Many people would rather talk about their love lives than their finances. This is a conundrum to me, but I have a few theories on what may be holding you back.
The fear of confirming ignorance appears to be a riskier place for many than the complacency of innocence. For many, it is as simple as being ok with what they don’t know – especially if the process of learning will make them feel incompetent or dare I say… ignorant. Get over it. If you are waiting your entire life to address issues that may be needing attention until you know enough to fix it yourself, it may be too late.
Another fear is the “who to ask” without revealing your innocence or exposing you in a way that you’d rather not be judged. Of course, the best answer would be to ask someone that you know is competent in the subject in need of attention. Just a warning, that person in the know is frequently not found around the water cooler at work or around the dinner table. Start by asking the people that you respect where they go for reliable answers. They may lead you to a valuable free resource from a book or a web site or they may lead you to a competent financial professional with whom they’ve worked for years.
Consider talking to your spouse or another trusted family member who may also be a bit innocent, and not in the know. In fact, speaking to a spouse about money may be the best thing that you can do for your relationship. Divorce attorneys frequently cite money issues or simply a lack of communication about money issues as a primary cause for stress in marital relationships. When you find someone that you trust, it may be easier for both of you to come up with a plan to end the innocence and get on the path to pro-actively taking care of your financial needs.
What to ask also holds back many. Headlines and sound bites are useful for getting your attention, but not for disseminating advice. They are, however, a good place to start on the concern of what to ask. Use these readings and those of other great financial publications as your issue recognition start. The objective here is to get your baseline of financial knowledge to inch up the knowledge ladder. You can progress from innocence to realizing that you need knowledge to knowing what you need to know, and then solve the problems that have been hidden in plain sight for most of your adult life.
The last part of the picture is action. Knowing what to ask, or where you need help is the first part of the equation. What makes this all worthwhile is implementation. Start making a list of all the areas where you believe that you need help or further knowledge. The implementation part does not need to be radical surgery and all done at once. Start in small bites and accomplish one thing at a time. But do yourself a favor and get started.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is Founder and Chairman of Napier Financial in Braintree, MA. Visit or napierfinancial.com for more information. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and Napier Financial are separate entities from LPL Financial.