Happy Labor Day! Here we are at the unofficial end of summer. It’s time to get back on track, back on schedule, and back to our normal lives.
As you begin to dig back into your “real” life, here are some thoughts on wealth management. The concept of wealth management can apply to everyone. It is a mindset about effectively managing your money, with everything in the big picture.
Managing money — and eventually wealth — is not impossible, but it also can’t be done as an afterthought. Many people take an a la carte approach to their money, keeping separate their spending, investing, taxes, and estate-planning. They may even keep investments in separate parts of their brain, or not even know what they own. I have heard more than one person say, “I think I have a 401(k), but I’m not really sure what’s in it.”
And eventually there’s the inevitable question or sales pitch of a new investment product, or a friend who is all gung-ho about a new approach to whole life insurance or certain tax deductions. And we want to know — will that work for us?
No matter how much money you have, your wealth planning and management needs to be holistic. You can’t evaluate a new investment simply on its own merits because of the need to incorporate it into your personal bigger picture: your financial goals, time for investing, and asset allocation for diversification. And your investment portfolio alone is not even the whole picture when it comes to building wealth. So how do you start down this seemingly complicated path of holistic wealth building?
You start from where you are — how much do you have, what form is it in, what can you earn, what are your goals, and how much time do you have to reach those goals? Goals are necessary to guide the process — how much do you need to earn and save and by when? For a house? For your retirement? For your children or other legacy? For the donations you feel passionate about?
Your wealth accumulation and planning is also going to be impacted by how you protect it with tools like insurance and tax planning. If the biggest input to your wealth accumulation is your income, then maximizing your income is critical. Are you earning as much as you can in the job you have? Would another job be more enjoyable and lucrative, and what are the costs and benefits of attaining it?
When I teach girls about money, I teach them them a broad range of financial understanding. In class we talk about budgeting and financial planning, income and salary negotiations, saving and investing, and taxes and insurance. We focus on risk and value, and look at opportunity costs. We talk about the importance of experts, and self-education and engagement with money.
So the big picture of money is truly a big picture. It involves income and investment management, tax and insurance planning, and estate planning and philanthropy. When one piece falls out, the picture is incomplete, and your wealth and what you would like to share with others is at risk.
This may sound daunting to some — but it is a much more thorough and effective process than the a la carte approach. And you don’t have to do it alone — you can find the right expert for you.
A certain peace can come with the holistic approach because, all of a sudden, everything has a purpose, and a logic. Decisions about money can be made as part of a system that is clearly defined and understood. And most importantly, everything from your spending to investing to tax management, is working in concert to achieve what is most important now and in the future, for you and those you care about.