Successful financial planning involves more than the balance in your portfolio. A strong financial plan represents what is important to you as an individual – how you think about money and investing – your Fiscalosophy.
Consider these two scenarios:
- William spends lots of money on trips and entertainment. His father was a workaholic who never took time to really enjoy what he had earned.
- Christine never feels she saves enough, despite the fact she is a millionaire. She grew up in a large family that constantly struggled to make ends meet; at one point the family was homeless.
Both of these examples illustrate the impact your individual backstory can have on how you think about money and investing. These stories are an essential part of your Fiscalosophy.
Have you ever thought about how and why you make money decisions as you do? Before talking about strategies, tactics, allocations, and categories, it is essential that you understand how you think about investing and money matters.
Every decision we make involves both money and values. Fiscalosophy is understanding the connection between the two, and using that connection to make the right decisions when it comes to investing.
Understanding your own Fiscalosophy begins with answering a series of questions designed to help you develop a plan that works for your unique set of values and circumstances:
- Debt: How much debt do you have? Are you comfortable with that level of debt?
- Savings: How much do you have in savings? Are you comfortable with your level of savings?
- Spending: What is your level of spending? Are you comfortable with your level of spending?
- Giving: What is your level of charitable contributions? Are you comfortable with your level of charitable contributions?
- Stock Market: Does investing in the stock market make you nervous or excited? Are you comfortable with your level of investment in the stock market?
- Insurance: How do you feel about insurance? Are you comfortable with your level of cover?
- Children: What is your attitude regarding supporting your children or grandchildren? Do you expect them to earn their own way, or do you want to give them every advantage? Somewhere in between? Are you comfortable with what you can provide them?
- Retirement: When do you plan to retire? As soon as possible? Never? Somewhere in between? Are you comfortable with your current retirement plan?
Answering these questions completely and honestly will help to ensure that your plan supports your values.
It is important that we understand and appreciate how you think about money, including how you got to where you currently are. Just as you can’t expect your doctor to diagnose what’s wrong with you without knowing your complete medical history, it is difficult for us to develop a comprehensive plan without knowing your Fiscalosophy.
If you have a spouse or partner, it’s important that both of you answer the questions above. You may be surprised to learn that you don’t always share the same Fiscalosophy. The areas you disagree on are the ones you need to especially focus on. After all, if you aren’t aligned, you’ll have difficulty fulfilling your dreams and reaching your goals, even with an adviser’s help.
How you think about money is just as important as how you manage it. Good investment results are the outcome of prudence, patience, and a sound investment policy––all components of a sound Fiscalosophy. Your financial plan should be unique to your situation (what you have) and your values (your philosophy).
As humans, we make mistakes and sometimes do things that are not in our own best interests. If you answer the above questions thoroughly and honestly, you will understand what you need to do to spend less than you make, save as much as you need to, and not make rash decisions. Our role is to act as your guide and do our best to keep you on the right path.
The greatest reason to have this conversation is that once we know where you stand, every recommendation we make, and every decision you make, is based on both philosophical and financial goals. Your decisions are no longer based on reacting to a market that is in constant flux or a generic formula, but rather on what works for you.
We have an online version of the Fiscalosophy profile that tracks your results and shows the variance between you and your spouse or partner. Contact our office and we’d be happy to send you a link to complete your own Fiscalosophy. See below for contact details.