Episode 2 – Down to Earth

Financial grounding

In today’s episode, Danielle Howard discusses her financial philosophy with Matt Halloran. Perceptive as always, Danielle reveals the often unspoken ways in which people interact with and view money. Then, she describes the financial seasons we all experience, along with the three financial hurdles—discomfort, discontent, and distrust.

Tune in and learn about Danielle’s down-to-earth approach to financial planning and how our relationships with ourselves, others, and finances are all interconnected.

[00:00:02] Welcome to the Wealth Done Differently Retirement Podcast Danielle Howard a certified financial planner shares insight into the financial tools techniques and temperaments needed to make the most of your retirement dollars and relationships. Danielle bridges the gap between Wall Street and Main Street bringing complex financial topics down to earth. Danielle will educate and inspire you as you define and refine your version of prosperity. Hello and welcome to podcast episode number two with Danielle Howard. This is a great opportunity for Danielle to walk us through just who she is philosophically and in and really what she believes as a financial services professional in our podcast title today is down to earth and Danielle you’re having me ask some some very specific questions that a lot of people would overlook as questions that would be important. Do you mind before we dive into the questions for you to tell me where these where these questions came from and why they’re so important. Well I’ve written a book on this topic. Your financial revolution time to recognize revitalize and release your financial power. I think people are ready to start looking at their money differently and especially as people move towards their retirement or rewire it years. The context needs to change with money because you don’t have as much time to make mistakes or recover from challenges that life throws at us. So my my goal with talking about money from a slightly different context is to help people reconnect with what really is their idea of of prosperity what is their vision of true wealth and how to use their financial resources to beat the wind beneath their wings.

[00:02:05] The foundation of all of this is what money is. Exactly. That’s the first question. I can’t wait to hear your response. Many Yep people think of money in different ways and many times it’s oh it’s that green stuff but we know it’s changing now. It’s a push of a button because it’s an exchange and it’s an exchange of value. We can look at it as money is what money does which is a quote from Sir John Hicks. That sounds so old and so broad. I appreciate the definition that Lynne Twist referred to money in her book The Soul of Money as a flow of our intentions and that made for some sound a little ethereal or unearthly. But when you look at it it really is. It is a flow of what is important to us. It is an exchange. It is a way of expressing ourselves whether it is how we bring money into our eyes with what we do to earn a living or how we receive money it could be from Social Security. Or it could be from a trust account and how we deal with it how we feel about it how we use it how we give it away how we spend it. It’s a flow of what’s important to us. It is a medium of exchange. What does money mean to you Matt. Well I mean you really hit the nail on the head with a lot of those things and I think that how we define money really affects how we interact with that that flow right. I always thought it was something that allows you to gain more freedom right.

[00:04:00] So but but that’s not always true. DANIEL Right. I mean sometimes when you have lots and lots of money you actually have even more restrictions on your life. So one of the reasons why I’m so excited about podcasting with you is I know you’re going to challenge not just my feeling surrounding money wealth retirement planning and really this whole idea of the financial revolution but you’re going to be challenging the listeners too. So I love that. I think that’s fantastic and you say that there are three major financial hurdles that people have to go through and this is all connected so do you mind answering them. What are those three financial hurdles. Well it’s not what you think many people just go with. The context of what the world is telling them are when I ask people that question I hear things well I need to get to retirement or I need to get out of debt or I should create a budget. And that’s very surface. It’s very tangible. Those might be things that you can put a quantitative number to. And it’s, there still important and there are still things that we need to deal with. But to me it we have to look at the financial hurdles as residing much deeper there much more profound and they’re even more challenging to overcome than those ones mentioned above. This can be you know maybe a little challenged with that thought that well it’s more than saving for retirement. But I really feel if we can connect with these hurdles that there it will be much more effectual and creating health financial health in our lives.

