VALUES … Unlock your Future

Without a map, and lacking a purpose and destination, people can land in unhappy places.  The board game “Snakes And Ladders” illustrates peoples’ rocky relationship with money.  When cash is plentiful people spend freely.  When times turn down, however, money becomes slippery. Too quickly it’s gone!  To make wealth a faithful servant we forge a direct connection to your personal “values”.  This includes experiences you most want to enjoy (or avoid) for yourself and for those who are most dear to you.


WITHOUT A PLAN people risk failure.  This sounds harsh yet it’s been proven true countless times.  Credit cards can lead to painful disaster unless you know how to use them without paying interest.  Enlarging a mortgage to ease consumer debts (eg. repeatedly adding credit card debt to a home mortgage) has aggravated undisciplined spending and helped ignite the worldwide meltdown of 2008-2009.

What if ... you buy too much house, too much car, too much lifestyle?  All too soon it lands in pain or disaster.  Governments may book debts as if they were assets but don’t do that at home; it’s not safe.

Inheritances too can carry a sting because first someone had to die, and heirs may have mixed feelings about how to use such gifts or money.  Was it never discussed ahead of time?  (Consider Lynne Butler’s book, “Estate Planning through Family Meetings.”)

Other major decisions or windfalls arise with severance, pension pay-outs, sale of a business, winning a lottery.  These experiences each deserve unique focus but what connects them is the potential for catastrophic loss in the absence of clear personal and financial “values” to guide ongoing success.


This is my key focus in our discussions.  You could easily think financial planning is just about money but it’s really about LIFE.  Usually if someone is buying a drill they don’t want the drill but the hole a drill can provide.  Cars may symbolize a name, a reputation, speed or power, but what if your actual goal is a reliable ride to your desired destination?  Yes?  It’s much the same with money!

King Midas wanted gold but when all he touched became gold -- even his beloved daughter -- he was the saddest creature alive.

What we really want is LIFE …indeed the lifestyle, comfort, and opportunities you can enjoy personally and share with all those you cherish.


We discuss this with every client and review continually in our ongoing meetings.  While many people share certain goals or concerns, there is a unique DNA in the values of each person and family.  Expressing these in your Certified Life and Financial Plan opens a truly personal design and map for your future.

Consider the following five.  Remove some.  Add your own.  Then let's put them in order of your own priority.


This is what many mention first.  It reflects a major risk in our society today.  People may spend too much, save too little or too late.  Illness or injuries arise.  Debts, divorce, and other issues occur.  Kids need help.  (70% in their 40s to 60s need help from mom and dad.)   Living longer than expected, even outliving one’s money, is truly heartbreaking!

Our twin focus on “Life Horizons” and “Life Income Mandates” links Wealth and Life in a plan to never run out of money.


Like Eric Burdon (The Animals) some count the days to retirement.  Bureaucracy, stress and strain can eat away at health.  But it’s useless if we fail to prepare a positive lifestyle.  A cartoon once asked, “What kind of work would you like to do in your retirement?”  Or ...would you stop work to just moulder at home?

We have to build a “lifestyle beyond work”.  Five key areas include money, identity, feeling useful, having a schedule, and enjoying other people socially.  A personal coaching program you can download freely is here:  Happy horizons depend on far more than leaving your work or business.


Travel was #1 in my surveys for The Halton Retirement Study   The question was, “Leisure to me especially means…”  Travel was the absolute winner where 62% put this in top position.  Even younger households rank travel highly.  People want fresh experiences whether alpine hiking or resort-based pampering (even both).  Music, art, foods, breezes, sunrises and landscapes, tropical paradise …name your pleasure!

Expressing this in your plan is vital.  Otherwise there's a risk of spending too much, or staying home unnecessarily and missing your dreams.  Will travelling today mean wiping tables for a living at 78, borrowing from family at 83?   An older friend told me in 1994, “If we’d known we were going to live so long….” and her voice fell painfully silent as the money was gone.  The plan is everything!


People don’t want to burden their children.  Over the past 10-15 years there have been historic changes in the workplace.  Some had to retire before they were ready.  And as lifespans get longer, a career of 30 years may lead to retirement of 40 years!

Also health costs are tripling between age 65 and 80Health inflation is over 10% annually.  Government cannot carry this tsunami of aging without cutting programs and raising taxes.  Family wealth may burn like a grass-fire in August.

Knowing how to protect financial independence is a core value most people want to fit alongside their wealth and lifestyle.


It’s a revealing question.  I ask, “If you could have one more thing, what would that be?”   People offer so many wonderful answers to this question.  They mention a few luxuries, an exotic destination or two, how they’ll redesign their living space, even expanding cultural and entertainment choices.

Volunteering and philanthropy fit here too as time and money permit.  Also finding ways to mentor others in business or community ventures.


We continue to review your plans and progress over the years.  DNA stays the same, but we do adapt to changing ideas, abilities, and wishes along the way.  This is the freedom to live your life, discover something you want to add, and continue building this into your plan.

When and where would you like to travel?  How intense is this experience? How much will it cost?  How often do you want to do this?  What other kinds of trips would you paint onto this canvas?  Will travel change with age …and if so how will plan for your changing budget?

Many have found new activities and engagement.  There are vast opportunities for part-time or seasonal roles if you will -- paid or volunteer.  And the best part? get to choose the best fit for your own interests.


One of life’s most fulfilling experiences is to align Life and Wealth to achieve what is most dear to you.  Many never experience this, as the financial industry has too often been deaf to peoples’ deeper goals and desires.  Whenever that has happened, the destination was unknown and the journey unclear.

“Values-based Financial Planning” can optimize income and safeguard resources for the Life you choose, the Joy you desire, the grand Purpose and ultimate Meaning for your own life and that of your loved ones. 

Yours in Financial Security for LIFE!

Brian Weatherdon,  MA, CFP, CLU, CPCA. 
627 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ontario. L7R 3M7.   
Ret.Coach SEALCertified Financial Planner.  Certified Retirement Coach. 
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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