at the calendar, feelings of anxiousness mixed with concern and helplessness overshadow the joys of farming.  Because I am in charge of the bookkeeping for the farm, I can see the financial numbers will not look good when this harvest is done.  






The best we can do is look at our past years’ averages (5 or even 10-year average) and know better years will come again like they did in the past. 

In one of many blog posts, Kim Gerencser writes about the importance of knowing your financial numbers.  Not everyone enjoys the financial side of the farming spectrum but your financial statements tell your story to your bankers. And you also benefit from knowing where you stand financially. 

If you are a farmer, I direct you to Kim’s website, Growing Farm Profits, and encourage you to read his insightful messages.  He always ends with an inspiring call-to-action titled “Plan for Prosperity.”



Comrades do battle together. When we are in the farming trenches, we understand the uncontrollable and unforeseen elements and risks.   The best we can do is equip ourselves with knowledge, skill, and unwavering tenacity.  I might also add a heap of faith.     

Thursday, September 19, 2019

It’s Worth It




“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” ~~ Malcolm X

Whether you are a student looking ahead or an adult looking back, you would agree education is worth money to you.  Your idea of owning “things”, travelling to “places”, giving “freely” to others, or simply paying the “bills”, all rests on the need to have money.  A decent or greater income inspires dreams to happen. 



Our willingness to expand our knowledge and develop our skills molds us into a money-making machine.  We generally don’t see ourselves in this light but the reality is we must generate income to support ourselves financially.  How we choose to do this is entirely our decision.  We can all agree education or on-the-job training contributes to our success. 


Any form of education is never a loss cause. At any age you can switch gears and pick up new skills. An educational course may lead you on the path to becoming an agricultural mechanic, esthetician, or bookkeeper.  You may be focused on a career as a professional accountant, lawyer, or an oncology nurse.  Or perhaps your heart is set on being your own boss; entrepreneurs benefit from business management courses.  In order for your career to turn you into a money-making machine, you will need money to pay your education.  No surprise here. 






If you are the parents of young children, these three phases -- “before”, “during”, and “after” -- can fund a child’s education dream.  

The “Before” Phase. One option to help parents is a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).  In a previous article, I asked Have You Started Yet and explained the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) adds 20% to your contributions.    Early contributions alongside with the grant will compound with time and interest.  Going this route and having the extra financial assistance is worth it.  

The “During” Phase. Both the parents and students can fund the ongoing costs with a combination of employment income, savings, scholarships, or student loans. The Globe and Mail created this calculator to determine the annual costs. Working through the numbers helps plan an appropriate course of action.  If necessary a student may need to work part-time time and take only partial courses to cover both the tuition and living expenses.  

The “After” Phase. This phase, the “catch-up phase”, is when student loans should be repaid before additional debt is acquired.  The money-making adults are now able to generate income to pay back the loans which helped fund their education. 

The above phases appear most appropriate for young adults; however, I would never discount an opportunity for anyone willing to return back to the books. Certainly building up savings and applying for education loans may be suitable options for any person. With the right mindset anything is possible. Distance learning or educational institutions open the door for people to earn a diploma, certificate, or university degree and set themselves on a new career path. 

Certainly when we witness our income is less than adequate for our needs, we can always learn new skills to increase our earning ability.  Looking outside the box might reveal a clue as to how we can make this happen. We give ourselves permission to snoop around and gaze for an appropriate fit.  Who knows…an interest in a new skill might be discovered. When we discover our calling, we will know the cost of education was worth it.  



If you long to know the right career path for you, you may delve further and ask some soul-searching questions.  Your call to action can be found in this link and aid in your pursuit. The key is to keep hunting for the ultimate job because money matters and so do your dreams. It’s worth it!  

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What Will Your Reality Be?



The realization kicks in around the time we are in our forties.  We feel we have been working endlessly and begin to seriously contemplate retirement.  Will we be financially ready in fifteen or twenty years?  

