Wiser Financial Advisor – Happy Birthday WFA and Aligning Your Finances with Your Life
Hi everyone, welcome to the Wiser Financial Advisor show with Josh Nelson, where we get real, we get honest and we get clear about the financial world and your money. This is Josh Nelson, founder and CEO of Keystone Financial Services. Let the financial fun begin!
First of all, I wanted to tell you some exciting news: This month is the third birthday of the Wiser Financial Advisor podcast. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of great people through our guests. Thank you for being on the show. I’ve also enjoyed being able to cover topics that our clients and friends want us to cover, things that people are maybe confused about or would like some more information on. It’s also been an opportunity to get to know some of our future clients here at Keystone Financial Services. We’ve had several people mention that they listened to the podcast as a way to get to know us and get to know me as their financial planner, and this podcast was one of the deciding factors that caused them to move their financial relationship to us.
I’m a Certified Financial Planner and people in my role get called different things, right? We get called financial advisors, financial consultants, investment advisors, financial planners; there are a lot of different terms, and it’s important to define who it is that you’re talking to and what they are actually doing. Are they just providing investment advice? Are they an insurance salesperson? Are they doing comprehensive planning, which is what we do. Comprehensive planning is the holistic planning that allows us to look at all areas of your financial situation and really make sure that your financial plans are aligned with your goals, your objectives, your dreams, the things that are important to you. And that’s a lot of what we’re gonna talk about today. But before we do that, I want to reflect back briefly on the last three years of the podcast.
Three years ago, this was just a dream. It was actually kind of daunting thinking about all the details that go into producing a weekly podcast involving not only providing content myself, but also arranging interviews with guests and understanding the technology. That was a big learning curve. We learned a lot and engaged with many new people. We made new friends and connections along the way, so that has certainly been fun. I do want to thank all of our listeners for your support and engagement. Many of you listen to every episode. Others just pop in now and again. So a lot of people have used this as an opportunity to introduce their friends, coworkers, or family members to us, simply because it’s a soft introduction. I can imagine that if I was somebody out there thinking about talking to a financial advisor, I might feel a bit of trepidation because you’ll be talking about stuff that’s pretty personal. Most people don’t know how much money you make, how much you’ve got in investments or how far, or maybe not far enough, you are in the process of building wealth. So it’s been an opportunity for people to introduce us to their friends.
So, today we’re going to talk about the connection between your life priorities and values and your finances. Often, people are not very thoughtful about this—and that’s not criticism. People are just busy. We’ve got so many distractions in our lives with business, professional stuff, kids, sports activities, maybe charitable stuff, other organizations you’re involved in, friends, travel… There can be all kinds of distractions out there, so it’s getting more difficult to think about what our priorities are. And then aligning our money with that, making sure that our financial decisions are lined up with what’s important to us also takes planning.
There’s no right or wrong here. Everybody listening to this have all been raised differently, so there are many different influences we’ve had along the way that have resulted in our value sets. Your personal values are not something that somebody else can define for you. Then using the financial planning process to organize everything around those values requires looking carefully at many components of finance. We often find that people want to do this popcorn style. They will look at their 401K, their investments, their insurance, their estate planning, and put it all in different boxes.
As Certified Financial Planners, we do comprehensive planning. That’s why this is so fun, because everything is connected. I can tell you from 24 years of doing this and having thousands and thousands of conversations with individuals about their money and their values: Everything is interconnected. There is nothing in the financial world that doesn’t connect to something else. And so it’s important to recognize that you can’t put things in different boxes and expect that they won’t impact other things. For example, any decision that you make around your income taxes could very well have an impact on your cash flow, your retirement plan, and maybe your estate planning.
When it comes to personal development, when I consume personal development content, whether that’s at a seminar or reading a book or listening to a podcast, what I’m after is somebody who can help me think differently. As a financial planner, my job is to ask good questions and help people cover these things and then put in some strategy around it, right? Once we know what’s important, then it gets a lot easier to plan. Personal development is a great way to help with that. If you haven’t done some examination on this stuff about your own values, there are all kinds of tools and tactics out there. Much of it is free. You can watch YouTube or listen to podcasts, but there are also some great seminars you can attend. I had the opportunity years ago to go to Tony Robbins’ ”Unleash The Power Within” event. At that event, the first night you’re there in the company of tens of thousands of people, (usually stadium events), people have the opportunity to walk on fire. The fire-walk is a great metaphor for getting through things we’re scared of and thus being able to open up to possibilities and understand that maybe something we’re afraid of or don’t have clarity on is very possible to do. You don’t have to walk on fire necessarily, but I always recommend personal development as a way to uncover some of this inner value stuff.
As Certified Financial Planners, we are trained to ask good questions and help you figure out the connection between your life values and finances if you’re looking for a bit of framework. Tony Robbins or other people can help you do this as well. But I do want to give you 5 things to think about with regard to figuring out what’s important and where you want to be.
#1 Reflect on what your values are in order of priority. Some things are more important than others. For example, for myself, my kids are really important. My kids, my wife, my family life, are really, really important. Could I be more successful business-wise or make more money if I spent less time with my family? Absolutely, certainly I could. But would that make me happy? Would that align with my values? No. I am really clear on that as an important rock in my life. That doesn’t mean that my business, my clients, aren’t important, but they’re not more important than my family.
