Don’t Let Your Finances Get Blown Away

This blog is courtesy of Russ Thornton of Wealthcare for Women.


There I was, standing in my driveway on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, unleashing a stream of expletives.

Just 2 weeks prior, I went outside to use my backpack leaf blower.

And it wouldn’t start.

And while I’m no small engine expert, I pulled out the spark plug and cleaned it off and ran a few more tests to see if I could get it to fire up.

No matter what I tried, nothing.

So after borrowing my neighbor’s blower, I took mine around the corner to the “helpful hardware folks” at Ace Hardware.

They kept it a few days and called me to say it was starting up just fine now.

I went to pick it up and spoke to their leaf blower guy. He said he couldn’t pinpoint the issue, but he emptied the fuel reservoir and put some TrueFuel in it. He yanked on the starter cord with me standing right next to him and it fired right up.

And then about 2 weeks, later, on a Sunday afternoon it wouldn’t crank at all.

That’s why I was cursing.

So I throw the blower in the back of my SUV and take it back to Ace. Thankfully their leaf blower guy is there and we take it outside for him to give it a quick inspection.

He tries to crank it with no luck.

He replaces the spark plug. No luck.

He “thinks” it’s the ignition module acting up. But he’ll have to tear it down and figure it out. He’ll call me when he knows more.

Hopefully, I’ll be back in leaf blowing action soon.

And just so you know, here’s a satellite image of my home, courtesy of Google Maps. We’re completely tree-covered, so while a working leaf blower isn’t a necessity in the Spring or Summer, it sees a lot of action in the Fall and into the Winter where I’m sometimes blowing leaves 2 and 3 times a week.

I share all this with you to ask you this:

How do you know when it’s time to be patient and stick with your financial plan or when it’s time to try something new?

My blower wasn’t working. I took it to get fixed.

It’s still not working. I took it to get fixed. Again.

There’s some trial-and-error going on here in an effort to first diagnose and then prescribe a solution so my leaf blower will work again.

Being patient and continuing to try to start it myself likely would have ended in a lot of frustration and no small amount of obscenities being uttered. And it almost certainly wouldn’t have started.

It was time to try something different. And get some help.

I often see some parallels with this concept and your financial planning.

How do you know when it’s time to simply be patient and give your financial plan time to work versus giving up and trying something new?

In my experience, if you’re working with a trustworthy, fiduciary financial advisor, it often makes sense to be patient and give it more time.

Financial planning isn’t a sprint. It’s not even a marathon.

It’s more like one of those obstacle course races you might have seen, but instead of it lasting a few hours, it lasts the rest of your life.

Yet, so many people are quick to dismiss something that they feel isn’t working only to go try something different.

And whether something different is a new DIY approach or hiring a new financial advisor, they often end up doing essentially the same things over and over again.

This is reminiscent of the definition of insanity.

So should you judge the progress of your financial planning over weeks, months or years?

Is financial planning progress defined as beating the market? Achieving your goals? Reaching financial independence?

While I have some opinions about these matters, the truth is that your definition of financial planning progress and even financial success is unique to you.

Everyone’s financial plan is different.

If your financial plan isn’t unique to you, then you don’t have a financial plan.

You may have an investment plan that’s similar to someone else, but it’s not a personal financial plan without the “personal” part.

So while you may often be tempted to throw in the towel with your current financial plan or financial advisor relationship, I would encourage you to stick with it. It certainly can’t hurt to get a 2nd opinion from another qualified advisor, but as I’ve said many times before, often the best advice is,

“Don’t just do something, stand there.”

Otherwise, if you allow yourself to be blown from one idea or strategy or advisor or plan to the next, your finances might get blown away too.

And that’s the exact opposite of what financial planning is all about.

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