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Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing author Carl Richards, who wrote The One-Page Financial Plan.  Mr. Richards is also a Financial Planner, and notes that in conversations with clients being overwhelmed at the prospect of taking action relating to
their finances causes many individuals to do nothing.  The One-Page Financial plan was written with the premise that taking action in regards to your finances does not have to be this enormous production, it can simply be a one page document.  The one page concept is based upon an individual prioritizing the most important things that can affect their finances.  Below are the questions
posed to the author.
 
Q. You mentioned automating payments and savings as a component of budgeting.  Why do you think so many people overlook the benefits of automation when it comes to their
finances?

A.People are busy, and have an addiction to urgency.  As individuals we tend to focus on what is in front of us.  Something like automation could save a ton of time in the future, but people do not see the savings in time now.

Q. You stated that you and your wife had a tough conversation about cutting expenses.  How do you think planning together or separately affects accomplishing financial goals? Also what should couples be discussing?
 
A. As much as possible couples should plan together, especially in relationships where you depend on others financially.  People will always have things that are important to them, some of which you may not agree with, but you should understand.  Any conversation except shame or blame is good, because dialogue is helpful.  Couples should talk about money, buying habits, and about the things that make them feel a certain way. 
 
Q. You mentioned the John Paulson quote about buying a house in the book.  Why do you think investors are so susceptible to generalized advice that does not pertain to them?
 
A.  Sometimes people become anxious and in doing so look for shortcuts.  The complexity of dealing with certain topics and feeling overwhelmed leads to taking the opinions of experts.  When listening to experts it is always important to get proper diagnosis so that the advise is relevant to the individual.
 
Q.You said that there is no more efficient answer to how to handle finances than “Why is money important to you.” So what I would like to know is how you had a shift in mindset to viewing money as a tool.
 
A. I do not think of money as being good or bad.  Money is just a tool that becomes a means to an end.  The end goal is happiness. 

Q. You stated that Budgeting = Awareness.  Why do you think people have such a gap between what they think they are doing, and what they are actually doing when it comes to budgeting or other aspects of managing their finances?
 
A. It comes down to time, and people not paying attention.  Budgeting allows people to start noticing how their money gets spent, and is good for the act of being aware.  People should not think of spending money as good or bad, but as an interesting observation.  Tracking = awareness, and awareness leads to a behavior change.
 
Q. You mentioned taking emotions out of the equation as a reason people seek the help of advisors.  Tell me more about how emotions plague peoples finances and how they can seek the right objective help?
 
A.  It is not possible to separate emotions from financial decisions.  When it comes to finances you are not talking about spreadsheets, but about peoples dreams and goals.  By being so close to decisions being made emotions can impede progress.  The right objective help comes from someone who can do the following: point out blind spots, give honest feedback, and find out the important details that can prevent emotional mistakes.
 
Q. What are some of the main things that people miss when making a financial plan?
 
A. Incorporating values, and discussing why you are making a plan get missed as the foundation of many financial plans.  People tend to think of financial planning as a decision to make, without deciding where to go. Thinking of financial planning as simply a decision is the same as getting in a vehicle without a destination.
 
Q. You stated that when it comes to investing the only goal that matters is yours.  Lots of people do get bummed out though when they learn how well their peers are doing.  So in having conversations with people who may appear better off, what sort of questions should people be asking to get a correct picture of another persons
financial situation in relation to their own?
 
A. None.  Do not worry about how others are doing.  Stop asking questions or making observations, because you do not know all the details to the other persons situation.  A better use of time would be to make decisions based on your own goals.
 
Q. What is the main takeaway that you would like people to get from The One-Page Financial Plan.
 
A.That making changes and addressing your finances does not have to be that hard.  People can make a difference in their lives when given the right tools.

 


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