A financial advisor’s approach to personal goal setting

Every new year brings a great opportunity for a fresh start. For some, that means self-reflecting, committing to new resolutions, or even sharpening your skillsets.

Financial professionals should also take this time of year to audit their self-improvement strategies and align them to their personal and professional mission and vision statements. By identifying personal impact goals, advisors can create a lasting impression for this year and beyond.

To do this, start by defining three metric goals that support and directly contribute to your personal impact goals. Let me share one of my 2020 personal impact goals: Optimize our family experiences.

1. College preparation for a special-needs child

My son is very smart and excels academically, but his Asperger’s has led him to struggle with social development. He will be a junior in high school next year and is getting closer to adulthood. My husband and I want to help facilitate his independence as he approaches high school graduation, but we don’t know what college options will be best for him just yet. So we have to plan for both college preparedness and financial readiness.

We opened a 529 college savings account for him when he was younger, but not knowing where he is going to go to school has made it difficult knowing how much money to put in. This is a common problem for clients as well. Since we are not experts on the scholarships and opportunities that may exist for him, we have partnered with a consultant to assist us in that area of college readiness – like a college coach. This college coach will help us to optimize the financial opportunities that may be available to our son so we can leverage what we have saved in an efficient manner.

2. Focus on low-cost family fun

I am happy that my kids are paying more attention to how we live our lives and how we spend money. I want to ensure that my kids know the value of hard work and that life can be enjoyed without a lot of financial expenses. I find quality time with friends and family to be more important than the money we spend on them.

To streamline our social activity budget this year, we plan to sit down and list out what each person would like to do as a family and pick one activity per month that provides us more fulfillment in life with less cost. We want to base the decision on different criteria: fun, life experience, educational value, giving back to others, celebrating each other, or trying something new. This way we can build a variety of activities that is representative of the entire family.

3. Prepare to be a ‘sandwich family’

My children are old enough now to be somewhat independent, yet still need us to provide their healthcare and housing. We also have parents who are starting to need additional care as well, making us part of ‘the sandwich generation’ – taking care of parents and children simultaneously.

While we know that we cannot take care of our parents full-time, we are researching which assistance options are available within our community. We are identifying any home modifications and long-term care concerns that need to be addressed – an issue I am familiar with from my client interactions. By asking the right questions in advance, we can identify the challenges, handle the expenses over time, and prepare to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of our parents.

These goals may not be flashy, but we are real-world people with real-world issues just like my clients. We still want many of the same fundamental financial goals that many clients have, such as investing more, saving more, paying down debt and preparing for retirement. However, I encourage families and planners to take it to the next level by figuring out why and how your money can positively impact your family life and your clients’ families.

Aligning my financial goals with an impact outcome is more meaningful for me because it enables me to act authentically based on my value system. Cheers to a new year and a new decade!

Myra Slaybaugh, MSM, CFP®
President at Phoenix Wealth Partners

Just as a phoenix rises from the ashes and is reborn into a beautiful, powerful hero, we help our clients advance from the complexities of financial planning and become empowered, educated investors. We are passionate about serving individuals and families who care about the world around them and are looking to make a difference with their portfolios. We serve as much more than financial advisors — we serve as your advocate, educator, and friend. Myra Slaybaugh is an Advisory Representative offering investments and advisory services through Lincoln Financial Securities, Member SIPC. Phoenix Wealth Partners is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Securities.