2023 July Update

by | Jul 17, 2023

How do you become great at financial decision-making?

Conventional wisdom (the kind you’ll get from Google, financial news, or friends and family) typically includes:

  • Creating a budget (ugh)
  • Tracking income and spending (more ugh)
  • Filing your taxes (fun, right?)
  • Saving money in various accounts (yawn)
  • Knowing the difference between various investment types (but not knowing exactly what that means for you…)

If you’ve tried some or all of these and still don’t feel like you’re well-positioned to make great decisions, you might feel a little deflated. And if tracking numbers and filing documents isn’t your idea of a good time, you might feel drained whenever you think of your financial situation.

There’s a good reason for those feelings, and it’s not because you’re somehow bad at finance. It’s because taking these actions and gathering all this data didn’t actually help you make great decisions.

Not yet.

Decision-making is tough, and because of that, it is studied at universities around the world. The people who study this are not – as some might expect – Commerce and Business experts. They’re psychology experts, because great decision-making is a cognitive process, not a math process. While great decisions benefit from logic and calculations, the point of each decision is entirely human, emotional, and psychological.

When we leave the human side out of decision making and jump straight into data, we lose the plot. We seek information, but we don’t know how to apply it. We seek formulas and perform calculations, but we don’t really know what we’re solving for.

So, how do we tie together emotional, psychological, and human concerns with the rational and logical use of information?

At Spring, we like to start, as Simon Sinek likes to say, with why. Simon talks about this from the perspective of business leadership, and the same approach can be applied to your personal decisions. Your WHY matters. “Why” is the start of all the questions we need to ask ourselves to understand what information we actually need before we can get to finding the data that will inform our decisions.

Here are a few questions we invite you to ponder while you’re out and about enjoying the summer, relaxing in some of your favourite locations, and allowing your brain the time for open contemplation:

  • Why do you live where you live? What do you like about it? What would make it even better?
  • Why do you engage in the activities you do, whether they’re economic activities like jobs and businesses, leisure activities, hobbies, or day-to-day chores? What are you achieving with these?
  • Why do you like hanging out with specific people? What is great about your social interactions? What could make them better?
  • Why is a deadline such as children’s graduation, your retirement, or another key date important to you? (Great book recommendation here about how useful deadlines can be!)
  • What makes you feel fulfilled and engaged with life? (Another great book here) Once you have a sense of that it’s useful to also find out… why these things make you feel fulfilled and engaged. That often leads to a deeper understanding of our own personal value systems, something we spent a lot of time talking about in 2021.

When we have a greater understanding about ourselves, and what is important to us, we have the very first building block of great decision making. We have our “why”.

Your why might be the same as someone you know or vastly different. Your why might be REALLY BIG. Your why might be pretty small. It might be simple, or it might be complex. What’s important is that it is YOUR why.

Spend some time thinking about it in the next month. Even if you have determined it in the past, have a little check in with yourself. Is it the same why? Has it changed? Has it become more nuanced?

In August, we’ll talk about what you do with it.


Spring Team



Practice Notes:

Our holidays start on Saturday July 22nd, and we will be returning to the office on Monday August 14th. We’ve booked the entire day to get caught up again! We hope you have amazing summer plans as well.

“Free” Fridays remain booked permanently in our calendars. These days are free to us at Spring in the sense that they are our opportunity to work on becoming better planners, whether through collaboration and discussion, education, research, or even a little down time. It’s been a regular practice since the summer of 2017, and we will continue to set aside the time to become better versions of ourselves every week. Even 1% better is solidly worth it, because we know that will be reflected in the work we do for you.


Incapacity Planning Webinar September 21, 2023: 10 am Pacific
Julia will be sharing the stage (or screen?) with Rose Shawlee of Boughton Law and Sue Talbot of Genus Capital for a conversation about incapacity planning. This is a webinar for people of all ages and all walks of life, as incapacity can impact us, either in ourselves or our family members, at any time. Save September 21 at 10 am Pacific in your calendar, and look for the registration link in the next newsletter!


Spring in the News:

Please check out our media page here for videos, podcasts, interviews and more.


Planning News Digest:

  • Why Having Everything is Never Enough – Julia’s co-host at the Family Enterprise Canada Symposium, Steve Legler, spoke with renowned psychotherapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, about his book “Fragile Power”. High achievers can feel as though they’ve still not achieved enough… and Dr. Hokemeyer explains the emotions behind this phenomenon. Watch the full podcast here.
  • Financial scams are evolving thanks to AI – Financial scams are common, and thanks to AI, they’re changing. Recently, Julia’s father was contacted by a scammer claiming to be Julia, asking for money. Technology is making it increasingly difficult to determine what is and is not a scam. Our friend Preet Banerjee has some great tips on how to protect yourself – and don’t worry, Julia’s dad didn’t buy it. Read three tips on protecting yourself here.
  • RRIF withdrawal rules for retirees need updating – Our friend Jason Heath discusses the complexity of withdrawing from your RRIF, and advocates for a change to the rules. Read the full article here.


Feature from the Archives:

We’re talking about our “why” and how it connects with your “why”. –  At Spring Plans, we found our bright moments when we talked with you. We found it fascinating how many people were really, really rethinking their lives, their jobs, and their goals for the future. It seems there’s nothing quite like a pandemic to force you to laser-focus on what’s going to give you what you want out of this life.


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Julia Chung