I recently had a series of new clients in my office apologizing for financial choices they had made. Whether it was building an expensive home or making a large withdrawal from their IRA for a major purchase, it struck me as odd that they felt the need to apologize to someone, in this case me. This reminded me of an article I wrote more than 7 years ago about judgement free planning. I decided to dust off that old article and revisit the topic.
We all know that revealing personal financial information is fraught with fear and emotion. The impact of feeling judged might be one reason behind the fear and emotion. Many clients ask us if they are like our other clients. We clearly want to know how we stack up compared to others. There are also the apologies like I mentioned above, expressing regret in hindsight whether wishing you had saved more; lamenting you should have spent less; regretting past financial choices.
There is no comparing. Every client has a reason for seeking assistance with their financial planning. Individual circumstances and specific goals are what set you apart, which is why I started with: “You are the expert on your own life”. We are here to collaborate, educate, motivate, and support your priorities. We know, both you and me, that everyone’s circumstances are different (e.g., inheritance) and everyone’s dreams are different (e.g., second home purchase).
In the example at the beginning, that couple learned that brainstorming with us resulted in creative strategies. Strategies they admitted they could not have come up with on their own. But we were brainstorming together, not saying you shouldn’t build the house, or this will never work. That is not our approach. Our approach is working together to arrive at thoughtful personalized solutions.
The desire for a life well-lived is a meaningful goal and you deserve meaningful advice. Seriously, we do not walk away from the meeting thinking about how much better you could have done getting to where you are today. Where you are today is here, and we look forward to helping you make wise financial decisions towards a life well-lived, based on your definition of a life well-lived.
Cathie Straub, CFP®, CDFA®