How to Manage Your Finances? Cultivate Them Like a Pumpkin.
Fall is here and that means pumpkin everything from carving pumpkins to pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie, everywhere you turn you see pumpkin. Finances are the same way. The topic always seems to be looming in the background. That got us thinking about a question we receive often, “How do I manage my finances?”
In the spirit of the season, managing your finances is a lot like growing a pumpkin. Just like a pumpkin, finances need cultivation to see growth. It takes time and attention to reach your goals but, in the end, it’s worth it.
This three-point sermon will focus on the scary, the seed planting, and finally, the cultivation. Let’s jump in and see just how pumpkins and financial planning parallel one another.
Managing finances can sometimes get scary.
Whether we’re talking about Halloween or managing finances, things can sometimes get scary. Of course, when it comes to Halloween scary things are meant to be for our enjoyment or in jest. When it comes to managing finances, it means something a little different.
Managing finances during COVID-19 has not been easy for many people. You may have seen significant movements in the stock market over the last six months. There were huge negative movements in March of this year and since then, it’s almost been a V out when you think of it graphically. Now, we are entering election season among other factors that weigh in on the movements of the stock market.
So, what do you do if things get scary in your financial planning lives? Do you treat it like it’s Halloween and hope that it will go away in a little while? Maybe. In some cases, if you wait it out and endure it a little bit, you might get to the other side and things are status quo. But how do you determine that and decipher between things that are noise and trend lines?
Many of you experienced in your 401K, retirement plan, personal portfolio, real estate holdings, etc. the significant economic downturn we had in 2008-2009. Yes, that was an extreme situation, and you don’t see that many times in a generation. However, it is a good example of a trend line meaning there were things you could see before that time that simply looked non-sustainable. Not many people could see just how significant the downturn was going to be through 2008-2009 so not many of us could have planned for it. So, how do we decipher the noise from the trend lines?
It’s important to dig deeper and figure out if it’s a reactionary kind of thing or something that’s going to move with greater sustainability in either direction. When you talk about Halloween, it’s going to come and go. But when you talk about things from a trend standpoint, is it something that is more sustainable? When you look back on 2008-2009 it was frankly scary at times. There were things being discussed back then that had never been discussed before from an economic and financial standpoint. It became clear the trend line was going to be more than a reactionary kind of thing.
When trends happen, keep your financial goals in mind. Consult with your financial advisor, tax advisor, et. al. and bring a list of your financial questions so you can make good, healthy decisions.
Financial planning is like planting a pumpkin seed, a good plan can take some time to come together.
For those of you who are farmers, there is a growing season. The time that after you plant, fertilize and water, there is a measure of time before you start to see the fruits of your labor. It’s similar to the financial planning end of things.
If you have a financial planner or advisor and have been investing for a long time with a specific goal in mind, you understand this point. It’s unlikely that you can put two points on the calendar and think things are going to move in a straight line between those two points with regards to financial planning. It may happen that way, but not likely, especially in the short term. When managing your finances, you may have an expectation about how things will grow and mature over an extended period of time. Especially when you are looking at years or decades. Just like planting pumpkin seeds in a garden, it can take time for a good financial plan to come together.
Let’s reference 2008-2009 again simply because it’s extreme and most of you lived through it. If you would have stayed with an investment strategy, especially if the investment strategy was keeping with any of the indexes that are the most popular ones on the stock market, it could be true that you were able to recover a number of years later. And perhaps even get beyond where you were before the pullback.
Like growing a pumpkin, if you try to harvest the pumpkin too early you aren’t going to have a pumpkin of good size and it may not be orange. Same thing with a financial plan. It’s important to keep your financial goals in mind and understand if you are looking at an extended time frame. That doesn’t mean there is never a reason to make changes.
Just like planting pumpkins, if it doesn’t rain for a while then you need to provide water via a sprinkler system. The financial planning universe is similar in that it requires careful cultivation over time. You may need to adjust but only when necessary. Adjustments can be good but only when they are done prudently and for the right reasons. Don’t just react to some red arrows on a screen in one day. Consider not just the micro factors but macro factors as well.
Like a pumpkin patch, financial planning needs attention, weeding, watering, it needs cultivation.
Whether you’ve tried to grow a pot of flowers or plant the family farm, you know there is a lot of work that goes into it. You can’t just throw the seeds on the ground then show up three, four, five months later and everything is ready to go. Once you plant pumpkin seeds, for example, you need to make sure they are fertilized, watered, and cared for consistently.
Same thing with your financial plan. You need to give it attention and make choices that are important for your plan to mature in the best ways possible. When managing your finances, it’s always a good idea to periodically review your financial plan and financial goals to make sure they are still in line with where you currently are and want to be.
At North Main Financial one of the things we do when we’ve had a lot of growth in our client’s accounts is to take the cream off the top. In other words, we’ve had more growth than we’ve anticipated so we’re going to take some of those gains off the top. We may invest those gains into something that’s a little more conservative or something that isn’t linked as closely with those things that have appreciated very well.
This may not be the right strategy for everyone so, we recommend you reach out to your financial advisor to see what makes sense when it comes to managing your finances.
Hopefully, by now, you can see the parallels between cultivating a pumpkin and cultivating your financial plan.
When reviewing the three-point sermon remember, things are sometimes scary. Whether we are talking about pumpkin season or the financial planning universe, things can get scary. Is a specific event going to pass like the holiday or is it something that is more indicative of a trend line? It’s important to keep this in mind and make prudent choices when managing your finances.
Second, just like planting pumpkin seeds, a good financial plan can take some time to come together. Just because you show up and wait out the time doesn’t mean it’s going to happen automatically.
Third, a pumpkin patch needs watering, attention, and cultivation to achieve maximum fruit. Just like a pumpkin, finances need cultivation to see growth.
Interested in hearing more about this topic? You can listen to the full episode of the North Main Financial radio show on WSIC by clicking here: Halloween & Finances (10-5-19).
Other articles you may be interested in:
If you have questions about your financial goals, or would like to talk with us further about our services, give us a call at (704) 987-1425 or visit us at www.northmainfinancial.com. If you wish to schedule an introductory meeting, we would be happy to meet with you at no cost or obligation to you.
These Blogs are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. Any opinions or forecasts contained herein reflect the subjective judgments and assumptions of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of SagePoint Financial.