The Berks-Mont News (

Making Dollars Out Of Sense: Get schooled in financial confidence

Monday, September 16, 2013

Itís back to life. Itís back to reality. I can see from my office seat that Main Street is crowded again. Our children are back in school; the University is back in session. Our vacations are through. Labor Day has come and gone which signifies that summer is officially over. Itís as though you can hear a collective sigh of disappointment, not just because cooler air and shorter days are right around the corner. But because summerís end means itís time again for assignments and responsibilities.
It is time to ďget schooledĒ again. That means math and science, reading and writing for our children. For the University, itís the term papers and group projects. For you? It is time to take financial inventory again.
Yes, you get homework too! If youíre anything like my clients, this is typically the time of year when youíre in the midst of figuring out the next round of college tuition. Or replenishing the savings spent on summer fun with the grandkids. Youíre reassessing your retirement savings from a summer full of market ups and downs. Itís not funÖbut absolutely necessary.
Like any other assignment, the more you know, the better you can apply that knowledge to the task at hand. And the more confident you are in that knowledge, the less stress you feel. So...get schooled. Get schooled in how to be rich in financial confidence.
Hereís the best part: financial confidence isnít difficult to acquire. Itís not going to take 4 years of studying, or a long 24-page term paper. Thatís because financial confidence is not documented intelligence like Doogie Howserís SAT score. It is not being one of only 629,000 in the top tax bracket of our tax code (which is now 39.6%)1. It is not necessarily being debt free, after all, 54% of people retire with a mortgage2. And itís not being investment savvy like Warren Buffet, because the facts of money and investing are only a part of financial confidence.
How then can you acquire the financial confidence necessary to reach your goals? Well, there is a large subjective element. How we feel about our finances is whatís most important. Do we feel we are making smart choices with the money we have? Do we know when we need help, and how to get that help? Are we assessing our progress along the way? Are we proud enough of our financial report cards to tack them to the refrigerator?
My clients tell me their confidence comes from having a plan. It comes from documenting their goals and objectives, and then efficiently allocating their resources in a meaningful way, prioritizing the essential expenses before lifestyle expenses, and planning for the certainty of uncertainty before planning their next vacation.
So get schooled. Find a good teacher! Chat with a Certified Financial Planner about how to be more efficient with your resources. Sit down and put pen to pad again on whatís most important to you and figure out what you need to do to put that plan in place. Make sure itís relevant and actionable. And then, make sure you assess yourself each quarter.
Thatís your homework.
Benjamin N. Haas, CFP, CRPC, US Wealth Management. 158 West Main St., Kutztown. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.