You Could Build Your Own Financial Plan, But You Probably Won't

If you’re like most people I know, you have a lot going on.

Financial Planning

Perhaps you and your spouse are working parents of young kids just trying to keep up with the day to day. Maybe your kids are grown, but now you bounce between grandkids and caring for an aging parent. You could be a physician or an attorney who works 60 hours a week.  Or maybe you’re recently retired, taking things slowly and can’t figure out how you had time to work now that you’re enjoying some leisure time.  

The fact is, most folks can’t or won’t find the time to dig in and really make sure they have their financial ducks in a row. Heck, I’m a financial planner and there are things in my own financial affairs that I’ve put off for years. The reality is we live in a complicated world that offers many diversions and never ending to do lists. I get it – you might know in the back of your mind that there are financial items you should attend to, but when you do get some free time, it’s not the most exciting stuff to address, so you put it off.

Yet despite our ‘busyness’ we all have financial concerns, questions and blind spots that don’t yield for the more urgent happenings in our lives. Each passing month you don’t save enough you miss out on the power of compound interest. Each month you pay too much for health, life, home or auto insurance or other wasteful subscriptions, you let hard earned dollars go to waste. Maybe you’re paying more in taxes than you need to by missing one of the many tax incentives available to you. Or perhaps you have financial blind spots that could be devastating for your family if the worst happened and you weren’t prepared by having the right insurance or legal plans in place.

Most of these issues aren’t urgent. We don’t get text alerts, warning sirens or reminders from our parents that they need to be addressed.  

This is where a good financial planner comes in. Yes, as planners we have training in everything from investments to taxes, but at the end of the day, I’d argue that one of our most important jobs is to hold our clients accountable.

When life gets in the way, having someone to keep you from either making bad decisions or letting things slip through the cracks can be absolutely invaluable. As planners for our clients, we treat our relationships with them just like their dentists do. Each time we meet, we set a date for our next review meeting. We know from experience that if we don’t force our clients to set aside that time on their calendars now, it’s too easy to let 8, 12 or 24 months slip by without really digging into their financial lives. When we meet with our clients, we bring to focus those financial issues that need to be addressed, keeping them on task and on track to reach their biggest financial goals.

If you’re reading this, it is likely you are capable of doing the research to make sound financial decisions. You could do the math to figure out how much you need to save, intelligently allocate your 401k, map out a withdrawal strategy if you’re in retirement, or read up on the latest tax law.  You could double check the beneficiaries on your group life insurance, build spreadsheets to figure out which health insurance would be best for your family and contact your home/auto insurance providers to see if the policies you bought 5 years ago are still a good fit.

But the reality is, you probably won’t, unless you have someone holding you accountable to make sure that you do.