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Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement

When considering retirement, do you wonder what financial opportunities you may be missing? Busy lives take over and years pass without taking advantage. In this retirement podcast, Chad Smith and Mike Eklund unveil financial opportunities, to help you balance enjoying today so you are ready to retire later. By day, they are fiduciary fee-only financial advisors who answer questions about tax savings, investment decisions, and how to save more. If you’ve been putting off your financial to-do list or are just not sure what you’ve been missing, subscribe to the show and learn more at www.financialsymmetry.com. Financial Symmetry is a Raleigh Financial Advisor. Proudly serving clients in the Triangle of North Carolina for over 20 years.
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Financial Symmetry: Balancing Today with Retirement
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Now displaying: Category: Goals
Jul 29, 2019

How do you pick the books you read? Do you get book recommendations from friends or are you in a book group? Do you use an Amazon Wishlist or social media to help you discover what you want to read next? In today’s episode, we have some book recommendations for you to consider. We try to bring you a variety of genres ranging from finance to self-help, to fiction. Check out our favorite books of the year and let us know which ones you have read or plan to read. 

Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism might be the book for you if you are addicted to your smartphone or tablet. If you feel the need to constantly check your notifications you might want to check this book out. The idea behind Digital Minimalism is to help reduce the time you spend attached to yan electronic device. It discusses the psychology surrounding our need to constantly check those notifications and offers tips to scale back your tech usage. If you enjoy this book you also might enjoy Cal Newport’s other book called Deep Work.

Chop Wood Carry Water 

Chop Wood Carry Water is a quick, 110-page read that offers life lessons that are learned by a kid who wants to become a samurai warrior (think Karate Kid). This book is about learning to appreciate the process behind the mundane work you have to do in life. The thesis is that if you can focus on doing the boring everyday work with excellence then you can make great things happen. The book encourages you to take each challenge you face not as a test but as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Redemption

Redemption is a work of fiction by David Baldacci which is a mystery-thriller. The main character is a Baldacci favorite, Amos Decker. Redemption makes for an exciting beach or vacation read. Like binge-watching a tv series, you’ll want to rush through it quickly to discover how it ends. 

Principles

The book Principles is another self-help book written by Ray Dalio. It is essentially laying out his 5 step process for building success. He encourages readers on how to deal with setbacks and continue to move forward. These are the 5 steps that he covers in the book:

  • Step 1 - instead of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed see pain as nature’s reminder that there is something important to learn. 
  • Step 2 - potential problems are actually potential improvements
  • Step 3 - diagnose problems to get to their root cause
  • Step 4 - design a plan
  • Step 5 - push through to completion

Books we haven’t read yet but plan to

We also have several books on our wishlist or that we plan to read soon. Mike is looking forward to reading Personal Financial Planning for Executives and Entrepreneurs to help him provide the best service possible for his clients. The Happiness Advantage is another book Mike would like to read that redefines success and happiness. 

Chad is looking forward to reading Messy Marketplace which is about buying companies. He thinks this will help him serve his clients who are in the process of selling businesses. The Family Board Meeting is a book that encourages people to enjoy the experiences they have with their children. The Algebra of Happiness and 30 Lessons for Living are 2 more books that he’d like to read.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:17] Digital Minimalism
  • [6:05] Chop Wood Carry Water
  • [10:54] Redemption
  • [13:38] Principles
  • [16:01] Books we plan to read

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Stitcher <> Google Play

Jan 31, 2017

Mike's turning 40! As he hits this milestone, they guys explore the lessons he learned over more than 17 years in the financial services industry. Mike and Chad will reflect on the top 10 lessons learned from these experiences in this week's episode of the Financial Symmetry Podcast. 