Up to this point, we haven’t adequately saved.  When we glance at our bank or investment statements, we feel like someone’s been stealing our money.  But the stark reality opens our eyes. We don’t need to worry about anyone stealing our money.  We do a good job of spending it.  When we recklessly spend, we steal money from ourselves.  The harsh reality is we exchange our money for every simple pleasure life offers us now. The practical reality tells us we don’t have to give up living and enjoying life to save money.

Let’s be W-I-S-E about the ways we save and spend while we enjoy life. 

W – Wealth can be built up in multiple ways, both in our investment accounts and home (and other real estate). Putting yourself on “automatic” is the best way to accumulate wealth.  In David’s Bach’s book, The Automatic Millionaire, “automatic” means setting up payments to automatically transfer into a savings plan.  The concept is known as paying yourself first.  The first 10% of your salary belongs to you (to be tucked and hidden away) with the remainder directed to other needs.

I – Investing for the long term is a slow and steady process. We talked about the rabbit and turtle analogy in the previous blog, Connect the Dots.  Because things don’t happen as fast as we would like is not a reason for us to be discontented with the results. Think about someone dealing with a shoulder injury; the healing process cannot be rushed.  A child born today doesn’t graduate from high school tomorrow.  Because you invest $100 a month now, doesn’t convert you into a millionaire in a year.   The world view believes everything should instantaneously happen.  For certain things, like instant oatmeal which cooks up in two minutes or less, this is true but investing in the markets has its own philosophy.

S – Simply spend and borrow wisely. These two need your attention when everyone and everything whisper in your ear, “Why wait when you can have it now?”  Television ads, Facebook posts, and marketers encourage us to part with our money.  If we don’t catch ourselves when temptation knocks, we fall into its trap. 

This point comes from the book, The Automatic Millionaire.

“If we didn’t have enough cash to buy something, we didn’t buy it.  The entire time we’ve been married, we’ve never carried credit card debt. When we used the cards, we paid them off the same month.”

Can you say the same as Sue does?  The interest paid on any unpaid credit card balance squashes dreams.  We don’t want this.  

E – Enjoy life. You are encouraged to dream, the very premise of this blog website. So don’t stop dreaming rather “chase” and “create” the very things you desire to achieve.



Saving for retirement does not require discipline when you heed the advice of making savings automatic. The discipline is only required to set up the process. Your future reality will then take on a life of its own.  The reality of a comfortable retirement is yours to paint in the colours of your choosing.  Do you see the endless possibilities?     

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Money Can Only Buy “Stuff”




When is the last time you stopped to assess your life?  I wonder if your thoughts are the same as mine.  I look around now and am simply grateful.  My possessions might not be glamourous, my clothing stylish, nor my vehicle extravagant, but I feel content. Maybe contentment comes with age, travelling down life’s bumpy trails, or simply with gratitude.   I don’t know the secret prescription to this peaceful contentment drug but I know its importance. From a financial viewpoint, before we kick-start the financial planning process -- the “I want” stuff -- we may be wise to kick-back and evaluate what we have.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Money has never made man happy, nor will it; there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.  The more of it one has the more one wants.”   



The first step in the financial planning process is to set our objectives and rarely have we ever discussed the things money can’t buy.  Now I begin to believe we should. The list below compiles essential items we often overlook when striving to achieve financial success. Without a doubt, our financial goals are important.  The true objective is to strike a balance.  Getting to the end of our lives and having lost sight of these vital elements to a life well-lived and well-loved would be tragic. 




Recently, I stumbled upon a new perspective.  The material items we consider valuable today will end up in a heap of trash in the future.  We can easily trap ourselves into buying the new refrigerator with a single ice maker from Lowe’s, a gaming laptop from Best Buy, or a reclining leather home theatre sofa from Wayfair.  Enjoying a comfortable lifestyle needs to be weighed with building ourselves and creating meaningful relationships.



Can you see how easily we get caught up in the busyness of “doing” and forget the pleasure of “enjoying”?  We get absorbed in the having more “material stuff” and we lose sight of obtaining the “priceless stuff”.   As these relaxing months of summer come to a close and a new season of goal-setting and achievements pops up, let’s ensure our priorities include the “invaluable stuff”.