Ep # 33: How We Help You Get Unstuck
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Benjamin Haas 00:02
Hi everyone and welcome to A/B Conversations where we will help you CFP your way out of it. A podcast where you get into the minds of a couple Certified Financial Planners on how we think and feel about everyday financial planning questions and what should really matter most to you. A healthier financial life starts...now! And we're back. How are you doing, Adam?
Adam Werner 00:31
Great, how are you?
Benjamin Haas 00:32
Excellent. Podcast world, we're back at it with, I think a little bit of a unique, unexpected topic today. So much of our work and what we're trying to share through this podcast are like financial planning tips and tricks. How do we help people get from A to B? How about we talk about the stuff that doesn't work or the hurdles that people come up against throughout this process that can either be really discouraging, maybe it's stuff that just gets them in a rut and we need to help them get unstuck. My mind's going to, alright, some of our themes have been around 2020 but really, this is just life. We can set a plan, we can say, here's how things are going to go and here's what we're going to do and then boom, you're kind of setback. So I don't know, let's talk about hurdles and how we overcome them.
Adam Werner 01:26
Yeah, so less a technical podcast on a specific topic or topics, not about strategies, but really just like the nitty gritty, how do we actually help somebody do the planning and implement some of the things. Just do the process.
Benjamin Haas 01:43
Yeah, and thank you for putting it in those terms. So not technical, let's just call it for what it is, some of this is just going to be the mental side of like, needing to get through life and clearly, we're talking about some biases to the finance side of things but they're going to be certain things that are out of your control. So, let's just put those there, you can't control this, that stinks but then let's adjust. There are going to be certain things we want to help people understand. Well, you can influence this, you're playing a role so let's get through that. Then there's going to be the stuff that is just again, it's a mental wall, that's why you have us. So, I don't know, let's list a couple things where we would see somebody needing help getting unstuck.
Adam Werner 02:27
Benjamin Haas 02:30
You want to start?
Adam Werner 02:31
You go ahead. You start.
Benjamin Haas 02:35
Sometimes it's just the lack of organization.
Adam Werner 02:37
Hmm. Yeah, yeah. Maybe we haven't said on this podcast but we certainly have had the experience where people come to us with the plastic shopping bag filled with unopened mail and feeling guilty about that and our response is, that's okay. Just starting, I mean, I think that's with a lot of things, just starting the process is often a big hurdle in and of itself.
Benjamin Haas 03:08
Yeah, because it looks too daunting. Right away, the mental picture comes to me like, I'm literally talking about doing a puzzle with Lucas, my almost four-year-old, happy birthday tomorrow, Lucas. This puzzle looks daunting but when you organize it into here are the edge pieces. Here are the pieces that are all the same color, like it becomes more manageable to tackle it and I think because there's just so many things that go into our financial life and often they're in so many different places or they're influenced by so many different professionals or different people around us, it gets daunting. If you're not organized, you don't know where you're at, you don't know what the next steps are, you're stuck.
Adam Werner 03:48
Yeah, and we certainly deal with the spectrum of, not necessarily like the extreme do it yourselfers but there's the huge chasm between someone who uses Excel spreadsheets to track everything themselves and the people that just have the pile of unopened mail and we can kind of help everyone from both of those sides and then everything in between, but it truly is okay to not feel like you have everything under control when it comes to this side of life.
Benjamin Haas 04:24
Well yeah and let's call it for what it is there too. Sometimes money management and being on top of these things, there's, I think it's fun, this is our career, this is what we do but most people, this isn't fun. So yeah, because you set it aside and you're not organized about it, I think that's probably the most common one and even, I don't want to make it sound like complete disorganization. There are people that are very organized but their finances aren't in one spot or they're not looking at it through one clear picture of how these things work together. Even that, so this is nuts and bolts, we can use technology, we can lean into programming, you know, we have systems that we follow to help people feel organized, simply because whatever the task is, whatever the decision is, if you're organized, things become clearer to you.
Adam Werner 05:18
Yes, that's fair.
Benjamin Haas 05:21
I think the next one ties into that and if you want to jump to one I can, I don't want to cut you off here.
Adam Werner 05:27
No, I was just going to give potentially a tip in that sense and maybe it's not really a tip but it's for those where we see that where it is just some lack of organization or just not feeling like they kind of have all of their ducks in a row. Outsourcing (us), hiring somebody to help you organize that information, you said it, we have the technology, we've been through this, like we have the systems in place, outsourcing it and having somebody help you do that is more than okay.