#2 Create financial goals that reflect these values and priorities. You could also use the word targets, because you might be far away from retirement, for example. You may have no idea when you’re actually gonna stop working, but it is still valuable to set some targets. Those targets can always move. We can always adjust over time, but if we don’t have any kind of a goal, how do we know if we’re going to hit it? How do we come up with a strategy that gives us a high likelihood of hitting those targets, creating financial goals, doing the math, attaching dollar amounts and time frames to these things? And then we can reflect on them, look back and ask, “Does that match up with my values? Does that really reflect what’s most important to me?”
#3 Develop a budget and a spending plan that supports your goals or your targets, especially if you’re not on track with where you want to be. You could be at any point in life. Maybe you’re just starting out, just out of college or just entering the workforce. Or maybe you’ve been retired for a long time. You could be on either end of the spectrum and still not feel good about where you are financially. That’s a great time to go back, develop a budget, develop a spending plan that makes sure the most important things are happening.
My wife and I have gone through this exercise, going back through our spending to see where money has been going. Sometimes there’s stuff you eliminate because it isn’t as important as what you originally thought. One pro tip on this, by the way, is that every organization on the planet would love for you to subscribe to whatever their plan is to pay monthly, whether that’s for an app you buy or a gym membership. Anything like that, everybody’s trying to get you to sign up for a recurring plan. Often, they aren’t huge dollar amounts. Planet Fitness is famous for that. They have a $10/month gym membership and they’ve had that price for years. It’s so successful that you say, “Well, gosh, they never increased the price.” But the reason why is that they have a very high retention rate. People don’t tend to cancel their memberships—but do all those people actually go to the gym and use their services? Heck no. A small percentage of people show up on any kind of regular basis. So essentially, Planet Fitness has gained $10 a month for free, right? They don’t have to deliver anything. So when you go through your own bank statements and other statements looking for those recurring charges, consider whether those memberships are really important to you anymore or whether they could be some low hanging fruit to eliminate some costs and open up money that could be used elsewhere.
#4 Invest in ways that align with your values. Sometimes we call this ethical investing. Sometimes that makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. I throw that out there simply because most of our clients look at things from a dollars and cents standpoint. They look at their investment strategy and say, “Hey, I’m here to make money.” And our standpoint at Keystone is that our priority is doing the best we can to get you the highest return we can for the risk level that is comfortable for you, but we’re also thinking about whether there are ways your investments could line up with your values. One way to do that is what’s called a donor advised fund. That’s a way to take certain assets and donate them into a donor advised fund. There are some tax advantages to that. I’m not gonna unpack all that today because we’ve covered that on another episode, and it would take too long. But that’s one way that people can support causes they care about, by taking some of their investments and repurposing those for somebody else. Or they might say, “I’ve got very specific needs here and I want to make sure I don’t have certain types of companies in my portfolio; I want to make sure other types of companies are in the portfolio.” There are vehicles that can do some filtering and matching based off your value set. There certainly are ways that you can invest your money and have it aligned with your values. Again, your value could just be trying to make money. Nothing wrong with that. Let’s just make sure everything matches up.
#5. Regularly review and adjust your financial plan as your life evolves. When I first started as a financial planner, if somebody went to a financial planner, the planner would ask them a lot of questions and collect information. Then the person would come back in, pay a few thousand bucks, and get delivered this nice big binder of paper. It was fancy, right? It was kind of cool. But a financial plan is really only good for that day. It makes sense that a bunch of stuff is gonna change almost immediately in the economy of the world, in your life and maybe your priorities. It could be that you examine your own situation and make different decisions. That’s why we do comprehensive financial planning. We believe that is financial planning. We don’t believe in a one-time financial plan. This is a process that constantly changes. We need to adapt.
To review, adjust your financial plan as your life evolves, because it will evolve. There will be a lot of changes and many of those changes come about through things that we can’t control. In fact, most things we can’t control, but we certainly can go back and adjust and be thoughtful in our financial decisions.
Finally, I encourage you to share your own experiences on this. Talk to your family. Talk to us, start to articulate, whether verbally or on paper, journaling, things like that, about your own experiences so you can sync up your values and your finances. Maybe you’ve had bad experiences. That’s fine too, because that’s a learning process. I would definitely encourage you to take some level of action and do some writing, some thinking, some talking with your family or friends or financial planner.
Thank you once again for your continued support. This has been really fulfilling, to host the Wiser Financial Advisor. It’s a very fulfilling career to be able to act as a Certified Financial Planner, to act as your fiduciary. For those of you who are clients, thank you for your business. Many of you have been clients since I started as a financial planner many moons ago. Thank you for your business and for anybody you’re sending our way.
We certainly appreciate any feedback you have. We can be reached at www.keystonefinancial.com or www.wiserfinancialadvisor.com .
Have a wonderful week and God bless.
The opinions voiced on the Wiser Financial Advisor show with host Josh Nelson are for general information only, and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine what may be appropriate for you, consult your attorney, accountant, financial or tax advisor prior to investing. Investment advisory services offered through Keystone Financial Services, an SEC registered investment advisor.