“There’s nothing like a good plan coming together” is a phrase I heard often growing up. My dad, a project manager with an engineering background, has spent the last 30 years of his career planning. Major construction projects around the world dealing with tight budgets, environmental regulations and politics, you name it, he’s probably planned for it.
Now, when I heard that famous phrase of his, it was usually something much less serious that he was referring to. Maybe it was planning our annual vacation to the Outer Banks, a Jimmy Buffet concert with friends or just figuring out how to fit a Costco trip in on a Fall Saturday with three kids playing soccer games all throughout the Washington D.C. metro area. My dad understood the value of planning vs ‘the plan’ because he knew the first time the GPS said “rerouting” that the plan was no longer accurate.
As a kid, we often don’t see the importance of planning until something goes wrong. Maybe you spent your lunch money on scented erasers at the school store so you’re only left with enough money for chips from the vending machine. Or ‘forgetting’ about your summer reading until the last weekend of summer, so you spend your last hours of freedom not with friends, but reading, writing and contemplating how being grounded for the first few weeks of school was a good idea.
As an adult, planning gradually becomes more serious and apart of everyday life. A recent graduate learning to grocery shop efficiently so they can stop ordering takeout, newlyweds saving for their first home while also trying to start a family or a late-career professional figuring out what life will look like when they step away from a fulfilling job and embark on their version of retirement.
Planning is a continuous process always needs to be adjusted and updated.
Have you ever made a New Years resolution to eat healthy and exercise only to find yourself a Super Bowl party a few weeks later and the only food options are pizza and wings? Do you find yourself at the gym the next day or back to your old ways? The most perfectly crafted plan is useless unless you plan to evolve and update the plan as you go.
Like many people and even a lot of us in the personal finance industry, I didn’t grow up with a Wall Street Journal in one hand a calculator in the other. I wish I could sit here and say that my interest in financial planning started with cute childhood story of checking stock prices in the newspaper with my dad or that I created a budget the day I got my first allowance money ($5 woo!). I didn’t have a significant life event where I experienced the benefits of proper estate planning (or lack thereof) and my first experience investing with real money was my 401(k) at 22.
So what’s the point in saying all this? Financial planning is a unique experience should mean different things to different people.
The CFP® Board defines financial planning as “the process of determining whether and how an individual can meet life goals through the proper management of financial resources. Financial planning integrates the financial planning process with the financial planning subject areas.”¹
I like to say inherited my parents’ skill sets exactly 50/50. My dad, the engineer, gave me the curiosity of numbers and how variables work together to form different outcomes. My mom, an educator, taught me how to communicate effectively and to always keep it simple.
To me, financial planning is the connection of life and money, accounting for time. It’s a continuous process and “there’s nothing like a good plan coming together.”
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