While there, I visited with old friends, met new ones, served on a panel and, yes, talked about checklists and workflows. But most of all, I came back with some insights and ideas for those I serve. I'd like to share some of the great stuff I learned.
I'm sure I'm a little behind on this, but I learned how to Uber. If you haven’t tried it yet, put this on the to-do list for your next vacation. Use Uber or Lyft and you will likely get someone who knows the area who can drive you around and share info on the local things to do (or not to do!). It’s easy, inexpensive and fun.
Be Who You Are...
Some of the planners at our conference are looking to build a good sized business, bring in employees and gather a following. Some are not. I had several people say they were glad to hear that my firm is small and plans to stay that way.
I like being a small shop - it was never my goal to be big, but just to help others with their finances in a variety of ways. Whether it is the one-on-one planning we do together, the training classes I lead, or a possible book in the next couple of years, I want to be able to influence others so they can make their goals a financial reality. It’s OK to be small, just be yourself and have a passion for what you do, whatever that may be..
...and I am sooo White
At dinner one evening, I was sitting with Pamela Capalad, CFP® of Brunch and Budget. She is doing AMAZING things with her business in New York. During our meal, she received word of the explosion in the Chelsea area and I could immediately see the concern on her face. She knew the area. She knew people close by. She was truly concerned about them. As I checked my phone, I noticed that several people on my Facebook feed were concerned that their Stitch Fix clothes didn’t fit and they needed to sell them.
What a reality check! I often forget in my ‘white-bread’ world that there are so many people outside of my normal sphere that need help. I have 'first world problems.' Deciding whether to pay the less expensive rent, or move to an area with a safer school is a far different decision than how can I quickly replace my smart phone when the screen cracks.
Last week, I was reminded that planners do great work for all types of people. There are planners available to help every lifestyle, race, creed, color, sexual orientation and any niche you can think of!
Young artists living with roommates in apartments need planning. African-American moms need planning. Third-shift workers need planning. Rich, old guys need planning. Widows and moms need planning. Same-sex couples need planning. Newly minted graduates need planning. Young entrepreneurs need planning. While not everyone lives the same life, the planners at this conference are dedicated to helping everyone who needs planning.
As planners, we often work with those who are much like us. While I don’t restrict my planning to certain people, I am better equipped to serve those that I best understand, and I believe that is working families. I grew up in a one-income household with hand-me-down clothes and reduced-lunch tickets. I’ve seen the cash flow challenges of raising kids and trying to save for retirement. I worked through high school and college because that was the requirement in our home. I've known the stress of being over-extended on credit.
You know who you are. It’s anyone who feels like they are running the rat-race and not getting ahead. One thing that all my clients have in common is competing priorities. My clients tend to look like this:
- Mom and Dad get up in the morning, shuffle the kids off to school, they go to work, come home, pay bills, have some money in their 401(k) and want to make ends meet so they can retire.
- Maybe it’s just Dad that heads off to work and Mom is home taking care of kids, volunteering with the PTA, shopping for the next birthday party, worrying about how to get the kids into college, and wondering when she gets a break.
- Then there are young people just getting married, moving and starting new jobs, looking for a home while trying to juggle saving and student loans.
- Also, there are those who have worked all their lives and at retirement are looking at their assets and asking: Now what? Can we retire? Will we have enough? Do we have to move or downsize? There are so many questions.
If this describes you, then you already know where you can find help.
No one can do everything alone. Not you, and certainly not me. It’s a good idea to focus on what you do best, and have someone else to help with the rest. If you hate to iron, you probably take shirts to the cleaners. If you can’t change a light bulb, you probably hire an electrician to re-wire the bathroom. The same goes for other service providers: repairmen, landscapers, hairdressers, and others. They all provide a service that fill in the gaps where we need more expertise or experience.
This is why you need a financial planner and investment manager. It's all so complicated now, that families can't do it all on their own.
This conference was a great reminder that I need help from other professionals to provide the best planning possible for you. Here are some firms that I already work with and I’d like to heartily thank them for the work they do:
- Life, Disability and Long Term Care Insurance through Low Load Insurance Services
- Investment management through Betterment for Advisors
- Future Scholar 529 Plan for SC families
- CommonBond for student loan refinancing
And as Pathfinder Planning continues to grow, here are plans for future partnering:
- Personalized investment management through TD Ameritrade
- Client taxes done right with Advisor Facing Tax
- 529 Savings with Utah Educational Savings Plan
- More detailed College Planning with EFC Plus
- Health, Dental and Vision insurance with Hummingbird Insurance
- Automated budgeting with the Separate Account Budgeting system
- Be Awesome Not Broke with Garrett Philbin
- Online class for high school seniors heading off to college: I’m Going to College, Now What?
So I’ve outlined plans for the upcoming year and beyond. Look for more information as these services and providers are implemented. And if you are particularly interested in something on this list, reach out and let me know. If I get lots of requests for a specific item, I can move it up on the timeline.
Planning is not a one-time event; it never ends. Even the planner has to continually learn.
Pamela J. Horack, CFP® of Pathfinder Planning LLC provides personal financial planning advice for a simple fee to young adults and working families in North and South Carolina through group classes, one-on-one planning, and ongoing advice.