Benjamin Haas 06:04
Okay, so that's going to tie into a different one that was popping through my head. I think it's okay to try to help people understand the things that they can now automate in their lives, right, the amount of time and effort it takes to going into being organized or to following or tracking things. Or here we are saying, here's a whole financial plan that we took months to put together with you. We had hours upon hours of conversations, now here are the things you need to do. Even that can feel like it's just too much to take on, if there's parts of that that can be automated, the review is automated, the organization is automated. The savings is automated. It just makes it so much easier to stay on track.
Adam Werner 06:48
I think that's one of the biggest helps is the automation. Whether it's automating savings or automating the investing or just whatever, you can just set up to just happen without your input. As long as everything else is set up correctly on the front end, it may take a little bit more work initially but to then not have to really focus or have that be another item or task that you need to do on an ongoing basis. It just removes that hurdle completely once you do it that first time.
Benjamin Haas 07:25
Yeah and take that one step further automate the relationship. I mean, we do not hold meetings for the sake of just holding meetings. But we understand that if we let things go, just communication with people, if we let things go for too long and then you try to jump back into it, there's too much to get caught up on. There are too many things that may have changed where now it feels daunting again, when really the communication, the reflection, the How are we doing, the who's doing what, automate the relationship into a reasonable period of time where these check-ins can occur because that's what's going to keep you on track when things feel like they're moving as opposed to stop/start. How many times is there something you need to do and you get interrupted and now you go do that other thing. And now it takes you X amount of time just to get caught back up to where you were? I think that happens in our financial life all the time.
Adam Werner 08:21
Yeah, to the point where in thinking about, if you do have something set up, that is clearly repeatable and if it is automated to some degree, if you ever do need to make changes or adapt to different variables and situations, it's much easier to tweak something that's already existing than to your point, just starting over from scratch every time something changes.
Benjamin Haas 08:45
Yeah, and some of that, then is just maybe I'm saying the same thing but you almost have to carve out the time. You have to put something in your calendar, something in your day-to-day life, however you manage things to say, I know I need to do this so I'm going to put it on the calendar and this is non-negotiable. I need to do that.
Adam Werner 09:08
Yeah, I am a 100% religious user of the reminders app in my iPhone. If there's something that I need to remember or block out the time to do it. On the personal side of my life, everything lives in that reminders app or my calendar. Otherwise, it just falls by the wayside. There are too many other things going on in life, family, it just falls by the wayside.
Benjamin Haas 09:36
Yeah, and to that point, you almost have to set deadlines. I mean, how much it's human nature, how many of us get done everything we need to get done well ahead of when it needs to get done. Whether you're a procrastinator or not, there's no judgment here. My wife did it to me on Friday, you know, I've been circling around on making some sort of bigger purchase. I'm never good at it because I know I'm going to have like buyer's remorse the day after but I've been talking about it for like three weeks. She's like, by the time you come home on Friday, I need you to have your decision done, I don't want to talk about it anymore. I think we do this in life and we see it with clients, too. If it's some sort of open-ended thing then you're almost putting yourself in a bad spot where you're either making a decision with a lack of info. You are looking for too much info or too much education and you're just spinning your wheels, you're stuck.
Adam Werner 10:31
Yeah, that's another one where there's not a where, it's a decision that doesn't have that time bound nature to it. I in my head, I'm smiling when you're going through the scenario. We're like goldfish in that we can grow to the size of the bowl. So as much time as you have that deadline for a lot of people and I'm certainly guilty of this at times, you'll just, that's due on Friday, what day is it? Oh, it's Tuesday, I can worry about that on Thursday. It's very easy to just let things continue to pass by and that's one of those things that carving out that time, just setting it aside, making sure that you actually do get to it is one thing. But I think the other part of that is and I think you alluded to it, if it's our help, hopefully, if there's an important decision that needs to be made and it may not necessarily be time bound. Part of our job is to help give perspective, go through some of the tradeoffs, give the education because sometimes it's just a lack of understanding, like, if I choose this, you know, what's the domino effect? Hopefully we can give a lot of that information to at least start whittling down some options so that a decision can come at some point and actually have some confidence behind it. Where if you're just staring at a whole laundry list of different variables or different options in front of you, sometimes you just get paralyzed by the amount of choice and that's another reason why you just let it go until the last minute.
Benjamin Haas 12:05
People can put a lot of waiting to the fact that you're talking to two CFPs here. We've said this in different podcasts, we've gone through these things, it's our job to understand like, are these good decisions or are these potentially bad decisions. But the other half of our work is to help people understand, maybe you're making a bigger deal of this than it really is based on kind of what we understand. Or on the flip side, hey, you're not giving enough attention to this so when it comes to making decisions, we can also help and we want to help people get unstuck from either making a big deal out of a little deal, or making a little deal out of the big deal. I've got another one where I think we are seeing this more today than I think I've ever noticed it before. It's the internal biases that people have that I would say in the theme of getting stuck, they get stuck on something based on the way that they view it and not based on any other outside influence or education that may help direct them more towards what they should be focused on. Call that confirmation bias. How many people do we know that they do it with politics? We're not talking about politics. They do it with financial decisions. They only seek out the data that supports the preconceived notion or that decision that they feel like they've already made, when that's really probably leading them down a bad path.
