Wondering when you're going to get your check? Filing for new unemployment benefits? Listen to Ian Calmly Talks Again about the CARES Act. There are a lot of changes in this bill. Ian tries to walk you through the basics.
I started writing this piece because of someone who you’ve seen linked here before, Meg Bartelt. We were having an amazing conversation under a tree in Hana, talking about what it’s like to be in this moment for me. At the time of writing this, I’m both terrified and excited. It’s been that way since I left my last job. It’s about to be over, things have started moving for my firm in a big way, but I didn’t want to miss capturing this emotion. Starting a financial planning firm from scratch is hard and we aren’t talking about it enough. So here I am, talking about it, because that’s probably the best way to convey the feeling.
“Then you really might know what it’s like…” - What It’s Like by Everlast
Entrepreneurship and self-drive has been something bubbling under the surface for me for a long time. I sold knives during the summer following my freshman year of college, eager to be in control of my income. I sought out an RA job when I discovered that slinging blades wasn't for me. I liked it enough, but disliked the hours. I then participated in an MLM, much to the chagrin of my friends, a few years later. It was all to see what I could build for myself. The latter did not work out, so I got to taste failure, but it left me knowing what it took to get myself to work on my own. So I don’t think it was to anyone’s surprise when I started Open World Financial Life Planning. Granted, this is a real thing I’m building, not a manufactured version of entrepreneurship.
The first few months of starting my firm were a mix of excitement and frustration. There was a ton of ‘creative energy’ flowing through me. I had a strong desire to design, to build, to produce. That’s where the YouTube channel and the Podcast started. I had tons of time and nothing to do with it, so cranking out content was a way to distract myself. That’s where the frustration set in, between trying to manage the transition of some clients and the state regulatory board not approving my firm in a timely fashion, I just wanted to be able to announce my business to the world. I had tons of videos produced (they were bad, but they existed) and I wanted to post them!
Over time that excitement gave way to something entirely different. It only took about two weeks after registration. I would call it dread. Have you ever played a strategy game (anything from Monopoly to Civilization) and seen your loss before it happened? You can see how your opponent is about to win, but they would need to really mess up for you to not lose. That’s the feeling. Okay, so now I’m registered, but I have no idea how to get clients from scratch.
I tempered this feeling and ignored it with action. I began going to some networking events. Three or so a week. I also taught ‘lunch and learns’ at the coworking space I was now a part of. Both were fulfilling, because I was meeting new people, and I had some immediate results in the form of interest. It took a few months (January, and I launched in August), but I started bringing on some clients. That was a huge relief. Phew. I really can do this, with or without Steve.
At my previous firm I was benefitting hugely from the reputation and clout of my mentor, and I now no longer had that cushion, but I was proving to myself that it was possible to do it on my own. That was exciting. All the while, however, I was watching my bank account trickle downward. The start-up expenses for my firm were not great (I measured them about at $1,100/mo, pretty lean), but my cost of living was high for the area. Two cars we’d bought when we had two incomes now seemed like they were eating me alive. That trickle caused anxiety, especially when clients stopped showing up for a while.
In 2019, from May to October, I brought on zero new clients. Talk about anxiety. After talking with other firm owners and being on the other side, I can tell you that this is entirely normal as a phase of growth, but it still terrified me. What if I fail? I had an inheritance, and I’m burning through it every month…
I have since described this feeling as having a 10lb weight on your chest at all times, and when you need to spend a few hundred dollars on something, it goes up to 20lbs. If there’s one lesson I would have you take from this, do not let that emotion come home. I did. It’s been difficult to talk to my wife about money in the past as we have entirely different money stories, and the minor panic made it even worse. I know for a while I made her feel every ounce of my anxiety, and that was not fair to her. She’s her own person with her own problems to deal with.
Then I went to XYPN Live in October and some magic happened (not the trading card game, I was the only one who played that was there…) I focused entirely on being better at planning and blocked out the real world for a few days, and as if by dumb luck, I had three emails for booked potential client appointments on my way out of the conference. I did not make calls, they all just showed up. It was an immense feeling of relief.
