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Fish Out Of Water

Fish Out Of Water

April 24, 2018
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My friend and coach Chalmers Brothers asks a question—maybe you've heard a version of it before.  "When does a fish know he was born in water and lives in water?  When you take him out."  Chalmers uses that question to introduce the concept that all of us live in stories that we tell ourselves—interpretations of the events that go on in our lives.  The events are neutral.  It's our interpretations of those events that determines how we react and what we become.   


One misconception people have about financial advising is that they think it's about numbers.  It's not.  Here's another saying, "Math isn't money, and money isn't math."  In my world, planning is about creating options for clients as they proceed through their lives.  We don't know what's coming down the road.  There's an old Yiddish saying, "Man plans, and God laughs."  It's not to say planning is irrelevant.  It's important to have a plan.  It's also important to understand that plans may change.   


If you read much of the literature on financial planning, you'll see a lot of information about numbers and long-term averages, about "Backdoor" Roth IRA's and rates of return.  You might believe that being a financial advisor is mostly about understanding the stock market and picking the right investments at the right time.  It's not.  That's an interpretation that is so prevalent, we don't even realize it's a story someone made up.  That's the water we're all swimming in, and we don't even know we're swimming in it until we step out of it.   


Planning should be about so much more than investing.  It should be about protecting our income and assets and interests.  It should be about managing cash flow to build assets and pay down liabilities so that we create enough net worth to produce the cash flow we will use in retirement if we're fortunate enough to live that long.  It should be about improving financial security today and moving toward financial independence.