financial planning

Iulian Ursu /

Some people just have a habit of having good habits.

I’ve known many men (and even more women) that fit that description. They just seem to have a habit of having good habits. And good stuff follows.

People like this make the most of their lives and are content with the results.

Financially speaking, they know how much is coming in the front door and that if the same (or more!) is going out the back door, there’s going to be a problem. Knowing this, they’re usually pretty good savers. I’m not surprised to see them save 15% to 20% of their income.

You and your agent needed to play a scrimmage game before the season started.

Every summer in the heat of August, football teams all over America endure the hellish ritual of August practice. The smell of fresh cut grass in 99 degree heat still makes me sick at my stomach due to the memories of endless football drills, running in full pads, hitting head to head and getting yelled while a coach yanked on my face mask (back in the day, we didn’t have all those rules about coaches having to treat players like human beings).

401(K) 2012 /

When you do a financial plan, where do you start?

Do you fund your retirement first or get out of debt? Is trying to save on taxes part of it? One marriage partner thinks you spend too much money on insurance, while the other worries that they are not sufficiently protected.

It can feel like you’re all over the map!

So back to the original question - where should we start?

My answer is to start with the most important thing – to you.

It is my contention that (1) you already have a financial plan, and (2) your plan is built around priorities.

GotCredit /

Did you get a tax refund this year?


Maybe you look forward to getting a tax refund every year. Maybe you pay off some credit cards with it, other times you take a little vacation, do a small home renovation project or make another large purchase.

It’s almost like a savings account, right? Or better, an annual bonus payment!

But then you have this know-it-alI friend at work that says you’re giving the government a free loan. Are they right?

Well, back when savings accounts were paying 5%, your friends had a point.

Youchao Wang /

I am sometimes approached by young people, often recent college graduates, who want to know if I have any financial tips for someone their age.

If you’re a young college graduate and you’re already thinking about how to be financially responsible, congratulations on separating yourself from the crowd by doing two things most people your age often don’t: seek advice and think ahead. / FLICKR.COM

“I’m insurance poor!”

Whenever someone raises the twin topics of insurance and affordability, a little red flag goes up in my little brain.

In 99% of the cases I see, the problem is not affordability, but effectiveness. Will the coverage you have actually DO what you want it to DO when the car wrecks, or the house burns? The question you should be asking is, “What coverage can our family afford NOT to have?”


Sep 12, 2018
Thomas Hawk /

Stop trying to aim at (and hit) a target you can’t see. Doing so usually results in harm to yourself or others.

Here’s a news flash: the future is really, really difficult to predict. For every economist pessimistic about the remainder of 2018, I can find you an optimist. But to be honest with you, I have no idea which one is going to be right about 2018. Or 2019.


In April 2000, the International Monetary Fund released a statement affirming that “the picture for global growth is a strong and quite positive one for the year 2000 and we believe beyond.”

Aim For the Sweet Spot

Sep 5, 2018
William Murphy / FLICRK.COM

“What really makes for a good financial plan?”

“What all I should try to plan for?”

“What do most people do?”

I get these sorts of questions from individual who come to see me for the first time.

What do most people do? Nothing.

Or they wait, saying they’ll do “something” later. Waiting allows you to do nothing, but with dignity.

ShinyPhotoScotland /

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?


You remember what Garrison Keillor used to say about the children of Lake Wobegon, who are “all above average.” Sociologists have tagged this “illusory superiority,” or the tendency we all have to overestimate our positive qualities. CBS News reported on a classic 1977 study in which 94 percent of professors rated themselves above average relative to their peers.

So, most people view themselves as positive, optimistic, capable people. If this is how you see yourself, you are…average (sorry).

Getting back to normal

Jul 25, 2018
Ren Kuo /

When are things going to get back to normal?

Funny, isn’t it - things are always getting back to normal. But they are rarely normal. What’s that all about?

In math, they call this reversion to the mean. A simpler way to express this might be “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”