What does Good Life Wealth Management stand for? Financial Planning is both an Art and Science, and while we dutifully toil on numbers, it is all in service to loftier goals and ambitions. Investment strategy is the one of the outcomes of our Financial Planning process, but it is certainly not the most important part.
We want to begin with an understanding and appreciation of three things in your life: Gifts, Rights, and Duties. When these are clear in your mind, your relationship with money has purpose.
Gifts certainly include inherited wealth, but we should all recognize how fortunate we truly are to be alive in 2017. I live in a vibrant city in the fastest growing state in the most prosperous country in the world. I was blessed to be born in a good zip code and attend great schools with the support and love of a wonderful family.
I attended two private universities, institutions which did not just spring from the ground, but were gifts to the future from people who were incredibly generous, insightful, and industrious. And some 175 years later, many thousands have benefited from those university founders.
Today, we have the gift of modern medicine, technology, cars, and the internet. And our wealth is invariably derived from all these gifts. It may still take a lot of our own blood, sweat, and tears, but no one in America is 100 percent self-made.
Rights include our constitutional protections of life, liberty, and private property. The ability to achieve financial freedom is an impossible dream – still – in many parts of the world. And while it is easy for me as a white male to take these rights for granted, for many other Americans, those rights did not exist in the not so distant past.
Duty is a recognition of our moral obligations. We have a duty to protect and provide for our spouse, children, and family. We have a duty to our self to plan for retirement and a secure future. We have a duty, I think, to leave the world a better place, and to help the next generation, just as our predecessors built schools and industries and fought for the rights which we enjoy today.
My vision of financial planning does not begin with choosing the “right” mutual fund or ETF. It is rather a holistic strategy to create a roadmap to your goals, as determined by your Gifts, Rights, and Duties.
– If we are to value our money, we must begin with the humility to recognize that most of our success is a gift. We won the life lottery and that 90% of who we are was luck and 10% was through our efforts. (Even intelligence, good health, and a strong work ethic are gifts, not something we earned!)
– We should not take our rights for granted. While there are fundamental rights, financial planning is to make sure you navigate your other smaller rights, such as to tax deductions, a 401(k), a Roth IRA, or Estate Plan. We want to make sure our clients take advantage of the benefits which are available to them.
– Duty to others means that we can take care of ourselves first and foremost. But it also means that we have prepared for the unexpected. That’s why I am perplexed by young families who want my help with investments, but want to skip over estate planning, college funding, or life insurance. That’s not fulfilling your duty as a parent and spouse.
There are two types of happiness: pleasure and fulfillment. Pleasure is easy: it is going to the beach and doing nothing, enjoying a glass of wine, or celebrating with friends. It is basically hedonistic. While we all need to rest and recharge from time to time, many retirees become bored after three months of golfing every day. Pleasure is not the highest form of satisfaction.
Fulfillment is having a purpose and making a difference. In Maslov’s hierarchy of needs, the highest need is achieving self-actualization, or realizing your full potential. The Good Life, is not about seeking pleasure, but finding fulfillment and purpose. While our financial planning software can crunch the numbers, our conversations are really about How do we use our gifts? What are our rights? How can we best fulfill our duty to others and make a difference? If that is the starting point for our relationship with money, we can have a more meaningful perspective on our goals, values, and impact on the world.