In my early 20’s I had my first experience with snowboarding. Being from the South, I had zero experience with sports involving snow and mountains. However, snowboarding looked like a ton of fun, and I believed I needed to expand my horizons.
After about a day on the slopes, I was handling myself pretty well. I wasn’t ready for the X-games, but I could ride down the mountain with relative ease. I quickly found my favorite runs and started having fun, spending less and less mental energy on staying upright.
Then it happened.
I caught an edge coming down the mountain and took a tumble. Being 6’4 comes with many advantages in life, but when it comes to falling down mountains, tall folks have zero favor or grace. It felt like I spent about 10 seconds falling.
When I finally came to a stop, I laid there contemplating my life choices. I began doing a quick assessment in my head to see if I was injured. Somehow, I managed to elbow myself in the body so hard that it caused my goggles to fog. I still don’t know how that was actually possible.
The good news was that I didn’t injure myself. I simply had to endure the mild embarrassment of wiping out directly under the ski lift. It was quite comedic in hindsight.
So, what lesson did this teach me?
This wipeout happened, not because of inexperience, but because I lost focus. I had been improving with every run down the mountain, and I started to let my guard down. We can be prone to this same mistake with our finances.
As we approach the midpoint of 2021, it’s a great time to take a few moments and refocus our financial plans so that we can finish the year stronger than we started.
Have You Considered What You Really Want?
As a financial advisor, I get the pleasure of having meetings about money all the time. I read research and analysis daily, and I have many friends within the industry who create financial content that is top notch.
Access to all of this information is wonderful, and I believe it helps me sharpen my skills as a financial planner. Yet, the cornerstone of financial planning is not the advisor, it’s the client. One of the most important parts of my job is helping clients get clear about what they really want.
We are all different. We have unique views when it comes to money, so why would we settle for generic financial advice? Spend some time thinking about what is truly important to you. What do you really want your money to do for you and your family?
How Do Financial Habits Reflect Your Values?
Once you begin to get clear about your values, consider how you are using your money. It can be easy to think about big actions that you may be taking–contributing to a 401(k), saving in a ROTH IRA, or budgeting your cash flow.
What are you doing with the small daily actions? Sometimes these small actions can compound over time and have a greater impact that we realize. Do you have subscriptions that you don’t use? Do you carry balances on high interest credit cards? Do you have adequate insurance protection (auto, home, life)?
I’m a huge fan of creating systems and policy-based financial planning. We want to make sure that we create processes that are aligned with our personal values.
Who Depends on You Financially?
As you begin to evaluate your financial habits (and systems), consider who may be depending on you financially. What are their needs? What plans are in place to protect them?
In the wake of Covid-19, we should be completely sober about how quickly life can shift for any of us in the health or financial realm. While we may not be able to predict the future, we can put plans in place to protect ourselves in our loved ones. Here’s a quick task list for you to consider:
● Make sure you have created and updated wills and power of attorney documents
● Review your life insurance needs and assess your current coverage
● Review and update (if necessary) beneficiary forms
● Consider any special planning cases like minor children or aging parents
● Think about your need for income protection (disability coverage)
What Financial Milestones are coming up in the next 12 months?
So many financial planning conversations discuss long-term financial goals. It’s great to keep a long-term perspective, especially when we consider big financial goals like creating retirement income or paying down a mortgage. Sometimes, however, our financial milestones may be on the horizon.
If you have a large financial event coming up in the next 12 months, what steps should you be taking to prepare? It’s not my place to tell you what a “milestone” should be. Personal finance is quite personal, so my only encouragement is for you to think about the year ahead and plan accordingly.
How Does Your Investment Strategy Serve You for the Long-term?
The first part of 2021 has been full of entertaining stories within the stock market. Meme stocks are now a thing, and investment advisors all over the country are waking to the fact that cryptocurrencies are not going away. In addition, we now have NFTs and DeFi entering the conversation.
It can be very easy to allow new and exotic asset classes to seduce us. With real interest rates being essentially zero, we are once again looking at balancing our investment strategies with an acceptable level of volatility. Now is a great time to speak with your investment team and review your long-term allocations.
What asset classes are included in your portfolio? Do you have a proper amount of diversification for the road ahead? What goals are you attempting to fund with your portfolio?
Reflect and Refresh
As America begins to re-open, our country is poised to experience a summer full of fun, travel, and adventure. In my opinion, creating experiences and memories is one of the highest functions of money. Before you break for the summer, take a few moments to review your finances.
Money should not be a daily obsession. Good stewardship, however, requires us to reflect and refresh from time to time. Take advantage of the next few weeks to consider any weak spots you may have in your finances and make those adjustments.