Part 1 of 2: Your Financial Wellness is Like Going to the Doctor; ESTABLISH A “BASELINE”

doctor-chartIt wasn’t too long ago that I turned 40 years old. That magic number really didn’t do much for me. I felt the same mentally as I did 15 years earlier. Physically, I felt generally the same too; definitely playing more basketball now than I ever did. But when one turns 40, everyone pushes you to start seeing the doctor on a regular basis. I never had a regular doctor; never needed one. But here I was a day over 40 and like a good boy, I looked up the local doc and scheduled myself a physical. This included going in once for blood work and then basically a follow-up with the doc to go over the results. Pretty painless really.

The good news is that they doc said everything looked pretty good. But the most important thing was that we now had a BASELINE to compare against for future tests.

As I thought about it, this is very similar to what we do for our clients. Since DWM started over a dozen of years ago, we have helped our clients with comprehensive financial planning. Clients provide complete and accurate data, and using our expertise along with our state-of-the-art software, we help them develop a goal-based comprehensive plan. We give them 24/7 access via the cloud and regularly review and update the plan/scenarios.

When clients start the financial planning process, it’s very similar to that first physical I took a couple years back. The data they provide is pretty raw and usually we have little to compare to. In fact, many have to consciously track their spending for several months before they have a good feel for what it is. Data is not always so “black and white” and may need some work. But that’s okay! By developing an initial plan, one that may really be a “rough draft”, we in essence have created that BASELINE for future planning.

Once this BASELINE or initial plan is developed, it can be tweaked and updated for changes to the client’s livelihood. Furthermore, the client while working along with DWM, knows what they’re looking for now to make the plan more relevant and thus a better guide for their long-term situation.

Because at the end of the day, the plan is only as good as the assumptions built into it. If someone wants to kid themselves that they’re going to win the lottery in 10 years and be able to ride off into the sunset, the plan is frankly a fraud and worthless to the client and the planner involved. On the other hand, by putting forward accurate data and making realistic and/or conservative assumptions, now we have a plan that is worthwhile – one that point outs your strengths and weaknesses and what needs work, what’s on track, etc.

As one can see, this kind of comprehensive financial planning is an on-going job and not a one-time shot in the dark. That being said, everyone needs a starting point. For those of you already working with a professional financial planner like DWM, you’re on the right track. For those of you not working with DWM already and getting the ongoing service described above, stay tuned for next week’s blog on our complimentary FINANCIAL WELLNESS ASSESSMENT.