VALUES …. #1 Secret Key to your Future

How do you find a way to discuss the Life you want and the Future you'll get?  Without answering to this question you could get any future ...and not the one you're wanting.  It's like having no say in the matter!  But if we connect your personal values now to the wealth and decisions you make through these years, I promise you can accomplish a freedom and sense of purpose and independence for your life and those dearest to you.

Values-based Financial Planning

Many in life have an awkward relationship with money.  It’s gone when they need it most.  When they have some, they spend more.  Heirs spend it too quickly.  Winners lose it even faster.  "Boomers" may believe they’ll fix the problem later…  A few say the government has to deal with it, or “our children will take care of us”.  Everyone says there's no time to talk about it now.  How do YOU feel about that?  How is this likely to work out for you or your family?

Beneath this is an enormous fear many people have, that they’ll run out of money some day, perhaps even repeating a misery they've already experienced.  That’s like swimming across a five-mile lake when you've only done 60 laps in a pool.  What do you do with that kind of fear?  Bury it and accept whatever comes?

Others may feel that No amount of money will fix what isn't working in their lives.

What if we put 90 minutes once or twice a year into planning the next 30 or 40 years of comfort, purpose, and personal fulfillment!  Is life worth this tiny investment, to arrange an abundant and satisfying future?

Value of Planning

Most people suppose planning could be valuable.  Few get to do it.  Imagine the value of each hour when people who get financial planning end up with two to four times as much wealth as those who missed out on the planning.   (Or in senior years to see your income lasting to age 95 instead of 78.)

Over time, an hour or so of financial planning can be worth a year's income!  It effectively costs nothing to plan your success!   What’s costly is the impact of not planning!

Value of VALUES Values pic 2

I always focus with a question, “What is most important to you about….?”  If I didn’t begin with such a question we could be stuck talking solely about money and a rudderless focus on investment returns.  These can be meaningless without knowing the life you want.

Money on its own is boring to far more people than you'd expect.  Returns are also fickle.  Story is told of King Midas:  all he touched turned to gold.  It was a prayer answered; a curse unleashed.  Money is poverty without the dear ones and life and health you can cherish.

Deeper and true value is in the Life you live, the activities you enjoy, hazards you want to avoid, securing loved ones, making a larger-than-life impact in a way of your own choosing.  So…“what is most important in your financial planning for the life you choose?"

Value of  “WHAT-is-Most-Important-to-YOU?”

I ask this of every client.  We find common themes, just as most have two arms and legs, and share some views about the future.  But like DNA our values-structure is unique to each of us, and to each family.  Capturing and expressing this within your Certified Financial Plan sets a personal design for your future.   We wouldn’t hike Patagonia without a map;  nor should we navigate the future without documenting your VALUES that guide the journey and milestones along the way.

“Never Run Out of Money”

This is a values-statement many share in their own unique words.  If we think about this, there are many ways to run out of money, whether from low-interest investments, severe losses, rising health costs, or just outliving our money.  This is why we design our process in terms of Life-Income-Mandates so we can sustain a platform to never, never run out of money.

“Healthy Income for Extreme Travel”Values pic 1

Not everyone’s goal …but if this is you, your plan must support a vigorous lifestyle now without impoverishing you later.  How can assets permit high spending in early retirement, plus ensure lasting income through our 80s and 90s?  Without a plan, will you be looking for work at 78, wiping tables at 83, hustling an MLM at 91?  Without a sufficient plan there’s Trudy who told me twenty years ago, “If we’d known we were going to live so long….” and her voice trailed off painfully as their money had expired.

“Gotta Get Out Of This Place”

Some humming with Eric Burdon and The Animals  have been counting days for 10 years or more, waiting to flee the bureaucracy, demands and stress of their current work.  This is a "value" yet with a potentially negative trajectory.  What if the money doesn’t last?  How will you manage new and unanticipated expenses?  As a cartoon once asked, “What kind of work would you like to do in your retirement?”  Let's define what health and wealth will mean as you step into the ongoing horizons of your retirement.  (See Life Horizons...Assuring Income for Life)

“Take care of us,  Help our children”

A couple speak of remaining independent without burdening their children (40s/50s) who already shoulder a great many burdens in work and family life.  They expand this to say they want to continue owning their home, traveling 3x/year, while managing health costs and comfort while they age (view: Health Inflation >10% annually),  while also leaving a legacy to endear their names among great-grandchildren long into the future.

Some Luxuries – Comfort – Freedom – Confidence

Your answers here, and how you view your future, give the unique DNA for your financial planning.  From this we can build the “Mandates” that align life and wealth in a map of your future.  “If this is the life you want, what is the financial structure that could guarantee lasting success in your personal goals?”

Updating your ValuesConfidence pic

We don’t change your DNA but we adapt to changing circumstances and dreams along the way.  Someone who thought they’d make four extensive trips each year found the experience a bit much and now prefers two long distance trips and two shorter vacations.  Another retired fully, only to begin a consulting career to share their skills and experience on a part-time basis for the next five or ten years, still remaining fully true to their underlying values.  Some have taken on volunteer and philanthropic activities to channel their capacity to give and impact wider community for good.  Not a few have adult-children whose job-losses required family support for a season.  Health or illness can also reshape our goals or the urgency of our life values.

