Hey, where do you think you’re going (with money)?

A client and I arranged to meet the other day at a cafe on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. As soon as she suggested it, I pictured the location in my mind. I was 100% sure that I knew where it was.

I used GPS because I wasn’t sure, based on the cross street, if I should take a left or a right on to Telegraph. I glanced at the GPS briefly enough to know to take a left. Yet, when I took a left on to the “Telegraph” I had pictured in my mind the entire time since we planned it, there were no cafes there which matched her description. Huh? What happened? I knew where I was going. I followed the directions carefully enough.

My 4th glance at the GPS, plus actually putting my eyeballs on a street sign, showed me that OHHHHH this street I had in mind was Piedmont, not Telegraph! Oops. Once I got that crucial bit of data, I was able to backtrack and find our meeting spot.

This can happen around money, too, you know. One might have a conscious intention to make a certain amount of money, or take a certain amount of free time away from working, or choose investments that one is 100% sure will perform in a certain way.

Those conscious intentions are so great and helpful. Unless, like me, they are based on top of mistaken assumptions that seem true. Trickily enough, I had no doubt that Piedmont was Telegraph. No big deal. But same goes for, I might have no doubt that I can withdraw from an IRA whenever I need to without much penalty. (You’re so smart, you probably know that would be outrageous, but I’m just demonstrating the point.)

Did you make as much money as you wanted to last year? If not, to what do you attribute the discrepancy?

Did you fulfill your personal wishes last year around money and time management? If not, did you genuinely mean to, and then didn’t? Isn’t that curious?

Some tools that help me around financial clarity:

~Drop any assumption that any question is off-limits to a financial professional. If you wonder something, go ahead and give yourself the peace of mind of just asking. No matter how simple or complex, you deserve to know what to expect from investments, taxes, bank accounts, all of it.

~Refreshing your net worth amount, at the very least, annually. If an investment went down in value, do you understand why? Are you comfortable with the level of risk you chose before? Do you have an updated scenario for when or if you might need to spend the money that is currently invested? None of these mean that you have to take any action; you’re just surveying your financial queendom or kingdom and are hopefully experiencing some peace from knowing the truth.

~When I’m overworking and feel like I “can’t” take a break, it helps me to talk it out with a friend. My friends tend to be kinder than my head naturally is to me when I’m under pressure. What is the worst that could happen if I accomplish less today than I planned to? This, ironically, helps my work productivity become more sustainable over time, if I can “do” less when I’m getting crispy.

~Above all, listening to the little Jiminy Cricket from my gut never steers me wrong. I like that percentage….100% of the time it has been right.

Some of my money took me down a snowy hill last year! (Photo credit to Lozzie Gelder-Robertson)

Thanks for reading.

I wish the best for you, in life, and in financial clarity.

I teach people how to live in healthy harmony with money. Ideally, our work will get you in to shape to be ready to work with a certified financial planner. I do spending plan/budgeting education, debt reduction plan suggestions, software training (especially YNAB which I love very much), net worth organizing, and/or system co-design with you (i.e., how do you track your spending and bill paying).

Financial planners make specific investment suggestions based on your self-identified level of risk tolerance, and get in to a whole-financial-picture assessment that can include insurance suggestions of all types and many other financial services.

If you’ve read my newsletter before, you probably have heard me sing the praises of my financial planner, Sean Burgess of http://www.burgessfinancial.com. I’m excited to announce that in addition to “regular” financial planning, which his site describes very well, Sean will now actively manage your investments! So many people seem averse to taking care of those details, so it can be a wonderful luxury to turn it over to a competent, trustworthy professional like Sean. That service is described more in detail here: http://www.burgessfinancial.com/investment-management.html

So how do you know where to start?

~If it feels like your finances are kind of messy, or an unknown black box, talk to me first.

~If you know what’s coming in and out of your accounts, and want to talk about savings strategies and what to *do* with the money that is left over after your required monthly expenses happen, then you are most likely ready for a financial planner!
Good luck, and happy chatting with your own inner Jiminy Cricket. : )