A Week in the Life of Sandi
Monday, March 26
My alarm goes off, and I head downstairs for the best part of the day (the quiet part with hot coffee and no random Marvel movie questions because my son — and everyone else — is still asleep). I don’t often get up this early anymore, but I have two proposals to write for prospective clients and know I’m going to have a hard time focusing on writing them well between all of the meetings I have today. I spend about twenty minutes reading and then get down to business.
Lucy, my six year old, finds her way downstairs and wants to cuddle in my chair and read stories for a bit. How can I say no?
I add a few more details to my Weekly Success Planner, the document Julia and I use to share our successes over the past week, update the progress we’ve made on our goals for the quarter, and sketch out what’s happening for us in the coming week. While I’m in there, I post it to our Spring Slack for the rest of the team to review, and add my notes to similar documents we use with the entire Spring team and the Financial Planning Forum.
Upstairs for a shower, downstairs for breakfast, and all over creation (multiple times) to find library books, agendas, sweaters, and spiderman legos, and get the kids bundled up in appropriate outside gear for whatever combination of early spring weather they’re going to be outside in (Mittens? Running shoes? Winter boots with plastic bags inside them? I don’t even know anymore.)
Back from a walk with my Mom a half hour before my first call of the day (full disclosure, I thought it started at ten because I’m easily confused by calendars and that’s why we have Lindsay), I start making notes for a six month plan update meeting later in the day.
Discovery call with a prospective client. I take loads of notes so I can write her proposal letter later in the week.
Our weekly all-hands meeting for Spring. We spend no more than fifteen minutes updating each other on what worked and didn’t work last week, three crucial results for this week, and what our workload/stress meter is reading. There are a lot of greens on the board, which means almost everyone is feeling good about the amount of work they have to accomplish.
More prep time for my next client meeting. I grab some tuna salad I made yesterday and crackers to snack on since I might not have time for lunch.
Six month client update meeting. This is a client who had quite a few things on his personal and corporate action list, so we run through his progress on each and agree to reconnect once his tax return is filed.
Turns out I do have time for lunch! I sit down with hot coffee and my current book, Snuff by Terry Pratchett. I’ve been re-reading them in order and am sad to be almost done with Discworld again.
Prep time for another six month update meeting. This client has been faithfully updating the spreadsheet we share, so I’m up to speed really quickly.
Another discovery meeting with a potential client.
Seth and the kids are walking in the door just as I finish up my call. Oscar yells “hello!” so loudly that I can hear it in my office with the door closed, so it must have been a good day. Seth and I work away in the kitchen getting ready for supper (let’s be honest: he gets ready for supper and I empty the dishwasher and get coffee ready for the next morning).
Six month client update meeting. He’s sped through the action list we created as part of his financial plan, and only has a few questions about rebalancing his accounts, so we’re done quickly. We agree to touch base again once he finds out some key information from his lawyer that will affect next year’s plan.
Supper with the family and a glass of wine with Seth while the kids talk about their day.
Plan presentation meeting with recently retired clients. This is the second plan I’ve done for these clients in three years, and it goes really well until we both realize I inserted a cash flow table from the wrong scenario into their report. I promise to fix it tomorrow and we schedule a second meeting to discuss it for Thursday.
I join our monthly Financial Planning Forum call three minutes late, which throws me off. There’s already a great discussion going on about one of our members’ new financial planning program that’s in beta right now, and we use most of the hour talking about the data-gathering process and how to make it easier for clients, administrators, paraplanners, and ourselves.
It’s been a long day, and Seth isn’t feeling great, but neither of us can resist watching the season five premiere of Silicon Valley.
Bed. Thank goodness.
Tuesday, March 27
My alarm goes off at a more normal time for me when I don’t have urgent work to finish up, and I head downstairs for hot coffee and to read my way through the articles and blog posts that might make my Monthly Great Reads. I share a few things, but nothing stands out enough to add to the list.
Lucy’s up first again, and we read a few of her favourite story books before anyone else gets up. Seth is going with Norah on a school trip this morning, and I’m heading to Barrie to work for the day with one of my best friends, so there’s a bit of a line up for the shower.
Breakfast is cleaned up, and Seth is going to walk the kids to school this morning, so I pack up my computer and jump in the van to head to the Barrie Public Library.
I’m fifteen minutes away from the library and the phone rings. It’s school, and Oscar’s hit his head pretty hard in the playground. Usually Seth is the guy on call for this kind of thing, but he’s on that field trip, so I turn the van around and head back home. I get to listen to a new fintech podcast and re-listen to our Because Money episode on Caring for Aging Parents, which is turning out to be my favourite episode of all time, so the hour and a half there and back isn’t a complete waste.
With Oscar settled in at home (looks like it might be a concussion, so we’ve got an appointment booked with the Nurse Practitioner in the afternoon) I get to work on correcting the report from last night’s client meeting.
Lunch with Oscar. It’s nice to have some time alone together, although I’m still a little worried about his head. He manages to ask roughly four million questions about The Legend of Zelda in thirty minutes, so he’s probably fine.
Updates to a cash flow and debt repayment plan for clients I’ve been working with off and on for a few years. I think it’s ready to go, given their new net income and balances, but I want to review it one last time before I send it.
At the Nurse Practitioner’s office. Oscar doesn’t have a concussion. Hooray! Lollipops all around.
Back in front of the computer, I wrap up the last of the new plan explanation and send it off, and then make a few changes to the book review post that’s due to Jiveney today. Julia made some good points, and I’m happy with the latest draft.
