Last week, I was a presenter at Career Day at my children’s school, and I talked to 5th and 6th graders about being a financial planner.
I started by asking the students what they would like to spend their money on when they grow up. Many answers were similar to what my clients tell me — a house, a sports car, and a big vacation. However, one girl said she wants a pet lion!
We then discussed things they can control when it comes to money. Kids can earn extra cash by taking on jobs such as shoveling snow at a neighbor's house. They could decide how much of their allowance to spend and how much to save. But I also mentioned that some things about money were out of their control. Maybe their parents had money invested in a college savings plan for them — and day to day the value might go up or down as the stock market fluctuates.
I explained that as a financial planner for people like their parents, I also look at things that can be controlled. Their parents might decide how long to work until they retire, or whether they want to live in a big house with big costs, or a smaller house with lower costs. Planning also considers things out of their control, such as investment returns.
Their parents probably think a lot about money, and as a planner I help them answer questions such as whether they can maintain their lifestyle after retirement, or if they can afford major expenses such as college tuition or annual vacations.
Parents that try to answer these questions on their own sometimes get stressed out or overwhelmed. Anxiety about money can cause them to make poor decisions or just avoid the issue. One of the things I love about my job, I explained, is that when I talk to my clients about their financial plans, I can see them relax and I can feel the weight being lifted off their shoulders. Having a personalized plan in place gives them peace of mind and helps them make informed decisions.
I told the students that my favorite part of being a financial planner is helping people. I love mapping out their unique financial situation and helping them find ways to reach their personal goals, such as sending their kids to college, and having a comfortable retirement. Maybe even a vacation home.
I might have to talk them out of keeping a pet lion, though.
Terri Velgara, CFP®