If you’re like most people you may want some help with your money, but talking about money and putting it “in order” may feel scary, confusing, or overwhelming. You wonder if a financial planner will make things better or worse for you.
I get it. I remember feeling what you’re feeling. Though I’m a financial advisor now and really know how much I help people, years ago I remember wanting to slam the door on the first financial planner I met with.
Years ago, when I was at the very beginning of my teaching career, I was full of enthusiasm having just completed my doctorate at the University of Toronto and landed a position as a Professor of English Literature at Northeastern University. I couldn’t wait to share my love of literature and language with my students. However, I was so disappointed to find them resistant because they had to take the course and it seemed difficult and irrelevant to them. But a more basic problem was that they were having trouble understanding the concepts and the analytical tools. But I buckled down and gradually found a way to connect the course material to their everyday lives. What a turn around that made: their analytical skills improved and they actually began to enjoy the class.
One day as I was grading their papers, there was a knock on my office door. Who could it be? I glanced at my calendar and saw that I had an appointment with a financial planner. UGH. I’d forgotten about this meeting. Why did I agree to see him? I opened the door and a tall, nice looking and well-dressed man came in and started talking as he set up an easel and white paper.
He drew diagrams about money, inflation, yield curves, and taxes, and explained what I had to do to retire. Retire? I’m in my thirties. Retirement is years away. He asked me about how much I could put away a month; what could I stop spending so I could save more; what my expenses were, how much life insurance I had.
Was he for real? His view of money was complex, and full of terms that were unfamiliar to me. I was becoming frustrated and puzzled.
For me, managing money was simple: I paid all my bills and I had a little left over in my checking account. Save more?
Take a vacation?—I couldn’t afford that. I spent carefully. I loved coffee but I brought a thermos of coffee to work instead of indulging in one of the treats at the coffee shop. I explained to him, that yes, I had a job. It didn’t pay much in dollars, but was huge in satisfaction. I was happy. I was living the Good Life as I defined it.
His answer was, “You can’t bank happiness and some day you will need a lot of money to retire.” As I walked him to the door, saying that I was not going to work with him, his parting shot was—“If a two week vacation costs $1,000, how much would a 30 year vacation called retirement cost? Where will the money come from?”
I closed the door, sat down at my desk and got back to grading papers. In the weeks that followed, I started thinking about what he had said. Part of me got his point. Yes, he was right about inflation and taxes. I did need to stretch my money; do better with it. So why didn’t I just go ahead and hire him? Then I realized
that he had made no effort to forge a personal connection with me: never asked me who I was; what mattered to me; what my dreams and goals were; I am more than my expenses, checkbook and savings. What I had told him about my devotion to teaching, he hadn’t even acknowledged.
Fast forward about ten years: I was Acting Dean and Professor at Hellenic College in Massachusetts. I loved my work, but I was increasingly aware that the cost of everything was going up, and my income wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe I could learn something about investing. I started reading, and to my surprise I found it fascinating. My breakthrough was realizing that “money talk” was a language. Once I got the vocabulary and concepts, I was more and more intrigued.
I eventually decided to change careers, and become a financial planner in 1986. As I was completing my last year of teaching, I studied to take the exams for my first licenses, so that I could join Bay Financial Associates. After more years of courses and exams, I completed the requirements for the designations Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Life Underwriter.
By 2000, I created Wealthy Choices®, a Registered Investment Advisor; so that I could serve clients in all fifty states, lecture across the country, and also write books, articles, television and radio shows. The teacher in me still wanted to explain language and concepts, but now it was about investing. “Money talk” does not have to be confusing and mind numbing, or distant and irrelevant and I was determined to be the kind of financial planner who deeply cared and connected to her clients.
People worry about money. They fight over it. They get stressed when they make mistakes with it. I’ve worked with hundreds of people over the years and in every case, I could do something better for the person– whether to design a way to increase their income for retirement; or better align their investments with their goals; or find ways of tightening up their cash flow; or help someone feel more confident about his or her decisions; or think through difficult issues like how to set up your estate to treat children fairly, but not equally.
Perhaps, you are like my clients. You want to meet your obligations, and also realize your dreams and goals. You want an honest, clear, trustworthy person to talk to. You want that person to know who you are and what matters to you. When you ask, “If you were in my situation, what would you do?” you want to trust that the answer is expressing what is best for you. And that is exactly the clear, straightforward, honest advice I provide.
It would be a privilege to do this work for you.
The Wealthy Choices® plan starts with YOU. Who are you, and what do you need and want? What do you value? What will keep you smiling and confident? How can you reach your goals? How prepared will you be for the inevitable challenges life serves up? Let’s start talking.
If my story and approach to financial planning resonate with you, contact me. Come to my office for a free initial consultation, with no obligation. I’m eager to meet you, and help. Click here so we can start a conversation which can improve your financial life.