In my last post I shared a conversation I had with a friend who after just turning 45 realized that it was “now or never” for his family to concentrate on their financial goals and aspirations. The question is, now that he has a sense of urgency, where should he start?
This post and those that follow will provide step by step guidance for people like my friend who are tired of the status quo and ready to take charge of their finances. As with many of the important things in life, they will require some effort and determination to get through, especially if you try to do it on your own, but the rewards could very well change the way you live your life.
Step 1 – Decide you want to be organized
Making the decision to become organized may seem like an obvious step not worth mentioning, but it could actually be the most important part of the process!
I often meet people who vent their frustration at not having gotten their financial lives together. This is in spite of the fact that they know the longer they wait, the worse it will become. In other words they know this is something they "should" do.
If you try to make a major change in your life, especially if you try it on your own, it needs to be a "must"! If you treat it as something you "should" do, odds are it will end like most people’s diets do...temporary success followed by a return to your old habits.
One of my clients is an old friend and has been a client for years; we trust each other like brothers. However, regardless of how hard I tried to convince him and his wife to allow my team to create a financial plan for them, they always had great reasons why they couldn’t.
They agreed a plan was a great idea and would be very helpful and help them retire early and reach their goals, but they just didn’t have the time to drive 30 minutes into Toronto to meet with our team. Now of course they had time for extended cottage holidays, vacations, staycations and dinners downtown that were not far from my office...but unfortunately they just didn’t have time to do a plan.
Fast forward a few years (maybe more than a few), and they are now parents. He’s a little greyer and rounder and now funding post-secondary education and retirement aren’t the theoretical concepts they once were. At our last semi-annual meeting at their home, I once again brought up the idea of taking them through the planning process. This time they actually seemed interested. Actually they were more than interested, they started asking questions about the ins and outs of the process and how it could help them reach a number of the goals that are important to them.
To be honest, at first I thought they were playing with me; it wouldn’t be the first time they teased me about something, but it quickly became apparent this was something they knew they needed. They were now willing to put the time aside to do whatever was needed to get the ball rolling.
Why did this happen? Well, they finally have a sense of urgency to find out how everything will turn out, and not knowing has become more painful than facing the music. They have a better idea of what they want their lives to be like, and as parents, they know their decisions, or lack thereof, could be detrimental to more than just themselves.
Although it’s a shame it has taken so long for them to make this decision, I know it will make a huge difference in how the rest of their lives turn out. I’m pleased that I’ve played a role in helping them go from “should” to “must”, because I can tell you one thing, when people make a decision that something must happen…it makes all the difference in the world!
Regardless of your income or net worth, if you aren’t clear on whether your financial future is in sync with your vision for it, I highly recommend that you make it a “must” too.
In my next post, we’ll talk about the next steps my clients will need to take from here and how my team and I will walk them through the process to make it as easy and effective as possible.