2023 September Update
It’s September! Throughout North America, the summer season is winding down and the autumn season is ramping up. For those who have children returning to school, are returning to school themselves, or are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, it’s the start of a new year.
In the fabulous book How to Change by Katy Milkman, one of the many strategies she discussed was using a “fresh start”, like September, to kick off a great new habit. Research indicates that a fresh start increases our motivation and our chances for great success (provided that fresh start doesn’t disrupt the progress we’ve already made). Assuming that Katy knows what she’s talking about, now is a great time to put some of your plans in motion.
What plans would those be?
Well, in July and August, we gave you questions to contemplate during moments when you might have had a bit of time to stretch your brain. July’s questions were all about exploring what things you like and beginning to define what they were. August’s questions were all about trying to find out what you like about those things, and discovering the underlying reasons – the WHY you find these things fulfilling, enjoyable, and worth achieving.
Now you have some answers about what and, hopefully, why. You’ve got a sketch of what living a great life might look like for you. It’s that great life, the one you want today and will tweak to make it even better as time goes on, that you are working towards.
Why would Spring, a financial planning firm, be getting into this mushy stuff? Why would we ask you these kinds of questions rather than questions about your financial goals, or the money and age numbers that so many finance folks focus on?
Well, because we listen. During a recent discussion, a Spring client articulated something we know to be true:
“I don’t have financial goals. I don’t care if there’s a certain amount of money at a certain age. I want to know I can live my life the way I want, and manage through unexpected changes.”
Most people don’t have financial goals. Most people have life goals, family goals, career goals. Most people can envision what achieving those goals looks and feels like. Financial planning helps us figure out how to get there… and there’s no one “right way” to do it.
We’re asked frequently what the “average” Canadian person needs to have in real dollars in order to retire. We frustrate journalists by never giving a specific answer. The truth is that there’s no such thing as an average person, Canadian or otherwise. People are not machines made out of math that fit into nice, neat boxes. People are ever-changing and fluid, and our finances need to adjust and change as we go.
That means, of course, that we need to pay attention. Paying attention is key to what Ellen Langer, the “mother of positive psychology”, calls mindfulness. Many people equate mindfulness with activities like meditation, but Langer says that while this practice is one of many tools that can help us achieve mindfulness, it’s not the only route.
Coming from decades of research, Langer’s message is that it’s wildly useful to actually notice. To avoid being mindless, simply going through the motions of life. To look around at what’s happening, internally and externally. To really think about what we are observing.
That’s what our July and August questions were about. We want you to notice what is – and is not – resonating in your life. To think about what might make it even better… what “your life, well spent” could really look like.
Financial planning is the box of tools we use to help you build that amazing life. It’s full of neat things like registered accounts, tax strategies, estate structures, and so much more. Some people use tools from each compartment of the tool box. Some use a handful of tools and leave entire compartments untouched. The right tool for the right job, as our construction friends like to say, means that before we pick up our tools, we need to understand the job really well.
That’s the most important part of the financial decision-making you’re doing and the strategies you want to implement: knowing what you’re creating. It’s the hardest part too. Throughout our many decades of working in personal finance, we know that the most difficult data to gather is not your tax returns, your corporate financials, or even that life insurance policy you started paying for 20 years ago. The most challenging part is knowing what you want, for the person you are today and leaving room for the person you will be tomorrow.
At Spring Plans, we are dedicated to supporting you through change and to adjusting your financial plans to meet the many versions of you that will exist throughout your life. Enjoy this next chapter, and remember…take notice.
PS Our crush on Ellen Langer is long-standing. She’s got a new book, called The Mindful Body, which we’ve added to our e-readers just this month!
We will be closed for Thanksgiving on Monday October 9th. Otherwise, we’ll be here all month!
“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.
Join Julia on September 21 at 10 am Pacific as she chats about what it really looks and feels like to be in that role of power of attorney, with Rose Shawlee of Boughton Law and Sue-May Talbot of Genus Capital. If you or someone you love has or may experience incapacity (hey! That’s all of us) this free webinar will help you put some thoughts about how to plan for it, and if you really want that job. Register here.
Spring in the News:
Julia had a conversation with Helen Burnett-Nichols about the increasing demand for financial planning professionals to manage increasingly intricate cross-border guidance. Read the full article here.
Please check out our media page here for videos, podcasts, interviews and more.
Planning News Digest:
- Frustrations When Claiming Foreign Tax Credits – This podcast by Moodys Private Client delves into the challenges faced by Canadian individual taxpayers when seeking foreign tax credits and explores whether these difficulties are inevitable. Listen to the full podcast here.
- 7 reasons why investing is completely unique – Investing is characterized by its unpredictability and counterintuitive nature, setting it apart from most other facets of our lives. Discover the seven fundamental factors that make investing such a distinct endeavor here.
- Climate Change and its impact on insurance – Following a summer marked by extensive wildfires, flooding, and drought in various regions of Canada, there’s a growing concern about the influence of climate change on the current and future costs of insurance. Read the full article here.
Feature from the Archives:
Money, Values & Family Business – “When it comes to dealing with money, it’s this super abstract thing…” Julia spoke with Purdeep Sangha earlier this year about demographic shifts, pandemics, and the importance of difficult conversations in family systems
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