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Pause And Reflect: three things I have learned as a financial advisor

Pause And Reflect: three things I have learned as a financial advisor

May 21, 2017

There are times in life where you naturally pause to celebrate and reflect. Today is that day for me. Four years ago, I launched my career as a Financial Advisor in Des Moines with Compass Financial Services. My goal was simple. I wanted to help others with their financial lives. Whether that be helping them develop a strategy to reduce and payoff debt, save money for a big expense or their dream vacation, plan and prepare for retirement, understand their workplace retirement plan, or get started investing, I wanted to work alongside folks as they pursue their financial goals. It has been an exciting and educational journey thus far.

As I look back, there are three main things that I have learned along the way:

1. Time is a precious resource.  

Time is key, not money. When people really get to thinking about retirement, they generally question, "how much money do I need to retire?" Spoiler alert: the answer is not a simple number or dollar amount. Just as no two of us are alike, no two retirement plans are alike. Each person or family has a different and unique financial story, and that is why we do not offer "one size fits all" financial advice at Compass Financial. There is a lot that goes into understanding how much money you need to retire, and that can be overwhelming to navigate on your own.  Exploring and understanding the question, "How much money do I need to retire?" is something we help clients answer every day through our hourly financial planning.

Often, time is the rate-limiting step for people to take the leap and meet with a financial advisor. There will never be the "perfect" time to meet with a financial advisor. It is common for people to put financial and retirement planning work off until their retirement is right around the corner. When I meet with these prospective clients who are approaching retirement, universally they express regret that they did not get organized and motivated about finances until late in their professional lives. “I wish I would have found you 20 years ago” is the common refrain from these folks. Money is a commodity, but time is the precious resource. That being said, I truly believe that it is never too late to get started working with a financial planner or financial advisor. The confidence and peace that can come from understanding your financial plan is unmatched.

2. Inertia is the enemy. 

If it has been awhile since you brushed up on your physics vocabulary, inertia is defined as the tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged. In other words, inertia is the property of existing as is unless acted on by an external force. Inertia keeps you in place, which is a good thing when you are sitting in a chair or driving a car down the road. It is not necessarily a good thing if your goal is to grow, develop, or change. Inertia keeps you comfy, but it can also keep you stuck.

Henry Ford said it best when he said, “If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.” Such a simple yet powerful truth. If you want something different, and dare I say better, out of your life, you have to do something different. So I challenge you, whatever path you are on, look up to the horizon and see where it leads. If you do not like where you are headed, you must pull up the stakes and change direction. It is never too late. Inertia is the enemy, but momentum is your friend.

3. Know where your money is going.

Another incredibly simple but powerful truth, however, very few people really do it. Unconscious spending or spending money without really thinking about it is all too common these days. Especially in a world of credit cards, where we spend now and pay later. Knowing where your money is going requires getting organized and a whole lot of practice. It involves tracking your expenses and spending, and unfortunately, it is not a ‘one and done’ sort of thing. New expenses come up all the time, so updating as you go is key. It really is a lifelong journey that takes you to amazing places. When you really understand where your money is going, the path becomes much clearer. "With knowledge comes understanding."

This is just the tip of the iceberg of all that I have learned in my time as a financial advisor here at Compass Financial, but these three themes come up time and time again. If you are like many of the folks I have met through the years and would like to get started on your financial planning journey, we would love to meet you. Whether you are nearing retirement and asking the question, "do I have enough money to retire?", needing the encouragement to make a change in your financial life, or are not sure how to get started tracking your expenses, our Des Moines based financial advisors are here for you. Contact us today. 

And to our clients, I want to thank you! We are grateful you choose Compass Financial. I would also like to extend an open invitation for lunch if there is someone in your life that we should meet, or that may need the help we provide. Thank you for your trust.

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