Money Magazine interviewed several successful individuals, asking them about the smartest financial advice they have ever received. Billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson shared a story about his lack of knowledge in the financial realm and being humble about what you don’t know. Wow! Billionaire Richard Branson! Everyone else in the world (billionaire or not) knows everything about money—how to make it, how to use it, how to spend it, and how to invest it. If you asked 10 of your friends, business associates, and family members the same random question about money, I bet none of them will give you the same answer… unless, of course, they all listen to the same financial guru talk show host. Why is this?
I agree with Mr. Branson: you just don’t know what you don’t know. And often times it is what you don’t know that will hurt you. If you just focus on the answers to specific questions (the cut and paste method), you may not find out what you don’t know and end up missing the boat entirely. It’s about knowing the right questions that need to be asked relevant to your unique situation. You would probably agree with me that your situation is much different from those of your friends, business associates and family members. You have different lifestyles, goals and dreams about the future, families, financials and feelings regarding risk vs. reward. A cut and paste answer rarely applies—especially with today’s ever-changing economic uncertainty.
Think of your 3 favorite restaurants. Now imagine the head chef from each made his/her very best dish for you. Sounds splendid, right? Of course it does! Now imagine if you took a big bowl and mixed these three dishes together with a wire whisk. How does that sound? Not so good, right? So why do we do that with our money? We cut and paste every strategy that sounds good and mix it all together. No matter how superb each strategy may be, when you mix the 3 they may not mesh well together at all.
Many individuals make the assumption that money is about money. Well, it is and it isn’t. Money is a tool…but how it is earned, saved, invested, maximized, leveraged, taxed, lost, protected, spent, given, or inherited can be done in a million different ways. How can the word on the street be the right thing for you, your unique situation, your family dynamics, your past, your future, your goals, your feelings about risk?
Thomas Edison stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If you want to find the 10,000 ways that won’t work on your own, then keep cutting and pasting. Your other option is a Life Plan—a holistic approach to your money that addresses the questions around you and the ones you love the most. An approach that turns your money into what it should be—a tool. We have lived your life through the multitudes of experiences with the families we have worked with in one area or another over the last 40 plus years—we have seen 10,000 plus ways that didn’t work. But, the biggest lesson we have learned is that it’s a lot easier to take the time and learn to swim than keep treading water every time a decision needs to be made. It takes some time and it isn’t always simple, but would it be worth it to save you 10,000 attempts that may or may not work?