When you don’t know all the answers, ask more questions

By Byron Moore, posted March 27, 2017

Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

Q: I don’t really have any clear financial goals. I guess I eventually want to have enough to retire on, but other than that I’m not sure what I would need. I’m probably leaving a bunch of stuff out.

A: You may be looking at the wrong side of the equation.

Ask More QuestionsSomeone asked you what your financial goals are and you don’t feel like you have a good answer. OK. So don’t focus on your lack of a good answer.

How about asking yourself some of the following good questions?

On family. What is the next big milestone upcoming for your family? Children? School? College? Grandchildren? Is there anything (possessions, opportunities, abilities, emotionally, spiritually) you want to make absolutely sure your children / grandchildren have? If you were suddenly removed from their lives, what would your family miss most? If parents are still living, would care for them fall to you if they became ill? Who would care for you if you became ill for an extended period of time?

On work. What do you actually do? Is this the job/career you always dreamed of? Do you enjoy your place of work and your co-workers? Do you feel you are fairly compensated for what you do? Is there sufficient upside to your income potential? Does your current job offer you opportunities to grow? Is there another job/career you are currently dreaming of? Are you moving in that direction, or do you feel it is impossible to do so? If money was not an object, what would you do for a living? Is there any possible way to do that?

On lifestyle. Are you living in your forever home? Do you like where you live, or do you wish you lived somewhere else? Is your lifestyle peaceful or chaotic? If chaotic, do you want things to be different? What would that take? Are you living within your means, above your means or beneath your means?

On pain. What hurts? When things are quiet and you are alone, what do you worry about? Is it possible for this to change? What one area of pain in your life would you most like to eliminate? What one area of your life would you most like to make progress on over the next three years?

On passions. What do you day dream about? What do you love to do? Is there anything you enjoy doing that other people give you lots of affirmation about? How do you spend your time when you are not working? What do you do that is especially meaningful to you? Is there a cause or institution whose mission and existence you care deeply about? What would you most like to accomplish with the rest of your life? How would you like to be remembered?

On happiness. What makes you happy (first thing that comes to mind!)? If you won $10,000,000 in the lottery…then what? Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in your life – better? Worse?

Well now…that’s lot of questions. The object is not to sit down and write out an answer for each question as quickly as possible. There is no time cap on how long you may take to carefully contemplate and answer these questions. And I’ll just bet that if you answer these, you’ll come up with some additional questions yourself.

If you’re married, consider discussing these questions with your mate. It will make for an interesting date night, I’ll guarantee!

The better questions you ask, the clearer answers you’ll get.

And remember, the purpose of a financial plan is to bring you closer and closer to achieving the answers you discovered when asking better questions.

Don’t know all the answers?

Keep asking good questions.

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Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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