Top 10 Investment Lessons Learned

  1. Following the crowd is not a recipe for investment success. It’s OK to be different.
  2. Sometimes saying no is the best decision.
  3. Making yourself more marketable and attractive to employers through personal development will only help you in the long term through increased earnings and job security.
  4. Limit your employer’s stock to no more than 5% to 10% of your portfolio.
  5. Take the emotion out of investing by setting up an automated investing schedule.
  6. Don’t get caught up in the short-term noise; focus on the things you can control.
  7. A diversified mix of stocks and bonds gives you a better chance of sticking with your investment plan than a 100% stock portfolio. Stocks may provide a greater long-term return, but if you sell at the bottom it doesn’t matter.
  8. Implement and follow an investment strategy and stick with it in good times and bad. If you don’t have a strategy, implement one or have a financial planner help you.
  9. If you can avoid pouring too much money into equities when the market is riding high (March 2009) or too little when it’s sinking low (October 2007), you’ll be better off. Studies by Vanguard, Morningstar and Dalbar show the average investor trails the market by 1.5% to 3% per year due to poor decisions caused by wanting to jump on the latest fad.
  10. Time is your best friend: Implement a disciplined investment strategy, be patient, focus on what you can control (savings, taxes, and so on) and avoid a big mistake. If you can’t do this, hire a fee-only financial planner to help you stay on track.
Jan 17, 2017

Did you meet your New Year's Resolutions last year? Have you set goals for the New Year? In this episode, Chad and Mike discuss the five small steps you can take to make your resolutions attainable.

Nov 8, 2016

Two-thirds of people admit to procrastinating when it comes to their retirement planning. In fact, the average person spends more time planning a vacation then than do planning for retirement. 

Non-urgent financial tasks love to find cracks in our to-do list, falling to the bottom fast. Mark Twain humorized this concept well with his quote, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?”

Jason Zweig captured these problems in his book Your Money and Your Brain. He wrote “Unpleasant tasks often lead to pleasant results down the road. We often procrastinate the worst on things that are good for us [with] saving more in our 401(k)” being near the top. “So the problem is not that we don’t know what’s good for us. It’s just that tomorrow seems like a better time to do it than today.”

In this episode, we share some of the best reasons we’ve read, personal stories, and tips we’ve used to combat financial procrastination.

Strategies to Fight Financial Procrastination

  1. Research on why we procrastinate financially
  2. The implications & cost of continuing to procrastinate
  3. Quick ways to combat putting off what you know you need to do today financially

Facts and Links Mentioned In the Show

  1. People check email an average of 150 times a day. Peak amounts are 900 times a day. [Art of Charm Podcast with Greg McKeown]
  2. More than 2/3 of adults age 55+ admit to procrastinating on retirement planning. [Financial Engines Study 2015]
  3. This survey shows people say that 25 is the right age to start financial planning but in reality they started planning 10.6 years later. [Financial Engines Study 2015]
  4. Top 5 Reasons We Procrastinate
    • 50% blamed stress for their procrastinating
    • 40% said they had higher priorities, even though they were interested in retirement planning
    • 24% were worried about being taken advantage of
    • 23% were not sure how to go about it
    • 20% believed it was too difficult
  5. How to Beat Procrastination by Dr. Travis Bradbury [LinkedIn Pulse]
  6. Why Investors Keep Repeating Their Mistakes [ETF.com interview with Wait Buy Why Founder]

Stacking Benjamins Podcast

You can also check out Chad on the Stacking Benjamins Podcast on a special Halloween edition. He shared 5 horror stories we see regularly from when we first meet with people.

Connect With Chad and Mike

Subscribe To This Podcast

Apple Podcasts <> Spotify <> Google Podcasts

Aug 30, 2016

This week, we're back up with the conclusion of our college planning episode! Mike takes a look at financial strategies for the final few years before your child goes to school, and what you can do to maximize your funding during this time.

Aug 23, 2016

This week, we're covering one of Mike's favorite topics: college planning. Learn what to do during the early years of your child's life to ensure you have the resources you need to support their education.

Jun 14, 2016

In this episode Chad and Mike discuss the top 5 questions they hear from their prospects, with special guest Allison Berger, CFP®.

Feb 3, 2016

So many of us get charged up and rattle off an impressive list of goals but then struggle to follow through.

