When I Saw The Light

I listen to my fair share of financial advisor podcasts and advice that I often hear repeated is “you can’t help those who don’t want to be helped.” Therefore, financial advisors should work on marketing towards those who want help, and not try to convert people that haven’t actually thought about hiring a financial advisor. I’m sure this advice has been repeated in a myriad of other professional services industries as well, as a way to focus marketing efforts.

I think this is appropriate advice for advisors, but at the same time people change their minds. I know I did when it came to money and personal finance. Therefore, I think it is possible to get people to take their personal finances more seriously, but it may take big life change to facilitate that interest. I’ll explain when I started to see the light.

I moved to NYC in 2014. One of the common pieces of “advice” I heard was “you better be careful, or you’ll go broke! It’s an expensive city!” This totally confused me. I knew NYC was a very high cost of living place, but coming from New England, it couldn’t be that much worse I thought. Additionally, most people I knew that had moved to NYC had sold their cars and rented apartments with roommates, and some received cost-of-living pay increases to make the move to the big city.

Whether this was good “advice” or not, it scared me into doing some research on personal finance. I hopped on Google and started searching ways to save money living in NYC. I had already sold my car and was living with roommates, so I realized I was doing the big ticket items correctly. After some more time down the personal finance rabbit hole, I discovered financial independence and realized there was even more I could do to get myself ahead in NYC. New York state is known for being a high tax state, but then when you add on the residence income tax that New York City tacks on, it gets even worse. This lead me to explore pre-tax retirement options which helped lower my tax burden and save more for retirement. I had seen the light.

The good news is, people are willing to make their personal finances a priority, the bad news is – sometimes it requires a big life change. Whether that’s moving to a more expensive location, or having a spouse lose their job, or finding yourself behind on bills.

I’m sure everyone has a relative or friend they wish would take their finances more seriously. Unfortunately, they probably don’t want your help. Not right now. It may take a bump in the road for them to realize they want to change how they handle their finances. When things are going well, there can be little incentive to make a change. The best you can do is live your best financial life and maybe one day they’ll ask for help, when they’re ready to see the light.

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