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  • Jonathan Kolmetz

Expectations vs reality when working with your financial advisor

It happens every year. In January, we make our resolutions. They may be small ones but most often they are sweeping. We are going to lose 20 pounds, completely declutter our house or learn Spanish in 30 days so we can chat with the locals on Spring Break.

Reality shows capitalize on this. Total Home Makeover. The Biggest Loser. 90 Day Finance. We want whatever we consider the “best me” to happen immediately.

So, we buy the gym membership or the Peloton, or the life coach, or the 200 plastic boxes at the Container Store and hope for the best. Then we get busy, or side-tracked – or more realistic – and then we end up depressed and guilty.

We were sure that our lives were going to change, and we were finally going to do that ‘thing,’ whatever it was. When we don’t, we lick our wounds and cancel our memberships, vowing to try again when things slow down.

One thing that many people lump in with their life coach, nutritionist, or personal trainer is their financial advisor. The cost and the time spent with all these professions is similar, however, the stakes are much different.

That can be daunting too as big stakes tend to scare us about failing big. Just as a personal trainer would counsel that baby steps get you to the fitness finish line, we’d tell you that incremental, measurable progress is the way to finally get your financial affairs in order.

The stakes are bigger

The checklist is one that you have probably had in the back of your mind for years. Life insurance. Beneficiaries. A will. Power of attorney.

The questions are the ones that might keep you up at night – and keep you stuck in a rut.

What would happen to you if you became disabled? Do you have the right amount of life insurance to support your family? What would happen to your kids if you weren’t here anymore?

Really sad things to contemplate, so we often don’t.

The difference with a good financial planner is that they will walk you through the process at your pace. While the ultimate goal is to increase your net worth, your progress is also measured in less precise ways. A decrease in anxiety and stress, better sleep, improved communication with your partners, and a better idea of what your long-term goals are personally and professionally can be impactful.

At Oaks Wealth Management, we go way beyond stocks and bonds and budgets and financial planning to talk about what is keeping you up at night. While a new mattress might be a worthy purchase, when a financial planner can reduce your concern[MFS1] around your money and improve your communication with your partner around finances, then you will sleep better than you ever have. That’s a guarantee.

Flipping the script

We have been in the financial planning industry for 20 years and have learned one essential truth – data has almost never changed anyone’s life. Even for life and death health issues, pamphlets, charts and information don’t change habits or behaviors.

That’s why we flipped the script. We go to the heart of the matter and work to understand a person’s relationship with money and the motivations behind their habits and behaviors.

A worthwhile financial planner doesn’t shame, guilt or inundate you with facts and figures. That doesn’t work. We find the strategies that are working for you and pinpoint the ones that don’t.

We explore where might you be willing to make some changes in how you think about money that would lead you to a desired goal. If we just start with a goal and work backwards and say you need to earn an additional $1K a month, and cut your X, Y and Z spending, then your financial aspirations will end up in the corner with your abandoned Peloton.

Without having the original conversation of knowing what money means to you, what spending means to you, and the reasons why and how you spend your money, it is going to be very difficult to make permanent, lasting changes.

Baby steps, with the first step being to find someone who will work with you and for you to plan for your financial future. That is a worthy resolution.

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