Seth and the girls are home, so I turn on my headphones to some random ambient noise channel and start answering the emails that have piled up so far today. There’s a long one with some new information for a current client, a few updates for a client who’s just got his homework in and is ready for Lindsay to book prep time for the paraplanner assigned to the file, an email introducing Kathryn to a prospective client of mine who sounds like a better fit for her cash flow planning program, a quick review of a draft email one of our associate planners is going to send to a client, plus a whole raft of follow up emails to prospective clients I’ve talked to over the past few weeks.
Supper. Seth made baked potatoes with broccoli. Oscar begs for half of mine like he’s starving.
The kids are playing some kind of strange game with rules only they can understand, and Seth still isn’t feeling great and is resting on the couch, so I sit down to start writing this post. Thank goodness we started tracking our hours at Spring, because I can barely remember this morning…let alone yesterday.
Have tucked the kids in bed just in time for my last call of the day, another prospective client meeting, which goes really well. I’m looking forward to writing this proposal, although I just realized that my normal proposal writing block falls on a holiday this week, so if I don’t write them on Thursday they won’t go out until next Wednesday. Ugh.
The meeting wraps up a little earlier than I had booked it for, so I tell myself I’m going to put on my PJs and go downstairs…right after I update my Positive Focus for next week…and answer one last email…and reorder a few tasks scheduled for Thursday in my calendar…
Done for the night. Mix up a gin & tonic with Seth and mean to read for a bit before bed, since it’s No TV Tuesday (like Taco Tuesday, but –alas!– fewer tacos)…but we got halfway through my favourite Doctor Who episode¹ last night so we cheat and finish it up.
¹ “Silence in the Library,” if you’re wondering
Wednesday, March 28
A slow start this morning, but I manage to get about twenty minutes of reading in before Lucy turns up with an armful of books to read. There’s a great article from Jonathan Guyton about retirement planning in my feed, and I share it with an awkward sports metaphor before jumping in to Wild and Over in the Meadow.
A slow start to work (I’m sensing a theme here), since I had to stop in at the school office to make sure Oscar doesn’t do anything likely to result in another head injury…today, anyway. Today’s project is a Foundation Report for new clients who hope to retire in two years. I review my notes from our Discovery Meeting a month ago, along with the notes our paraplanner Kate left me when she put the file together last week.
I’m halfway through the portfolio review when I realize I need to get in touch with Doug Runchey if I want to calculate my client’s CPP benefit. I quickly scrub the Statement of Contributions to get rid of any personal information and send it to Doug, along with the retirement and benefit claim date scenarios I’d like him to calculate.
I manage to join our last Financial Planning Forum call for March on time, and we have a rousing discussion about family planning after one of our members brings up a planning scenario he’s working on. I fully nerd out over how fun it is to talk shop with a group of smart, engaged planners.
Our call goes a little late after we get on the topic of networking with other professionals and how hard it can be. Once we hang up, I realize that I didn’t have lunch yet, so I eat some crackers and cream cheese while I wait for a fresh pot of coffee. That’s totally lunch, right? Right.
Back at my Foundation Report. I spend a good hour and a half exercising stringent scenario control, since the lesson on what happens when I don’t is just a little too fresh to be comfortable. I get through their current cash flow, estimate their necessary and discretionary expenses in retirement, compile their asset allocation from the Morningstar XRay data, start developing their retirement timeline, and draft most of the clarifying questions I want to ask in our meeting before I start losing focus. By then the kids have walked in the door, so I take a break to give them all a squeeze and start fielding Zelda questions again.
I’ve been pecking away at a few more details on the Foundation Report, but trying to focus is a losing battle and I finally give up, just in time for supper.
It’s back on the phone with my clients from Monday night. We go through their corrected report — thankfully I didn’t screw anything else up, sheesh — and finish up after a good two hours. I start sneezing and coughing halfway through…so, great.
Doctor Who and bed with a box of tissue. Oh, and a bit of bourbon.
Thursday, March 29
Feeling fine (because mothers don’t get to be sick for more than 12 hours at a time), I get to work on the Foundation Report while my brain is as fresh as it’s going to be today. I work steadily until 7, when Oscar springs out of bed and immediately starts quizzing me about who my favourite character in Zelda is. (Isn’t there just a little green guy in Zelda?) I evade his questions by aggressively reading books at him.
I send two invitation emails to planners who are thinking of joining the Financial Planning Forum. They’re both at really interesting stages in their respective careers and I hope this is the right time for them to join. Right away one planner calls me to talk a little more about the Forum, and we have a good chat about what she’s working on and what’s important to her right now.
Back to my client work. I’ve received Doug’s CPP calculations, so I start constructing the two retirement date scenarios I’m going to present in our meeting on Monday. There are still a few key pieces of data that I’ll need from the clients, but I’m feeling really good about the way this plan is shaping up and excited to talk about it with them.
Uh, I was so focused on the plan that I forgot Seth wasn’t going to be home to pick the kids up from school and I was supposed to do it. I’m alerted to this fact when Norah walks in the door crying because she didn’t know where we were. We rush across the street to school and I gather up Oscar and Lucy and bring them home. I mean, I knew I was absent-minded, but this takes the cake. Cake, hmmm. I think I forgot to eat today too.
Seth is back, so there’s an adult in the house again. I retreat to my chair and start writing up the proposals from my Discovery calls on Monday and Tuesday.
Late supper, kids in bed quickly. I’m feeling the effects of all that focusing and my brain is tired.
I spend a few minutes finishing one more proposal letter, and then get into my PJs and start updating this post, which is – I fear – novel-length and interesting only to my mother…maybe…if she was really bored.
B-E-D. So much bed. Maximum bed.
Friday, March 29
It’s a holiday, and since I’ve not historically been great at taking time off, I try really hard today. Without the benefit of my time tracker, it’s hard to know precisely what I did when, which I’ll count as a win for vacationing. There’s definitely some sleeping in, a late breakfast, a round of Legends of Zelda and a walk in here somewhere.