By Vincent Barbera, CFP®, MSFS
After almost two decades in the financial services industry, I’ve come across many pieces of sound financial advice. You’ve probably heard some of them as well, like the importance of living within your means, managing risk, and creating an emergency fund. You would do well to follow any of those lessons, but if I could give just one piece of financial advice, it would be to stay in your lane.
We often hear this catchy phrase in relation to work or business. We are told to focus on what we are good at, choose a niche, and apply our unique skills and passion to our endeavors. When we get distracted by what others are doing or try to copy their formulas, we get tripped up. The truth is, it’s just as important to stay in your lane and stay focused on your long-term objectives in your financial life as it is in your work life. Here are a few ideas for how to create a financial life that is true to you.
1. Know Your “Why”
What do you want out of life? Some form of this vague question is found in every self-help book out there, but it gets at the heart of the matter. If you don’t cast a vision for your life, someone else’s vision will take over. Then you end up years down the road wondering why your life looks like it does.
Do you really want that fancy car you see in your neighbor’s driveway, or is that what you think is expected of you? Don’t just try to keep up with the Joneses, but identify exactly why money is important to you and then map out a wealth strategy accordingly.
How do you define your “why”? Start by asking yourself a few key questions. What motivates you? What do you love? What are you passionate about? What do you want life to look like when you are 50 or 80?
2. Apply Your “Why”
Generally speaking, we know what is good for us and what isn’t. We know it’s important to eat right, exercise, live within our means, and plan for the future. But just because we have the knowledge doesn’t mean we always follow through. Sometimes we skip the gym for a few weeks (or months), or we trade the home-cooked meal for fast food.
Why do we do this? Often, it’s because we don’t know how to apply our “why” to our daily habits or actions. Knowing your “why” tells you what you want, but stopping there doesn’t set you up for success. This is where you need to stay in your lane. In order to start taking steps toward your goals, whether that be a dream vacation or seeing a certain number in your bank account, you need to have a clear picture of your current life and financial situation. Do you have kids you want to send to college? Are you the sole income-earner in your home? How’s your debt load?
Your answers to these questions only apply to you. Your neighbor with the nice car has a completely different financial context; he makes his decisions based on his circumstances. You need to do the same.
3. Stay Focused On Your “Why”
Teach yourself to put blinders on as you pursue your goals so you don’t get distracted or discouraged along the way. That may mean ignoring media, such as TV, Instagram, or magazines. It’s easy to be swayed by the latest fads or spend your life trying to keep up or fit an image, but it’s not worth it.
Living according to your values and aligning your finances to your vision is a lifelong process, and basing your financial decisions on what everyone around you is doing is a surefire way to make unwise financial decisions and lose yourself in the process (not to mention develop high blood pressure).
So take a break from the constant media barrage and go read a good book instead.
What’s Your Lane?
The bottom line is to focus on the things you can control and take the steps to build the best life for you and your family. Don’t waste your life worrying about what other people are doing.
At Newbridge Wealth Management, we help you stay focused by acting as a nonjudgmental sounding board, advocate, and cheerleader. We use our process-driven approach to financial planning to help you clarify your “why” and apply it to your financial picture. We want you to work toward your desired lifestyle, and that’s why all of our financial plans are personalized to you, in whatever lane you are in! If that’s what you want, click here to access our online calendar and easily schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 610.727.3960 to schedule a meeting today!
Vincent R. Barbera, CFP®, MSFS is a managing partner and co-founder of Newbridge Wealth Management, a private financial counseling firm located in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Believing in a patient, disciplined approach to investment management that delivers value and peace of mind, he utilizes a process-driven approach to financial planning that provides comfort and clarity to his clients’ long-term goals. Along with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and business, he has a master’s degree in business and financial planning and Certified Financial Planner™ designation. Learn more by connecting with Vincent on LinkedIn, or send him questions at email@example.com.