Major life events like buying a home, getting married, having a child, starting a business, and investing for the future make the benefits of financial planning and talking about money with an expert crystal-clear.
You can actually touch the life or disability insurance policy that you put in place to protect your family against the unexpected. You can physically sit in your new house because 5 years ago, you made a plan and started saving for a down payment.
These are tangible things that are easy to understand and see the value of. But successful financial planning goes so far beyond watching your investment account grows or your debt disappear. A lot of other unexpected benefits of financial planning start rolling your way when you can start a conversation around your money.
When You Start Talking About Money
Financial success is more than a growing bank account (although that’s certainly part of the equation). There are intangible benefits that you can get out of setting a plan, asking someone to hold you accountable, and working with a professional to guide you along the way.
Can you really remember that time a few years back when you were advised against taking your money out of the stock market? The S&P dropped significantly, people panicked, and the media wrote headline after headline about how it was time to sell because rock bottom was coming.
But then, the stock market bounced right back after a few months — and because someone advised you to stay the course and stick to your financial plan, you didn’t sell at the bottom and buy when stocks rose again, meaning your investments were in better shape because you didn’t take action.
How about the time when you didn’t buy that home after a discussion which had you realize it would make your cash flow too tight to afford to have a child in the next 2 years? You can use all the mortgage calculators in the world and none of them will tell you how much house you can afford in relation to your plans and income a year from now, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now.
What’s it like when the stress of making financial decisions alone, without guidance or the confidence you get from having an expert explain the options so you can pick the one that’s best for you? Or better yet, how do you measure the peace of mind you felt after voicing your fears to a trusted advisor during a stressful career change?
These intangible areas are so important to long-term financial success and to your wellbeing. Sometimes it’s tough to connect these benefits to your life because they don’t physically exist like a bigger bank account or a new insurance policy.
The Value of Being Proactive
Financial planning is about getting organized and creating a plan. It’s about building good money habits and aligning your spending (and saving) with your values.
Most importantly, it’s about being proactive instead of just reactive. It’s about moving forward with confidence, instead of hanging out on the sidelines feeling uncertain and indecisive about what to do.
When you start talking about money, you start taking responsibility for your financial future. And that’s critical — because if you don’t have the conversation and take responsibility for what you want in your life, who will do it for you?
We all have busy lives and tend to push off anything that isn’t urgent or enjoyable. Money conversations aren’t always fun, so setting aside time to think through what to do with your money typically gets pushed to the back of the line until “someday,” when you have “more time.”
But the day you commit to improving your finances is the day when you start to see actions to take to improve your situation. And these may be actions you may not have even noticed before as possibilities for you!
Take Action Today
Think about the last time you were resisting doing something. Maybe it was cleaning your kitchen or mowing the lawn.
You kept pushing it off until one day when you found the motivation to take it on. Now, think of how you felt when you were done. No, really… how did it make you feel? It may have been satisfaction, relief, or an overall sense of accomplishment.
Whatever it was, I bet it felt damn good!
Scheduling time to sit down and think through the opportunities and challenges that exist in your financial life is a big step. Speaking to a spouse, family member, mentor or financial advisor can help you talk through both the obvious and hidden obstacles you face that may be preventing you from taking an action that could greatly reduce your financial stress or improve your life.
If you don’t have an hour a month built into your schedule where you can press the pause button and focus specifically on your finances, I highly recommend adding that today.
I also suggest that you find an accountability partner who can keep you focused on your goals. Share your dreams with them and let them help you create a life you love.