I would go on to bring in 4 clients from October to December of 2019, which made me feel over the moon. 9 new clients in 2019, short of my goal, but still growth of over 200% from what I had coming into the year.
That success has continued by the way. I brought on two clients this January, and have three potential new clients in February. It’s been great. I also have a new planner starting with me this month...someone who just showed up in my life and wanted to work the same way I did. We’ll announce him to the world soon, when he’s good and ready.
Don’t think that all this good fortune has changed the feelings though. Feelings aren’t logical. I know that things are looking up from here, but I’m still afraid of another client drought. I don’t think I will ever be fully free of that fear. It’s just less potent now.
Starting a financial planning firm is a rollercoaster. You will experience some pretty low lows. They will feel paralyzing, anxious, and full of self-doubt. The trade-off is that you will experience the highest highs you’ve ever had in your life. The list includes being featured in an article highlighting you as a person and a professional, changing the lives of your clients, having someone say to you “You’re amazing.” and actually mean it.
So do it, whatever that thing is for you. Just be prepared for the emotions. Be comfortable feeling them, to the extent that you can be. Make sure you have some amazing people in your corner too, pushing you to be better. I would not have made it this far without any one of these people.
-’The Friend Group’
-The Entirety of the Kinder 5-Day Group
And plenty of other people in my life who challenge me to think differently, act more, and do better.
“You know where it ends, yo, it usually depends on where you start…” - What It’s Like by Everlast
Buffs and Debuffs From Having A Child: Ian covers the financial planner's take on clients adding a kid. What sort of buffs and debuffs does he notice when parents have their first child? How do you assess if it's the right move for you?
What's up Internet? Welcome to Nerd Finance. I'm Ian Bloom, your resident financial life planner and huge nerd. In today's episode, we are going to be kind of continuing from last week because last week we talked about growing your adventuring party by adding a certified public accountant or a CPA to your party. Well, CPA's are useful, but what if you want a new player entirely to join the party, a child? What do financial planners think about that and what are the financial side trade-offs?
Well, to start off with, let's start with the high notes because it's always good to start on a high note. Children bring a lot of meaning and joy into people's lives. Just ask a recent parent, they are overjoyed and elated, although they are often tired as well. So having a child can bring a meaningfulness buff to your life. It will give you some more motivation and make you want to spend more time with the child. It also gives you a tax credit, which is a small financial incentive that the government puts out of about $2,000 a year that you will get back on your taxes.
Now the debuffs that a child provides to the party start with the upkeep. Frankly, early on diapers and food costs a little bit extra, but as the child grows up there will be other expenses that you will have to cover for them like school trips and daycare and other things like that. So just make sure that you are prepared for those additional upkeep expenses. Make sure that there is room in the budget so that you can handle this debuff without it knocking the party on its back.
The other debuff that it applies to the household from a financial perspective is having a child means that they're going to be some aspirational expenses that you would likely like to provide for the child. These are things like education, so college, or on the other side of the fence, maybe a life start fund regardless of whether the child wants to go to college. So things like a home down payment, buying the first car or an amount of money to start a business with, if that's what the child desires.
So these aren't necessarily debuffs from the perspective that they provide less meaning or take away the motivation of the party, but they are debuffs in the sense that they place additional financial strain and additional tax so to speak on the party's resources. So just make sure that when you're having a child you are prepared for this additional upkeep and aspirational expenses.
In summary, having a child can be a very meaningful thing and is often a goal of many parties. Bringing new players into the game means that the game continues to be played and it also provides a level of fulfillment to the original party members. Anytime you raise a new player and get them past level five it feels really good because then you get to start seeing them act like a full-on player. But in addition to that, there is a small tax credit that you get as a benefit for having a child.
Finally on the debuff side we have added upkeep, which is an additional expense, and we have aspirational expenses like providing for college and helping the child start their life. But all that being said, I haven't provided specific numbers for those things so I will include a worksheet in the description below that kind of uses some of the numbers that I've worked with clients.
I hope that this video was both helpful and maybe a little funny to you to hear me describe children as new players. If you did like the video, like, comment, subscribe, and also head over to my website, openworldfp.com to check out my firm and some of the services that we offer. Thanks so much. Have a wonderful day.
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