By Brandt McDonald
In America, it seems to me that somehow we are all born with a unique genetic code that is a hard wired American drive to own things. Owning things or stuff, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing; however, when this “stuff” begins to impede your ability to manage your life, chaos is sure to show up on the scene. We accumulate all kinds of assets and take great care to protect them. But, what about your greatest asset? Your future and your legacy. You are at the controls of a one-of-a kind vessel that was made specifically for you. From a financial perspective, the question to answer in this article is, what are you doing to own your financial future? Are you at the controls? Or, have you blindly ceded that responsibility over to other people or things? To be clear, let’s examine three things that can help you saddle up in the pilot’s seat!
1. Education – In my 26 year career as a financial advisor, I have never seen a greater opportunity of education because of the information that is available on the internet. There are a multitude of websites, hosted by both private and public organizations, for-profit and non-profit, that can help you become familiar with the terminology surrounding financial products and processes. A simple Google search of “understanding financial products/markets/money management will lead you to a broad array of various links to get you started. I also want to invite you to tune in to 93.1 FM every afternoon at 5:00, where you can hear me on Greg Budell’s “Happy Hour” show. During my 15 minute segment, I attempt to break down the important financial news of the day. One of my greatest motivation’s in participating on the show is to provide the listener with facts and information that will hopefully help them navigate their way through the financial impact of the ever-changing geo-political and global economic landscape. I am so passionate about individual education that it is one of the primary things I do when a new client joins our firm. My strongly held belief is that you are certainly intelligent enough, that once armed with ALL the facts, you can become a more integral part of the decision making process. No longer are you being talked TO!! Once educated, you can pull the chair up next to your financial advisor and be a more active participant in executing a well-thought out financial/retirement plan.
2. Seek professional guidance – notice I underlined the word guidance. With you as the pilot, you still need a navigator, ground control, and an instrument panel. For our purposes you need a good attorney, CPA, and wealth management team. All three of these professionals should work together to provide you with the proper information to manage your financial affairs. By using a team approach of professionals you should be able to attain accountability because all three advisors are held to a fiduciary standard to always have your best interests in mind. Developing trust with an advisor takes time, but it is important to provide him or her with ALL the salient information about your personal life. According to a recent CNBC article, Facebook knows more about you than anyone. “With 70 likes, it could know more about someone than their friends, and with 150 it would be more knowledgeable than a family member. With 300 likes it could determine your personality better than a spouse.” Aside from Facebook, no one knows you better than yourself. The goal at our firm is to know our client’s as much as possible. I’ve always said that you never really know a person until you know exactly what it is that person wants out of life. To that end, our firm knows that we have no chance of serving you until we have a complete understanding of what you want your future to look like.
3. Living within your plan – Once the plan has been executed, it’s time to live your life! Too often, I have clients that do everything the right way and never enjoy the fruits of their labor. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Perhaps anxiety and fear are the culprit. Or, maybe it’s just a simple desire to leave everything to the next generation. Whatever the reason, I challenge you to live life to its fullest. I think Eleanor Roosevelt had it right when she said “Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.” Interestingly, she used the word “his”. Perhaps she was referring to her disabled husband at the time? No matter where you find yourself, always remember that life was meant to be lived. One of the greatest tragedies in life is to have never really truly loved and lived. Once it hits you, the feeling of regret is a pain you live with until you’re gone.
Regardless of where you are in your financial life, consider today as an opportune time to reassert yourself as the pilot and take firm control of your future. It’s never too late to start. If you aren’t satisfied with what happened in the past, try something new today. Don’t stay stuck in neutral, drifting without a plan. Remember, that we all have only so many days left on this earth. As we age, each new day becomes more valuable. Whatever you do, don’t exchange a day of your life for something meaningless. Take ownership of your financial future by moving forward. Go slowly if you must, but don’t stand still. Get educated, build your team of advisors, and execute a well thought out plan.
Our team at McDonald, Barranco, and Hagen is passionate about offering you financial guidance and considers it on honor to come alongside you as your personal financial navigator. The best things happen when you least expect it. Together, we can boldly live this thing we call life. Until next time, never run with the herd, always be thankful, and look to the future with anticipation of what’s yet to come.
Brandt McDonald, Managing Partner
McDonald, Barranco & Hagen Wealth Management
LPL Branch Manager
Direct comments and questions to
firstname.lastname@example.org or 334.387.0094
Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The opinions expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial.
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