Satisfaction in Self-Understanding

Nothing is more strategic or personally fulfilling than understanding your unique values for your life and the shape this brings to your wealth and sense of wellbeing.  Most people are never given an opportunity to discuss their purposes, goals and dreams when making deposits at any kind of financial institution.  That is a sad truth.  If your story and values are missing, how likely is it you'll reach the destination you want?

Without a sense of your values and wishes, your future could wither away at 3% returns or it could melt away 1/3 to 1/2 every 7-10 years in stock market crashes.  Between these extremes, if you live long enough to spend all but the home you're living in, will you find yourself alone and bereft of support?  So looking at this would you say, aligning wealth with the life you want to enjoy, is truly a "core value" for your financial planning?  (Please share your comments below.)

“Values-based Financial Planning” can optimize income and resources for the life you choose, the joy you want, the purpose and meaning your life can represent while you living …and even long after you're gone. 

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Brian Weatherdon, MA CFP CLU CPCA MDRT
905-637-3500 x 223 


  1. Brian,
    Thank you for posting this. As you saw in my poll, poverty is one of the top fears for seniors- especially Baby Boomers. At the same time, we tend to put off planning and simply live in fear of not having enough money to live. My husband and I were recently reflecting upon how many of the seniors in our community expressed not planning to live to be as old as they are. We both realize that this lack of planning can become tremendous burden for our loved ones.

    I especially appreciate your values-based approach to financial planning and would like to learn more about your perspectives and how we might benefit from your knowledge and insight.

  2. You’re right Margaret, the lack of planning can cause great distress especially when people have had adequate resources, if only they had lived fewer years . . . and then it’s too late to go back and plan. Wealthier people too, many even with $5Million or more, may lack the conscientious and thorough planning to assure personal wishes (in life and beyond).

  3. Thank you Brian for this insightful article. I am guilty of not planning and preparing for my retirement as well as many others.
    I guess we humans are almost all the same. We don’t plan or organize what is not an emergency or it doesn’t require our immediate attention. One way or another we all believe that everything will work out at the end, somehow.
    Either as mentioned in your article Brian, some think that their children will look after them, some believe that the government will and some believe that they will not live long. But we also know that some have no money or assets to plan for anything at all.
    So, for those of us who have the assets and are able to plan for our future it is time to give an answer your question: “What is most important to you about….?”

  4. Excellent article Brian. The lack of planning for our long-term well being is — and has been — a significant social-economic issue for some time and I do not believe the generations following ‘boomers’ are any more prepared. By referencing “values” you have taken this issue to a new level.

    You hit on several key issues, one being that many people are without a sense of their own values and as Roy Disney stated, ““It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” So knowing yourself and understanding your own values is vital for planning for your future,

    Thank you Brian! It is about time someone explained the how and why of effective retirement planning.

  5. Throughout our careers we talk about planning…strategic planning, business planning, setting goals and action planning…and on and on. When you think back, how many planning exercises were you involved in, how many were actually implemented, and how many of those implemented actually produced results?

    This is why we hate planning. For some reason, we relate it to difficult, mind-numbing work that does not deliver results most of the time. Or we have had several experiences where our leaders failed to implement, successfully, plans on which we expended considerable time and effort.

    But financial and lifestyle planning is personal – it should not be confused with business planning. This is the way to secure the lifestyle you want, based on what you value, and what will provide the security level you need and your family will respect.

    Brian’s message about planning for your future, based on your values, applies no matter your current life stage.

    Thanks for the reminder, Brian.

  6. Excellent distinction, Donna, totally different than such “planning” in business.

    This “Values”-approach for Life- & Financial-planning is a deeply personal experience to achieve the Life & Purpose you want for yourself and all who are dearest to you.

    Margaret earlier mentions seniors’ fears. Whether that be running out of money, or failing to actualize the enduring purpose of one’s life, we cannot leave such to our children or the government. No one else is responsible for our dreams, values, purposes, and overall pleasure / gratitude for a life well-lived.

    We needn’t call it “planning” if that’s a put-off. Let’s call it “story-writing” or a time to sit by our easel to choose the colours & textures we can lift onto the canvas of a lifetime. It’s an intriguing and energizing experience to share together.

  7. What’s the point of having money if you don’t enjoy it? It is a tricky subject – since you can’t predict how long you will live, how do you plan? “Know thyself” is old wisdom – if you’re planning to retire and camp for the rest of your life, that’s one thing. Planning a grand, active life after retirement is another. When I think about putting the burden on our children, it’s scary…and unacceptable. Planning is the key! I’m thinking about a radio program I just heard – “What would you tell your 18 year old self about money?”
    I Love this “Values” approach – the essence of what your life is about…so you CAN live the grand, active life most of want after retirement.
    Thank you, Brian – this is an important article about what the focus should be in retirement planning.

  8. Magnificent post. You must continue writing.

  9. I wish to say that this post is amazing!

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