"Singing In The New Year: An Encouragement to Face Your Financial Plan

edkerns |

At certain times of the week my wife and I often find ourselves working from home on the same days. Sometimes I take a break and pick up my guitar to play a song or two. Being the positive and affirming person she is, Jana often offers up an encouraging word from the other room.

Possibly having taken her compliments a little too much to heart, you can imagine my surprise when I recently opened her highly anticipated and ballyhooed birthday gift: SINGING LESSONS! Six group sessions, in fact.

I asked why she thought I needed singing lessons. As honest as she is kind, she said “I think you have something there, but you need some polish.” Quite frankly, I was annoyed and maybe even a little angry. I said I wasn’t going. This wasn’t a gift. This was an invitation to face one of my biggest fears.

It makes me wonder if someone might feel the same if they were given a financial plan for their birthday. Sure, you’ve been meaning to get this retirement stuff figured out, but you don’t want someone telling you they’ve made an appointment for you on Monday. Have all your paperwork together and be ready to talk about your financial life. Trust me, I get it.   

Ultimately, I agreed to go. It turns out, our group only has three people: Ellie, Cole, and yours truly. Ellie is in seventh grade. Cole is a junior in high school. Ellie could literally try out for The Voice someday. Cole, while I’m not sure if he’s got the moves of your average boy band member, he’s sure got the voice. And, well, then there’s me.

Here’s what’s happened so far. That first night was painful. I couldn’t remember the words to the country song I had to sing, so I tried another one. I couldn’t remember much of that either. We did weird vocal exercises to find our range and to warm up our voices. We took turns singing different ways through the alphabet, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and even “Itsy, Bitsy, Spider.” Even as I write, I can’t believe I’m doing this.

While this experience is well beyond my comfort zone, our instructor is great and very professional. She and her husband converted this old house into a recording studio. Her little kids act as our audience. Cole has even given me tips on how to wear a hoodie. You’re supposed to TIE the strings instead of letting them hang down. Good to know.

So, what if facing your finances gives you a similar reaction to my having to sing in public? How bad can it be? Much like with my singing, it’s possible that you may just need to financially “polish things up” just a bit.

Maybe you’ve worked with a financial advisor in the past and the relationship has left you wanting. Or with the recent highs and lows of the market, you’ve begun to question the wisdom of your investment plan. Possibly you’ve been wanting to get organized financially, to consolidate all your accounts, and to make sure you’re on track as you save for the future. Maybe you’ve never created a financial plan or worked with a financial planner, but it’s something you often think about.

Here’s what I know: regardless of where you are financially, it can be tough take that first step. To move forward may seem as awkward and daunting. It may seem as dreadful as an impromptu a cappella performance. But, the truth is that I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while now, and I’m glad I faced my insecurities by taking these lessons.

By putting myself out there and getting an honest assessment from a professional singer and an audience, I can more accurately benchmark where I am and what I need to work on. It even seems to help my guitar playing, not to mention, my wife’s enjoyment of routine serenades.

My hunch is the same thing will happen for you when you move forward in getting a second opinion of your financial situation. You’ll know for sure if you’re on track financially or where and how you can make changes. Sing in the new year by facing your financial plan. It’s a tune your future self will be happy to hear.