Ready to Aim for Financial Wellness? You Need a Guide
Editor’s Note: This article is Part 4 of a month-long series on financial illiteracy in America. April marks National Financial Literacy Month, and to help raise Americans’ financial awareness, SafeMoney.com is teaming up with the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA), a leading financial literacy non-profit, to spread the word. You can find Part 3, “Watch Out for These Financial Blunders,” and can read here our dynamic interview with Jim Chilton, the CEO and founder of SOFA.
Have you ever seen a documentary on thrill-seekers heading to some far-flung destination?
Scaling Mount Everest. Base-jumping off Europe’s Troll Wall. Biking on the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia. Traversing the Alps.
Whether one of these treks or someplace else, chances are you will see that they have something in common. Rarely do the thrill-seekers go it alone.
Their expeditions often include some sort of guide. And not just any guide. It’s someone who knows the terrain, understands the challenges, and offers the experience to successfully navigate potential mishaps.
Although they don’t involve thrill-seeking, money matters can operate in the same fashion. Without guidance from an advisor, it’s easy to make choices that lead not to financial wellness but to fiscal misery.
Positive Results Require a Behavioral Reset
From spending to investing, financial successes and setbacks are driven by our decisions and behaviors, explains Jim Chilton, CEO and Founder of the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA). The first step toward positive results is changing how we manage our money, which begins with personal spending.
“Since behaviors (thoughts, habits, actions) influence our results, our first decision is to realize we need to change our decision-making,” Chilton says. “Instead of thinking ‘we need it,’ why don’t we evaluate how that purchase – an item’s cost, ‘taking away from our money’ – fits into our planning.”
“No planning, no budget, we get it!” Chilton continues. “If we have priorities set, then we probably move on.”
In other words, managing money without a plan is like steering a ship without a rudder. There isn’t a clear direction to take or a means by which to keep track of progress. It’s a real problem, as just three percent of Americans have a written financial plan, according to Chilton.
But by working with a Financial Advisor, you can develop your own financial blueprint and also receive crucial guidance in how to put your best foot forward.
Planning Brings More Certainty
Similar to how expeditions benefit from the guide’s savvy, you can benefit from the vision, clarity, and accountability that comes from a Financial Advisor’s expertise.
If you were traveling, you wouldn’t go without a GPS or a map for directions. Our financial lives are the same. We need a roadmap to help guide our money behaviors and choices – and to know what steps we need to take financially, says Chilton.
“Just like driving to that specific spot, that you’ve never arrived at, you need specific navigation so you don’t wind up lost,” he explains.
Not only that, it’s also important for your personal plan to spell out what your goals are.
“Just like you do when planning for your money, combine time sequences- short-term to long-term time goals- with specific personal plans and goals. Whether it’s next year’s big trip or in 19 years you calling it quits at work,” Chilton says. “Matching up your time with your goals leads to a disciplined arrival.”
A Financial Advisor will help you align your personal goals with those expected timelines in the future.
How Can a Financial Advisor Help Me?
So, what are some other ways that a Financial Advisor can benefit you? First, they help take the guesswork out of planning for the future. With their guidance, you can develop a clear outlook of your current financial progress and where you need to go.
Here are some other ways that a Financial Advisor can increase your chances of success in reaching financial wellness:
Building and Maintaining a Personal Financial Plan
You will receive professional help in cultivating the blueprint of how you manage your money, now and in the years ahead.
Bringing Accountability to Your Financial Journey
By working with the right advisor, you now have an accountability partner to “answer to.” Your Financial Advisor will help you recognize positive developments in your financial journey and accept responsibility for mistakes as well as missteps.
Covering Gaps in Your Financial Knowledge
Your advisor does this every day. They know the unique challenges and issues facing today’s investors just like you. They can help you tackle those potential roadblocks and overcome them, one step at a time.
Putting an End to Procrastination
Having an advisor will help move the needle from inaction to action. Are you ready to start moving toward more financial wellness and peace of mind? You must take action to progress forward.
It’s time to do something about it, and a Financial Advisor will help you take those steps and stay motivated.
The Alternative to Not Taking Action
Everyone, from families just starting out to successful business people and wealthy investors, has something about their financial lives they can improve upon.
If we don’t receive financial help, we might not be doing everything we can to make the most of our money. And what about those struggling with money issues? We will continue to persist in the poor behaviors and money decisions that put us in the hole we currently are in.
And worse, if we have a family, we might pass on these behaviors and model of decision-making to our children.
As Chilton observes, most people copy their parents in their behaviors, including in how they approach money matters. If those after us don’t learn the fundamentals of cash management and finance, they are bound to repeat the same mistakes.
“’Do as I say, not as I do,’ is a time-tested non-starter for those we are trying to financially teach and raise. Some say a budget is a mathematical confirmation of our suspicions!” Chilton explains.
“The very idea of getting involved with our finances can be, as it should be, the answer to many personal problems. Divorce, anger, frustration, health issues…”
“Why go down that path and deal with those problems? Plan ahead,” Chilton continues. “Build a blueprint and hold yourself accountable.”
Don’t Procrastinate or Think You Can Wait Until Tomorrow
Start working toward more financial wellness and peace of mind today. Working with a Financial Advisor is the first step in your looming financial success story.
SOFA offers powerful, no-cost financial workshops to give you real-world insights in how to combat financial problems and make the most of your money. You can request a workshop for your company, group, place of worship, or organization by visiting SOFA’s website.
If you are ready to seek guidance from a financial professional, many guides are ready to help you at SafeMoney.com. Use our “Find a Financial Professional” section to connect with someone directly. Should you need a personal referral, call us at 877.476.9723.