Financial planning can head off regrets

Financial planning depends on your answers to a lot of questions. Some of your responses will surprise you. So will the seriousness of some of the questions.

If you don’t know what a financial adviser might ask you, you’re not alone, according to recent surveys showing that most people have never engaged a professional planner to help with money. A common question that we get after telling people that we own our own financial planning firm: “What do you ask clients or prospects at the first meeting?”

When we first sit down with a new prospect, we try to determine what that person visualizes for his or her own future in terms of actual desires and not desires the person feels obliged to have. We consider the work of two insightful writers.

George Kinder, a veteran in the financial services industry, believes the following questions focus the discussion on your true underlying desires regarding money and planning.

Imagine you have all the money you will ever need now and in the future. What will you do with it? How will you live your life? What will change?

These questions cover the suppressed goals, eliminating our normal human tendency to believe that we lack enough money to fulfill our actual desires. We often create artificial constraints in our minds; eliminating our perceived lack of money from the discussion helps sharply bring into focus the future we want.

Once we clarify true desires, we conduct a realistic discussion concerning possibilities. Often, we adjust a plan so that what can at first seem like unreasonable desires become realities.

An article by palliative-care nurse Bronnie Ware discusses the five major regrets of people facing certain and imminent death. Ware spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives and recorded their dying epiphanies in the blog “Inspiration and Chai.” A couple of universal themes in the regrets:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. In this most common lament, people realize that their life is almost over and they never honored even half of their dreams and had to die realizing that this loss was because of choices they did or didn’t make.

I wish that I had let myself be happier. Ware reveals how many of the dying do not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. “Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again,” she writes.

What’s your greatest regret so far and how will you set out to change and achieve your dreams before you die? Why wait until you face the inevitable end to live the life you wish?

Working with a financial coach helps you uncover and clarify true desires for your life and your loved ones’. This allows your financial coach to work with you to develop a plan to explore your possibilities. The real value of a financial advisor or coach: help you continue to focus on your real issues and work to help modify your behavior to fulfill your dreams.

Dan Crimmins is the co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management LLC in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.