2021 January Update

by | Jan 22, 2021

(whispering) Happy 2021…?

As we tiptoe… mindfully… cautiously… into this new year, your Spring Plans team is reminded about the questions we heard repeatedly from journalists throughout last year:

How are people handling all this change? Is financial planning different, now that the world is so ambiguous?

Life and finances have definitely felt scarier and much more charged with emotion in the past year. And with sudden changes in “unprecedented” times, we can’t simply look back on history to guess what will happen next in any sector, industry, or community. It makes everyone feel overwhelmed and frightened.

Even us – yes! While we’ve been through a number of large economic changes in our careers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011… yup that many!), we were mostly working in large financial institutions when they happened. Running our own practice during this turbulent time had us questioning the impact on our business, and your long-term well being.

We’re happy to report that Spring Plans has survived, thrived, and learned from this experience – and we’re learning it with you.

One key lesson:

We have never – ever – known what was going to happen next.

Not ever. As investment prospectuses like to tell us, “past performance is not indicative of future performance”. And while we all know it intellectually, many still look to past performance in the hopes of gaining a sense of security about the future. Even though we know that no one can predict… well, anything… there’s a part of all of us that still tries to find security amidst all of these unknowns.

Many people come to financial planning for this exact reason: managing the unknown. While we certainly create projections based on assumptions, we absolutely cannot know the future. So why engage in the process of financial planning at all?

We’ve never thought that the point of financial planning was to feel 100% confident about what happens next. No, the point of the process (more than the plan), is to have the tools we need to make great decisions.

The world is ever-changing. In some years, that change comes at us like a firehose. We can’t ever control or predict what the world is going to do, but what we can always control is our own decisions, reactions, and behaviours.

Yes, the secret is out: financial planning isn’t about having a roadmap that itemizes in detail what the future will look like for you. It’s a system for understanding, and working with, your personal finances to design the life you want and make great decisions to get you there – no matter what the world happens to be doing.

2020 confirmed for us that our approach to financial planning – which is about designing your life (well-spent!) first and then using the financial and legal tools around us to make that happen – continues to be the right approach for you, our clients.

We told you all about that approach throughout 2019, in our series on design thinking. We demonstrated what that looks like in 2020, in our series of client stories. This year, in 2021, we’re introducing one of the key components of designing your life – your values.

Each month throughout the year, we will be discussing how to define your values (you can find ours here), and then apply them within your finances. Check out our introduction to the series this month, right here.

Of course, Sandi has some great reading for you in this month’s Top Reads. We know that trying to sift through all the noise to get to the really useful, juicy information you need is hard, so we’ve done it for you! Sandi’s curated list of reading this month is helping you reduce your stress and free up your brain.

Wishing you an easier year than last year…


Your Spring Plans Team

Spring Team



Spring in the News:

On CBC News: New Year, New Tax Rules, Sandi Martin shares her thoughts on the new tax rules and advice to prepare for the upcoming tax season.

Julia Chung gives her advice on how to be less stressed about your finances through The Globe and Mail: Schooled by the coronavirus pandemic, financial planners offer their No. 1 piece of advice for the year ahead.

Practice Notes:

At the end of January each year, we have a company retreat, to review the previous year, and talk about our plans for the next. For the past two years, we have all been congregating at Kathryn’s house in Port Moody but, for obvious pandemic reasons, that’s not in the cards. We’ve been working remotely since the very beginning, as our team is spread right across the country, and we have always found that the annual in-person retreat allowed us the opportunity to better connect with each other. Like everyone else though, we have to place in-person stuff on hold until it’s safe to do so – but our retreat will continue! The Spring team will be holding a digital retreat, some of us on deck for all of Jan 28-30 while others will be in and out at various times (because faces-in-computers for lengthy periods is HARD). Next year though… next year, it’s going to be in person, and ridiculous.

All Spring team home offices will be closed on Monday, February 15, in honour of Family Day/Heritage Day/Islander Day/Louis Riel Day and, for Julia, in honour of the Lunar New Year, which starts February 12 and continues for two solid weeks (but she does not get two weeks off). We’re celebrating the Year of the Ox and recommend you consider adding this celebration to your own schedule if you haven’t already. (P.S. It’s also Valentine’s Day that weekend – don’t forget to treat your sweetheart, or yourself!).

“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 downtime. 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.

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Julia Chung
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