Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Assessment Process – You and Your Money Part 1

The practice of yoga is integral to my life, physically the health benefits are well documented; it gives me a stronger, more flexible body as well as a way to relieve the stress of our daily lives which is good for the heart and mind.

It is also a way to connect with our inner self. The self that asks basic questions: what is my purpose, what am I connected to from the wider world and how do I achieve happiness?

Yoga is not competitive. It is about being present in your own life and living it the best way you can. It is NOT about who can stand the longest in tree pose, or bring their head closest to the mat.

Each class is like an assessment of where you are at that moment and the intention you set for your future.

To take care of yourself financially the process is not very different. It is about your life, where you are at the present moment and your goals for the future. Just as in yoga class where we assess our own strengths and vulnerabilities - in the same way you have to be honest with yourself about your financial situation.

Here are some things to think a about:

• What does money mean to you? How do you see the role of money in your life? Is it a tool or something more?
• How do you feel about money, are you a spender or a saver? Do you want a lot of money, just enough or somewhere in the middle?
• What are your values, what is important to you?
• Where do you see yourself in 10, 15, 20 years?
• How do you want to be remembered? To your children, your friends, your community?

These questions are more ephemeral. Not the typical way we speak about money, but they are key to how you will proceed with your financial plan.
Once you know where you are and how you feel, you can begin to decide where you want to go, decide what your goal is. Those decisions become the basis of your financial plan.

More concrete questions you may want to ask yourself are:

• What is my current financial situation?
• Am I just starting out in my career or am I somewhere in mid-career?
• Am I single? Have a partner? Children?
• Do I have savings? How much?
• What are my options to create more income if I want or need to?
• What is it I need to learn about my finances to move forward?
• What are my expenditures? What is fixed and what is discretionary
• How do I spend my money?

This is a big job. You need to do what we do in yoga class, set an intention for yourself and move toward it. So your first step is to set up an appointment with yourself or with your partner to answer these questions. Dig deep, breathe in, breathe out and focus. This is the hard work, but like all hard work it is incredibly rewarding. And just like in yoga, it is NOT a competition! Do not compare yourself to your neighbors, or your siblings or even your partner. Work from your own strengths. From your own heart’s desire. This is your life, make the most of it!

CONGRATULATIONS! This is the process of starting to take care of yourself.

Note: I really want to hear from you, but because I am a financial planner and what we say and the things we write are highly regulated, I may not be able to fully reply to your comments or questions. I have to submit my responses through my compliance department, so I plan to respond to broad inquiries and comments rather than personal questions. Email me at