What Does Financial Success Mean to You?

What Does Financial Success Mean to You?

What Does Financial Success Mean to You? | John L. Smallwood

There are all kinds of potential answers to this question – I’ve heard many of them.  Depending on who you are and what your goals are, financial success is going to look different for you compared to the next person. Have you stopped to ask yourself what financial success really means to you?  It’s a critical step in any financial planning strategy; ultimately, you need to know what it is you want to achieve in order to achieve it.

For most people, financial success means having financial freedom in the years ahead. Having that financial freedom however, doesn’t come without keeping a continuous pulse on your finances. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn compares wealth to the four seasons. In spring, he says, you sow the seeds. In summer, you nurture the seeds. In fall, you reap the harvest. Then winter sets in—personal winters, market winters, political winters, tax winters. Financial freedom is knowing how you’re going to weather those winters, short or long.

Financial freedom is being in control of your wealth and having a realistic understanding of what your wealth can do—and what it can’t do. It’s about growing your wealth, income, free time, contribution to your market, contribution to society as a whole, and it’s about you—growing as a person.

A Roadmap to Success

When we take any kind of significant trip toward a destination, a good amount of planning is required as well as a detailed roadmap to help ensure we’ll make it to the final destination successfully.  Achieving financial success and freedom is no different.  However, just because you have a plan doesn’t make it foolproof.  It requires adherence to the route, agreed upon checkpoints, and a focus on the end point.

Everything in your plan or roadmap is impacted by decisions you make every day. Most financial plans focus on a very narrow set of variables, but that kind of thinking can set a plan up for failure. Afterall, like a road trip, there may be detours or new stops along the way that require your attention.  True success comes from looking at the variables and the impact that changing one or more variables can have on a plan.

I learned from my father that creating a multi-faceted approach to a financial plan – and the products associated with it – helped clients reach their full financial potential more effectively than trying to create rigid and narrow solutions.  Together, we looked at how all the financial products could come together in a unique way to reach seven goals – all of which fit within the notion of financial success:

  1. Reduce taxes.
  2. Reduce risk.
  3. Reduce fees and costs.
  4. Increase your savings rate.
  5. Increase your retirement income.
  6. Put more benefits and protection around your wealth.
  7. Pass more money on to the family.

Unfortunately, more financial strategies than not do the exact opposite of these things.  When you focus on maximizing the efficiency of every dollar, you have a plan and roadmap that leads to a kind of financial success that offers not only freedom, but creates a legacy.

It Comes Down to the Day to Day

Financial success and financial freedom don’t come from buying one thing or doing one thing. It’s the accumulative financial decisions that are made every single day. If you set goals for savings, protections, lifestyle, business, and you hit all those goals, if you make well-thought-out changes to your plan, you’re going to get to your number – to your ideas of success. At the same time, don’t forget to enjoy life along the way.

When you work with the right advisor, there will be financial planning tools in place that will help you see where you are today and where you are headed. But that’s not enough.  You need to work together every year to see whether the decisions made last year are still working the way you want them to. Success won’t come when you hang onto decisions made ten years ago if they are no longer getting you where you want to be ten years from now.

The faster you and your team learn what needs to change, make those changes, and keep improving the plan, the sooner you are going to achieve your goals. Proper planning with the proper team will put you in a better position. You’ll experience reduced taxes, reduced risk, and reduced fees and costs. You’ll increase your savings rate and retirement income. You’ll have more benefits and protection around your wealth. And you’ll pass more to your family. If you want all those things for today and tomorrow, then we absolutely want to work with you.


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