Financial Life Planning: A Roadmap to Your Best Life
June 14, 2023 | By Matthew Gordon, CFP®, RLP®
As financial planners, we get to assist people on a quest. Simply put, our job is twofold.
1) Figure out what someone’s goals are and 2) Set them on a proper path to achieve their goals.
It is important to be good at both aspects. In this Insight, I will focus on the former.
Goal-Setting in Financial Life Planning
I have seen and used plenty of questionnaires. What I have learned is that while there is no one perfect way to establish goals, there are some clear signs when a goal is on point. Meaningful goals carry some emotional response just thinking about them. The response could be powerfully upbeat, or it could be tear-inducing. If the goal is not delivering emotion, we should keep working on it.
There are a few questions I like to ask.
What gets you excited to jump out of bed every day?
What does an ideal day, week, month, year look and feel like?
Is there some aspect in your life that you want to change?
After asking these and some other classic questions, the key is to listen to the answers. I understand that we may not want to engage in such introspection all the time, and that is fine. What we can do is offer up the space and pay close attention when the moment is right.
Balancing Time and Money in Financial Life Planning
I have had the privilege to witness some wonderful breakthroughs with clients. In one case, a client expressed how his work was too demanding. He wanted to have better control of his day. He was not able to spend as much time as he wanted with family. It sounds like the typical work-life balance issue, but as we explored further, we uncovered where he felt the effects of loss of control the deepest.
In another case, our clients were nearing retirement. The notion of not having a routine made them anxious. The husband and wife shared the hobbies that they wanted to pursue and described their vision for what would be their “best lives”. What a joy it was to uncover aspects of what they wanted, many of which were a surprise even to one another.
In both instances, our discussions went beyond financial matters. Still, money plays a role. In the latter case, we got to show them how their hard work has led them to be able to afford the freedom to fulfill their dreams. In the former case, we were able to set a path to secure more resources in order to delegate some work responsibilities. Money can buy oneself time.
Taking Action on Your Financial Life Plan
Wealthstream Advisors’ mission is “To Help People Live Their Best Lives.” A financial life plan can touch on any number of elements including relationships with family and friends, raising children, advancing one’s career, having certain experiences i.e. travel, and achieving some level of freedom and flexibility. The list is endless!
It is so much easier to embark on a plan when we have goals that motivate us. I used to spend too much time asking my clients to complete a particular task e.g. provide expense data. I realize that it was the old story about pushing on a string rather than pulling.
Everyone is unique, and the approach to goal-setting needs to be different in each case. We have experience, abundant curiosity and an established process to help you.
If you are interested in learning more about how we can help take a holistic approach to managing your financial life, please reach out to our team.