Adam Werner 13:37
Yes, that's while I'll peel back the curtain. That's one of the frustrating parts of our experience as planners of trying to lay out, you know, all of the reasons why this decision makes the most sense for a person but they came to us with kind of their mind made up of here's what I want to do. And you give them all of the data points, you give them all of the tradeoffs, and you really kind of lead them down that path to here's what you should be doing. Then ultimately, it's well, but this is what I want to do so this is what I'm going to do because this is what I believe and at a certain point, all of the outside information in the world is not going to change that opinion.
Benjamin Haas 14:22
Adam Werner 14:24
There's nothing that we can do about that and that's where it really just comes down to being open to those different options and different ideas to be able to make a decision that does feel best fit for any one situation.
Benjamin Haas 14:40
So I mean, it comes down, how do we help with that? We have to find a good way to communicate and everybody's a little bit different but to help communicate and bring to light like, hey, here's what we're noticing about how you're approaching this and often it's not to be combative, right? We don't want to take somebody that has some sort of preconceived notion about risk and now force them into something that's risky, but that's not going to align. I think it's our job to kind of help them recognize that, hey, if this is the main thing that you said was really important to you, your biases are actually leading you off the path to what really matters to you. So you either need to recalibrate yourself or we need to dive deeper into is the thing that you told us mattered most, maybe that's not what matter most? It's just finding a way to have more communication to get you unstuck from some sort of bias or perspective that you have that's not good. And you've said it, what's the most dangerous line that somebody can give us when it comes to their finances?
Adam Werner 15:42
This is how I've always done it.
Benjamin Haas 15:45
Right, then what are you here for? If you like the hamster wheel, that's fine. But I think we're here to add perspective to give perspective.
Adam Werner 15:59
Benjamin Haas 16:01
And part of that's just being an accountability partner, right. I think if we are to summarize what getting unstuck is all about, it's having somebody that's going to help you get unstuck or notice when you're stuck.
Adam Werner 16:13
And that's hopefully the role that we can play. I feel like we've said this multiple times before that, it really does come down to for us, the planning process, that end result is here is our to do list. Here's all the action items that came out of all of these meetings, all of the analysis. Here's now the handful of steps that we have to implement. You're going to do this; we're going to do these things and here's where we're going to collaborate together. By the way, here's when we're going to at least give a deadline, right? A target date or we're going to try to get these things done by so that we actually do them. Then it's just having that ongoing relationship to hold us both accountable to that process and actually try to check those boxes.
Benjamin Haas 17:00
Yeah, because I don't want to make it sound like we're belittling the fact that people will get stuck. I mean, this is what happens in life and, look, we work with a lot of incredibly productive people that get really frustrated by being stuck. So part of this is just the empathy of going, hey, again, this stinks, if it's out of your control or if it's something you can influence but it's keeping them back on the path of like, okay, if we're stuck, here's what we need to do to get beyond that and give them the tools to kind of get there. And oftentimes, I mean, you tell me if you feel differently, oftentimes just having the conversation. Let's just talk it out. There's nothing more rewarding for us than I think somebody's just going - thank you. I just needed to talk that out. I just needed to feel like I could figure out why I was spinning my wheels.
Adam Werner 17:55
Yeah, we've often heard that at the end of conversations where we don't feel like we're reinventing the wheel or bringing any huge, you know, new information to the table. Oftentimes, it really is just, saying things out loud with another human being allows you to just put that weight off of your shoulders and now just move forward and sometimes it really is just that simple.
Benjamin Haas 18:27
Maybe that's a good theme for the podcast here. I don't know if this was really valuable. When we get out of your technical world, what are we providing value here, it's luck. If you're stuck, it's okay. This is natural. If it's organization, if it's an accountability partner, if it's you need some sort of automation, like whatever it is, you've got a bias. Talk it out, reach out, talk it out. We're here.
Adam Werner 18:52
It's our job.
Benjamin Haas 18:54
Thanks pal. We'll catch you for our podcasts next time. Hey everyone, Adam and I really appreciate you tuning in. Please note that the opinions we voiced in the show are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific recommendations for an individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be most appropriate for you. Consult with your attorney, your accountant and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to making any decisions or investing. Thanks for listening!
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