Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in Career Day at Beard Elementary. Often, I get to speak to groups of people, but this was my first time in front of the high-stakes critics who are fifth graders. To make my part more challenging, I was the guy who had to follow an FBI SWAT officer. I learned that in the hierarchy of "Cool," FBI SWAT is significantly higher than financial planners.
On my way to the school, it occurred to me that I should think about how to explain what I do to a fifth grader. What I do is hard enough to explain to adults, so how will I engage these eleven-year-olds? I told them this story: "I LOVE Reese's peanut butter cups. They keep me addicted through the year with their seasonal shapes like hearts, easter bunnies, and Christmas Trees, all of which change the peanut butter-chocolate ratio. However, you will reach an age when you can no longer consume junk food like you do as a child or teenager. In my case, I had to realize that I was in an unhealthy and toxic relationship with food. I didn't set out to have a bad relationship with food, but I was never taught or interested in eating healthy." This is the same relationship I see most people having with money.
No one starts out wanting a lousy relationship with money, but without help, how are you supposed to know what to do once you start having an income? My goal as a financial planner is to help clients have a better, more meaningful relationship with money. The kids grasped the primary function of my job as much as they could, but if nothing else, I wanted them to hear me say one thing, "Money will not make you happy or solve your problems; it will, however, reveal your character."
Physical health requires daily eating and nutrition, but financial health requires income. Just like with physical nutrition, your food choices will impact the body's long-term health, and so will the decisions you make with your income, affecting the health of your finances. A lot of thought and intentionality needs to go into what you are doing with your income now and how you will keep it going once it stops. That is what I do in a literal sense; income in the form of dollars and cents is not where you should start financial planning.
A successful investor starts planning for the income they need for their soul, which is the recognition of the deepest convictions of your heart and expressing those convictions through your time and money. It is not the amount of dollars and cents income for your lifestyle that matters; it is the income to your soul that will bring enjoyment, happiness, and purpose to your financial plan. If investors came to the table with their goals of feeding my soul first, my body second, and my community third, everyone would be richer than they could imagine.