Some things in life are on auto-pilot, like the question we tend to ask in most conversations, “what’s new with you,” where the answer is undoubtedly always,“same old, same old.” When we look back at the past week or month even, that response tends to be relatively true.
It’s when we go a little further back and compare ourselves against where we were 5 years ago that we realize the answer to that question becomes, “EVERYTHING! Everything has changed!! HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!.....And can I afford all of this?”
THE PERSONAL STORY
My own 5-year look back looks a little something like this:
In 2012, I owned a different home, was dating (my now husband Matt), and had no kids or thoughts of them. My income was different, and so were my personal life goals. I was really focused on living an active lifestyle and training for an upcoming half-marathon. Matt and I were in the midst of putting together our first joint balance sheet to see what home we could afford together.
At the time, there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I could have foreseen what life changes were ahead of me.
Since that past life ages ago, Matt and I bought our home together in 2013, got married in 2014 under our home’s oak trees, introduced Elliot to the world in 2015 with Emmett following close behind 15 months later in 2016. In between my 2 little ones arriving, I had a job and income change. Somewhere in there we also sold my beloved Camaro, bought a jeep (and then sold that lemon), and later bought my current vehicle. We still managed to run on occasion, but anything more than a 5K seemed like torture.
We were going a million miles a minute, spread thin between family events, new work schedules, maintenance our new (1932) home, and those 2 very demanding little baby boys. And running for enjoyment today, who has time for that now?! In all of this madness, we completely lost focus of our financial priorities. We hadn’t really stopped to talk about what our joint goals were together. Life was happening….and fast. We seemed to be more in survival-mode rather than goal-focused mode. And our basic little Excel Balance Sheet had dust on it from the last time it was updated.
In this crazy beautiful blessed life, Matt and I did the best we could to keep up with the dollars driving all of these life changes over the past few years. It mostly felt like we were closing our eyes and crossing our fingers that things would just work out. Does that sound familiar?
The point of sharing this story is to let you know that you’re not alone. As a financial advisor in the Millennial generation (bordering Gen X), I get it…because I’m there too. We’re in this crazy hectic stage of life where time is speeding up, more people need us than we know how to care for, and the thought of keeping up with a household balance sheet, much less a clean home, seems to be a joke. I’m telling you that it’s okay to not conquer your entire financial world today. That if you don’t have a handle on your household spending, you’re not alone. That if you don’t know if you’re on track for saving for retirement, you’re not too late. And that if you’re brave enough, DEBT doesn’t have to be this big scary word that we’re afraid to talk about.
OUR NEXT 5
I want to tackle this next phase of life, these next 5 years, and get our priorities back on track. And I don’t want to do it alone. I want to know that my friends, my clients, and our community are all fighting this good fight alongside me. Yes, it’s paralyzing to think of all the different aspects of your financial world. But it doesn’t all have to be done today!
Start small. Pick one thing. This year, I’ve been working on keeping our balance sheet updated monthly and remembering to chat with Matt about the changes that happened in the past 30 days, though it does help that I have the Simplifynance tools to do most of the heavy lifting. Check it out here if you haven’t. If monthly is too often for you, maybe quarterly is a better starting speed.
What’s your thing going to be? Is it putting together your balance sheet for the first time? Is it tightening up your living expenses so you can tackle the big scary monster debt? Or is it to be honest with yourself that time is too precious to attempt next steps alone, and the benefit of bringing in an advisor outweighs the awkwardness of sharing your personal finances with someone.
Whatever you decide, remember this: Everyone has their own life’s complexities, even financial advisors. It’s up to you to tackle them head on. And If you feel like you’re in survival mode, consider asking someone for help. We all need it now and again, especially at this stage of life.
Written by: Rachel Stewart