I begin “most” days by working out. I try and do planks – on my forearms for a minute, to the right for a minute, to the left for a minute. Anyone who says that time flies has never planked! It’s not easy. My whole body shakes sometimes. I sweat. I can feel every muscle crying out. It’s not just because I am a 50-something and 6 foot 6. I’m in reasonably good shape and don’t have a “Dad bod” as my daughters call it (I used to). It’s because I am asking my body to do something that isn’t exactly the most natural position. To be frank, it hurts!
When I plank, I try to distract myself. It makes the time go faster. My mind often focuses on financial services – I can’t help it. It’s what I do. And I think about all the things I would change if I could. Here are just a few random thoughts:
- It would be “cool” to save as a kid. Yes, the cool kids would forego the lure of candy and sneakers and shiny new toys and say, “No thanks. I am saving for my future and it’s going to be great.” When I think of all the money that kids spend on nonsense, just because it’s been advertised as the thing to own in order to be cool it is just amazing. With three daughters, my family is just as guilty. When I moved last year and downsized our home because my daughters are grown, I had a large pile of evidence to this fact – all discarded. A major “heap” of flash-in-the-pan that amounted to one big garage sale. What a major head start in life they would have if some of this was saved instead. Financial security is cool – we just need to get started on it early.
- Clubs like mathletes and chess would also be cool. Having a logical mind and being able to reason would help people so much in life. There are numerous ways to get to an answer, but you need to think it through. (Chess is actually a great game – I am terrible and need to be reminded every time which piece moves where but kudos to all who discover this fact at a young age and not just because they were camping and it was raining and there was nothing else to do). Having the ability to see different approaches toward an objective is something I love to help my clients with.
- It would be cool to date “nerds” in high school. Nerds rule the world. Hanging out with people who are smarter and more skilled rubs off. We are who we surround ourselves with. It always struck me as odd that they have big celebrations for athletics (I played basketball and benefited from this) but not generally for major academic achievements. Why are there no parades for that? That is often harder to do! I have been fortunate to count among my friends people who are smart and disciplined and good at what they do – and they make me better. When I hang out with my coffee klatch, the thoughts, the ideas, the resources just flow. Knowing people who are different than you makes you a more well-rounded person and a better thinker who benefits from fresh perspectives. Having a diverse group of friends is the best – why blend in when you can stand out? I love the people who had the courage to stand out even when it meant they stood alone. They are the true heroes. My clients are very diverse and I learn from them every single day.
- It would be cool to listen. From a very young age we are taught to talk. Nobody ever really encourages us to listen with the intent of listening rather than with the intent of responding. What a better world we would have if people listened to each other instead of talked over each other. Sometimes I am tempted to begin my meetings with clients the way Dr. Frasier Crane on the Frasier sitcom did on his call in show: “I’m Listening”. It’s funny, sometimes people are surprised that I am quiet in a meeting and they ask me why and I answer, “Because I am listening to you.” It’s not something people are used to! Listening to my clients is essential.
- It would be cool to admit we don’t know everything. “Those who think they know everything are annoying to those of us who do” – a fun quote but nobody can possibly know everything. Sorry, guys, it’s true. I love when people admit they made a mistake with their finances or don’t understand something – these kinds of clients are more apt to follow advice because they realize the value of it. I often consult with experts who specialize in a particular financial realm when applying my craft. I don’t know everything. I admit it. And I think I am better for it and can offer my clients the benefits of a wealth management team approach with accountants, attorneys, asset managers, and other specialists.
Am I cool? It depends who you ask (Don’t ask my daughters). But I like to think that over the years I am truly realizing what’s important and I am “cool”-er for it.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Seek advice from a qualified professional before taking any action regarding your finances.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place
Albany, NY 12203
(518) 867-4000 x105