Could there be a more boring phrase?
What does financial planning make you think of? Does it conjure up images of sitting in a big fancy office with guys in suits (nothing against guys in suits... I'm sometimes one of them) who want to talk to you about retirement goals and asset allocations?
Or maybe it's the stereotypical ads and commercials that keeping asking you if you know your "retirement number" and then show you pictures of beaches, trails and mountains designed to represent some grand journey that culminates in serenity and oneness with nature.
It's no wonder that we have no desire to focus on financial planning. It seems boring and distant. Meanwhile (in the here and now) our kids need school supplies, you're trying to grow a business and the family needs a vacation.
By focusing so intensely on retirement and setting it up as this pinnacle of all our efforts, the industry has turned millions of people off to the idea of financial planning. For one thing, retirement means different things to different people.
To some, retirement is clocking out at age 65 and moving to Florida. And there is nothing wrong with that.
To others, however (especially entrepreneurs), retirement is not a far-off milestone or specific age. It can be a lifestyle that starts now. The F.I.R.E. Movement is inspiring many people to re-think retirement and take a different path than their parents took.
As entrepreneurs we in a unique position to design the life that we want. While business ownership comes with its own set of challenges, we tend to have more freedom and more control over our time.
To me, financial planning doesn't have to be the traditional model of "work 40 hours a week for 40 years and then stop so you can do fun things." To me, it's also a way to direct your path to create the life you want right now.
For example, maybe you want to take your family on two vacations every year. This is a "right now" desire. Yet have you ever taken a vacation in the past but then felt stress over it because you used debt to pay for it or because you over-spent during the trip and you weren't sure how it would affect your cash flow for the rest of the year?
Financial planning helps you avoid this type of stress. It's designed to help you plan ahead for things like this so you can enjoy living in the moment because you know exactly how you paid for it and that everything is ok.
Maybe you want to spend more time with your family and you're tired of working all the time. The traditional planning approach would say "Suck it up! Keep working until you retire and then you can see your family." But maybe instead you start a business and grow that business into an asset with real value. And maybe that business gives you the freedom to spend more time with your family now. Financial planning can help make this a reality.
Financial planning can also help us actually take advantage of the life we've created. I've lost count of how many times I have to stop and remind myself that it's ok stop working on a weekday at 3pm so I can take my son to the park. Often the guilt of feeling like I have to work all the time to stay ahead is overwhelming. But if I refer back to our plan, it helps remind me that we have made intentional choices about how we are directing our money.
Life does not always go according to plan, but being intentional with your money can make the speeds bumps easier to overcome.
Financial planning is not necessarily the fancy office, the guys in suits and the magic retirement number on the mountaintop. It can be a way to shape your life right now to give you more time, more income and more joy.