What Financial Health Means to Me

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What Financial Health Means to Me

 I will never forget the look on his face as long as I live; a look filled with utter despair and defeat is not easily forgotten.

I met Bob early on in my career as a financial advisor, and he asked me to prepare a financial plan for him, because he was ready to retire. As a new advisor, I was filled with excitement at the prospect of utilizing my newly found tools and resources to help Bob plan for this big life goal. After an extensive initial meeting, I prepared Bob’s wealth management analysis and quite frankly dreaded the meeting where I would present my findings.

At the time of our first meeting, Bob was 64 years old and looking to leave the job he felt was killing him and he was relying on me to give him the answer he wanted; however, after all of my analysis I knew I was going to give him the answer he dreaded. We sat down for coffee and engaged in small talk until I finally broke the tension and informed Bob that despite the fact that he desperately wanted to retire, he was not financially healthy enough to retire.

I will never forget the look on his face as long as I live; a look filled with utter despair and defeat is not easily forgotten.

The best way that I can describe Bob’s expression is similar to telling someone who just ran a marathon that they had another five miles to run. He looked like he was ready to celebrate a huge accomplishment, only to be told that the finish line was nowhere in site. It was in that moment, that I vowed to make a change in the trajectory of people’s financial lives.

The pain of witnessing Bob’s expression solidified in me the importance of financial health; and I realized the key to achieving it would happen with time and focus. Just like many of us couldn’t run a marathon without months of training and following a plan, we also couldn’t achieve financial health without training and a plan.

After my meeting with Bob and other’s like it, I grasped the fact that financial health is just as critical as physical health; however, there are far less tools and resources to help with a financial health journey as there are for a physical health journey.

I will never forget the look on his face as long as I live; a look filled with utter despair and defeat is not easily forgotten.

Almost four years have passed now since that fateful meeting with Bob; and I have created a business and life around providing financial health to others. Achieving financial health, like achieving physical health is not an overnight process. In this day and age, we all want a quick fix and an easy solution; however, the reality is that if we want to get financially healthy, we have to commit to a sometimes long and exhausting journey.

Today, my goal for every client is to achieve financial freedom long before he or she thought possible. Rather than tell them they have five more miles to run, me dream is to tell them they’ve crossed the finish line and now they can relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor; and the only way to cross that finish line early is to lead a financially healthy life along the way.

Working with clients of all financial shapes and sizes, I can assure you that financial health is attainable for all, but only those who are willing to put in the time and work. Your financially healthy choices may not feel good now, but if you need more motivation to start your journey, just remember that you don’t want to feel like Bob. The sooner you start down the path to financial health, the faster you will get to the finish line aka financial freedom and I guarantee that your 64-year-old self will thank you.

Do you feel financially healthy? What obstacles get in the way of your achieving financial health?

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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

14 COMMENTS

  1. How’s Bob doing today? I do feel financially healthy today, but that was not always the case. It took years of mistakes and bad behavior with money before we had a wake-up call and made a change. It so important to start as early as possible and stay consistent. We all need to do our part to further the conversation.

    • Bob is doing okay now. He is partially retired which is a step in the right direction and he was able to do this by cutting down a lot of his lifestyle choices. He’s hoping to fully retire in the next two years. 5 years past his goal, but sooner than I thought he could.

  2. Hey, Shannon!

    Great article, although I felt really bad for Bob. Sure is a shame he didn’t get with somebody earlier.

    Once again, some great information. It’s awesome to see your expectations for your business. “Today, my goal for every client is to achieve financial freedom long before he or she thought possible.” That’s what everybody needs from a financial advisor.

    I had one that had a skewed concept. Her’s seemed to be, “Today, my goal for every client is for them to help me achieve financial freedom as soon as possible.” Yep, got rid of her!

    Anyway, you’ve got a great vision. I really enjoy Martinis and Your Money. Learning a ton and it helps pass the time while on the Tractor. BTW- When are you gonna get Briand from Debt Discipline on. Seems like there’s some throwing under the bus that needs to happen.

    😀

  3. Our biggest obstacles have been health related. Sure, Tim came to the relationship with $20,000 in student loans. But so many other expenses cropped up along the way — not just the $12,000 in oral surgery but small reversals. Then neither of us being able to work for years.

    Even now, with relative financial stability, we have expenses people are age just… don’t have. The $27,000 we’re paying for Tim’s dental implants this year is nearly 1/3 of our remaining mortgage balance. It’s two years of a fully funded SEP.

    It’s not that our health isn’t worth it, but it’s kept us from getting very far in long-term stability.

  4. Let’s just say that I should…. I’ve saved and invested around 20-22x my annual expenses… But in trying to save even more it seems there are new challenges creeping up… I’d really love to pay off my mortgage… so that my expenses will basically amount to taxes, repairs, healthcare and food…

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