The disconnect between creating and accomplishing is where life change gets stuck. Months pass and we realize our lives are no different.

Where did progress stop (or never begin)?

Often, it's when life's curveballs throw us off our game. Even though we know the surprises will come, we're not prepared when they show up.

I thought about this recently on a Saturday morning, when my mind drifted to how enjoyable it would be to extend our screened porch. Wait, did this just become a goal?  What about the 10 year anniversary trip we want to take next year? We also know one of our cars will need replacing in a few years.  If we do all three of those things, will we be able to hit our charitable and retirement savings targets as well?

That’s just it. Financial goal planning is a fluid process.  You have to place a value on how important that thing on your mind right now is to the list of other priorities you've thought about on other Saturday mornings.

Without prioritization of goals, we allow our impulses to rule our decision-making.  This thought process ignores your plan, pushing the things that aren't as much "fun" to the bottom of your list.

Having an effective monitoring process increases your odds that follow through will happen.

Recording Your Goals

Many of us don't keep a running list of things we want to accomplish.  This is why when asked about our goals, we freeze and find it hard to get specific other than "to assure we are maximizing our investment returns."

Knowing why you want to get the best investment return helps keep the focus in the right direction.  It also helps identify quantifiable steps that will help you get there.

Goal setting begins with recording.  So often, I will be talking with someone that triggers an idea I want to pursue. If I don't get it down quickly, the idea is forgotten.

One of the most practical digital tools for this is Evernote.  This helps create a central location of all the ideas that are up next on the to do list.  From small goals to large goals.

Having a list, helps compare the newest goal to all the other goals you have in the queue.  For example, is the next home project more important than maxing your 401k this year? Depends on the person and what your long-term plan is. If retiring early is important to you, then 401k savings matters more now than a kitchen remodel.

We also know our desires can change quickly, which is why prioritizing regularly is vital.

This is why we encourage setting a few different lists.

  • Immediate - now to 3 months
  • Short-Term - within 2 years
  • Longer-Term - 3+ years

Some people like to add a lifetime category which helps shape more vision type of actions.  Are you doing the small (and sometimes mundane) things today that get you closer to the lifetime goals?

Assigning time-frames and dollar amounts helps you measure success.

Once you create the ideas of where you want to go, we discuss the best way to implement goals. Even though we all are incentivized differently, a process keeps us moving forward.

Monitoring

Some things are easy to implement and can be done very quickly (setting up Roth IRA contributions for example). But not every goal can be tackled quickly.

If your main goal is lowering spending, then it’s more of a gradual process that takes tracking and regular review. While a future large purchase requires diligence in hitting saving targets.

Consequently, we set up our systems so the top goals for each client are displayed each time we interact with them.

Some examples include next car purchases, home projects, inheritances, or retiring early.

But setting the goals is not enough. It requires consistent accountability partners. This is why we have automated follow ups along with scheduled phone calls to follow up. Checking in after 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 months and a year keeps the focus front and center.

Adjustments

Goals that are not measurable tend to fizzle out.

So after recording and monitoring, if a goal was too vague, it's time for an adjustment.

Personally, I like to revisit my goals every 90 days, which allows for any adjustments as changes arise.  At a minimum, reviewing your objectives at least annually will allow you to refocus any goals that are growing stale.

How Did You Do?

The end of a year presents a great opportunity to look back and see where you stand. Seeing progress motivates you to continue progress.

Personally, this process starts during the year.  I keep a document in Evernote, that is called “Key Accomplishments.”  During my quarterly review, I take a moment to record all the things I can think of that were steps forward.

This list includes it all (small and big accomplishments).  From wakeboarding for the first time to reading a book I've wanted to read.  You'll be surprised how fulfilling it is to look back after a year and see all you've done.

For next year, I plan to set a few stretch goals (from Steve Sanduski's podcast "Between Now and Success").  Goals that I know I won't meet but will motivate me to try.  I'm betting I will be surprised by the progress.

So what goals will you focus on this year?

Links Mentioned in Podcast:

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