As I write this the nights are cooler and the leaves are changing color. I just returned from a professional work conference held in BC. It was an intense learning experience with some fun thrown in.
I debated on the format of this newsletter and since it has been a few years since you all have received a letter from me it would be a less formal way to bring you up to speed on the latest happenings. That has always been my goal, for everyone to learn something new each newsletter or meeting.
One question from the conference stuck with me: We were asked: How much do your clients know about what you do and who you are? I have to confess that I probably err too much on the side of privacy and probably could be more open about my work and myself.
In the last week of April I was recovering from dental surgery. The first step of a very expensive procedure was to remove a tooth that could no longer be salvaged.
Unfortunately, our current dental coverage will not cover more than a small percentage of the cost, which if I proceed will leave me out of pocket many thousands of dollars for a dental implant.
What do replacing teeth have to do with personal financial management? The crucial question is: Do we as consumers evaluate the worth of what we buy? If we even do, is it objectively and rationally or emotionally and irrationally? Let me continue on with my train of thought with the tooth story.
My cost to get a dental implant is equal to or more than a European vacation for 2. Or that same cost would enable me to get my next car sooner. In my case that is a big deal because my car has a shortened life span.
To me either of these options is far more attractive than a fake molar. So I dither and hesitate. Sure, if I was a millionaire, price would be of no object. But all of us must make trade offs. A question posed in one of my professional magazines went something like this: If I buy this______ today, what will I NOT be able to buy next week or next year or 5 years from now? Or do we only suffer regret when we get to that point in time later? Or blame our lousy salaries?
Could you give up 400 caramel machiattos for a trip to Vancouver, or a new couch? Does saving for retirement seem far less appealing than eating out at Charcut every Saturday night?
With that in mind I will conclude my newsletter with a video and two links. My video is based on Preet Banerjee’s TED talk, which if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing please watch the first 5 minutes. Or get the gist from my video which is just over 2 minutes.
Sometimes a third party article can get the point across much better than I can. I want you to check these links so that you can experience some cognitive dissonance. Kind of like a tiny earthquake to freshen up your long held perspectives on money and how you save and spend it. I am committed to your financial success and it helps to explore avenues yet unseen.
In the 1870s one of the first pension plans in Canada was sponsored by the Grand Trunk Railroad. Retirees could benefit from the plan at age 70 for a lifetime pension. Trouble was a Canadian’s average life expectancy was 55 years of age. This is what is called a pretend gift or empty promise.
Fast forward a century and a few decades and we see a somewhat similar problem. Employees are retiring earlier than 65 by choice or not, and there are many more upcoming retirees than at any time in history. Retirees are also living longer. A new term has entered the lexicon of financial terminology. That term is the unfunded liability.
If something cannot be detected by any of the 5 human senses does that mean it lacks value?
Society today has access to a vast amount of information on any given subject. This availability has its pros and cons. The good point is that consumers could make more informed decisions and choices. They could get better value for their money by getting manufacturers to adapt the products they want or to provide better/more services.
However, information published in the mainstream media may not have as its goal the edification of their readers. In a cutthroat publishing world the be all end all is the # of eyes on a given article. It is quite possible that accuracy is sacrificed for the black bottom line. Still these snippets can be the starting point for useful discussion on certain topics.
Have you ever had that feeling of being overwhelmed when looking at a buffet of 100 items with all the choices available to eat and enjoy? Ever walked out of a buffet restaurant with a slight case of upset stomach?
Not long ago a bank teller and I got into a conversation about hair. She asked me: What can I do to have nice hair? Mine is falling out and it’s thin. I told her make sure to eat enough protein and vitamins, giving her examples of some foods she could eat. Then she asked me isn’t there some treatment I could do instead? Her question led me down the shampoo aisle at the nearest large store to count how many hair products were available. There were products for frizzy hair, colored hair, long hair, blond hair, products to increase volume, and products for shine. I lost count at 351. Then I reflected on human nature because I have encountered her viewpoint in the past. A close relative has told me that in his old age he’s OK with getting a medical condition as long as medical care can fix it. Healthy lifestyle? Why bother?
The question to ask here is: Has prevention gone out of style?
Hello 2012! Shortly before Christmas I had a conversation with a client who was in a dilemma. You know what a dilemma is. It’s when you have two choices and both of them are rotten. Yet the conversation, which lasted about half an hour ended with her deciding on a positive action plan and a more hopeful feeling about her family’s financial future. How did this come about? It was because she was able to talk through her situation with someone that would listen, and ask a thoughtful question here and there. The listening and questioning empowered her to make a decision. I feel privileged to play the role of accountability partner/listener so that clients can organize their thoughts and thereby summon their courage to make the decisions that will be fruitful for their entire future not just financial.
In the spirit of the season just passed, let’s begin this newsletter by making a list and checking it twice. This list will reveal the hitherto untold interdependence of all aspects of your financial situation. It is also a how to list for you to put theory into practice, if you haven’t already.
In my financial planning practice I find that if a client asks a question or makes a comment it is probable that someone else had that same thought but did not take the opportunity to ask me. The ensuing discussion or explanation sometimes should be shared with a wider audience
So this newsletter is a result of one of these rabbit trails that present themselves from time to time. The second part of my newsletter will discuss another financial topic that recently came to light in my personal life.