Like many men, I am not good about going to the doctor for an annual checkup. It’s not that I’m too busy, or even that the experience is unpleasant, it’s just that I’m fine. Or, more accurately, hope I’m fine, but am concerned that the doctor might tell me I’m not. So instead of getting a professional assessment of my health, I choose to remain blissfully unaware of any potential illnesses I might have.
I think too many of us do the same thing with our financial health. Rather than have an accurate understanding of our economic condition, we bury our heads in the sand and just hope that one way or another it will all work out and we won’t run out of money. It doesn’t take someone with a master’s degree in economics to know that this is not a good plan. Yet too many people choose not to have a yearly check-up with their financial advisor.
Dr. Phil has a saying, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge” – I could not agree more with this statement. This is why the first step I take when providing financial counseling to someone is to ask them pointed questions about their finances. These questions address things like their assets, debt, income and spending habits. Only by knowing this information can I get a realistic perspective on the individual’s true financial situation. I often find that people don’t know the answers to these basic financial questions. It is at this point that they usually acknowledge they haven’t paid as close of attention to their finances as they should have, and begin to understand that if they hope to see improvement in their overall balance sheet, it’s going to take them getting involved.
Luckily, technology has made the task of keeping track of all this information much easier than it used to be. Through a process called account aggregation, many companies such as Quicken, Intuit and Yodlee are now able to pull account balances and transactions from a multitude of sources and deliver them all to a single location.
This gives you the ability to have a global view of your finances within a single application. Because we believe simplicity and clarity are the keys to gaining financial confidence, we recently developed account aggregation services within an app of our own. Our clients are now able to see a snapshot of their entire financial picture on their mobile device at any given time.
This type of software is especially beneficial for couples that do not participate equally in the day to day finances of the household. Through the use of our StewCap app, I am able to gather data for my family budget meetings in minutes, rather than hours, and if something happens to me, my wife rests easy knowing that every piece of financial information she will need is accessible right on her phone. Perhaps best of all, this type of technology is often available through your bank, or investment advisor free of charge.
I encourage you to not wait until you start seeing dangerous symptoms to schedule a financial checkup. Do it now. You’ll sleep better at night knowing that you have a clear understanding of your financial situation, and your future is not being left to chance.