[00:05:47] The first one is discontent when you think about being discontent with your money. Does that resonate with you a little bit. Absolutely. I think we all wrestle with a variety of things around discontentment. It may be about inequality. You know that’s a big one in the news nowadays and we have to take a look that there will always be people that have more and there will always be others that have less than us. What does that mean to us and how do we talk about it. How do we process that we may have discontent about how we receive money whether that is through a job position. Are we happy with it or are unhappy. Maybe our feelings around guilt if we have received an inheritance or getting money from a trust fund is looking at how we how many comes into our lives. There may be discontentment around how much joy we get out of it. We know that money can only buy happiness up to a certain point. And how do we wrestle with that aspect. We may have discontentment around our financial personalities which is a whole other podcast in and of itself how we were raised around money or maybe our life experiences things that we’ve encountered. But that idea of discontentment around our financial decisions our choices our life world view is something that we really need to address and deal with. OK. Next we have discomfort. Is it challenging to talk about money. I think so. And you know we look at taboo topics around when are the big taboo topics out there. And it’s usually sex and money.

[00:07:54] I have been working in this industry for over 22 years and I will have couples come in and this may be the first time that they have talked about money together. And I think that that is something that we really need to address as our discomfort around that and so many in so many ways our identity is tied to money. Yeah it’s about what we do for a living or what type of car we own or what type of phone we use. And I think that there is some discomfort in separating our networks from our self-worth and we need to peel that apart and we need to understand that they are separate. Are we willing to be vulnerable and talk about these types of things. It’s one of the things I’m willing to do through these podcasts is I’ll be sharing some of my stories and some of the challenges that I’ve had in wrestling with this. This discomfort around who we are with with money. Well the third piece I’m sorry all of you. I want to just highlight just a couple of things that I don’t know if you might have heard but I think you made my head explode there for a minute. The whole idea of net worth versus self worth and if we are going to talk about that on leader podcast I just want to highlight that because you know I kind of know the direction that you’re going here and you started with this content and then you move to discomfort is the third one had this to let’s stick with Ash let’s see let’s look at distrust. OK. OK now how many. How many times.

[00:09:42] I think our industry in itself let’s look at the financial services industry and we have a lot of ugliness out there. When I talk to people and people go what should I be looking for in a financial adviser. Or you listen to maybe other podcasts or you’ve read something and they say find somebody you can trust. How do you do that when it’s hard enough for us to trust. Maybe even the people in our own household. I think we’ve all maybe kept a secret from somebody close to us. Maybe a small purchase or I’ve even heard of people having you know private bank accounts or many stashed places where other people don’t know about it. And I think that whole idea of learning how to trust learning how to trust each other whether it’s in our intimate family relationships with maybe spouses maybe children maybe parents. But how do we move through that idea of financial distrust and the financial services industry is just rift with it. You know I don’t think anybody trusts the government out any anybody really trusts the financial services industry. I think a lot of people wrestle with how do we purchase products that meet our expectations or who do we trust when we’re making an online purchase. So there’s a lot of distrust around financial choices and products services and you know even conversations within our own households that I think is a huge hurdle that we need to overcome. So the three financial hurdles discomfort discontent and distrust.

[00:11:33] Now again all of this flows into your big picture philosophy on people’s relationships with money and not just the kind of conversations you need to have with your financial services professional. And I have heard a lot of people talk about financial health. I’m excited to hear how you define that. What I mean by financial health is taking a look at those three hurdles and realizing that they’re not numbers in nature. They’re more subdued. They’re more internal. And then with financial health we need to define it for ourselves. I like to compare that a lot of times I love using analogies and you’ll hear me talking about nature a lot but I also use the analogy of our physical health and this is a good one to compare financial health of physical health. We know that if we have food in the refrigerator that doesn’t mean we’re eating healthy for our own personal body types. There’s a lot of research out there that shows you know some people need a certain type of diet and there’s not one perfect fit for anyone out there. So just having money in the bank or investments in a 401k or having a life insurance policy doesn’t mean that you are financially healthy. If you have access to a gym do you know how to use that equipment to best accomplish your goals. It’s the same with your financial tools that you may be using. Do you know how to use them as your life is changing. I know that I can’t use the you know the tools at the gym the equipment at the gym in the same way at my current age as I did when I was 20 years younger.

[00:13:26] So I get out things need to change and our financial choices need to change our financial tools need to change in order to help us accomplish our goals especially as we move towards that retirement years of retirement. You know looking at retirement in a different context may maybe previously have I don’t think that financial health is a destination it’s a journey it’s about making intentional financial decisions and strategic changes all along the way. So if you look at your physical life and you look at what are you doing differently now than what you did 10 years ago. You know that changes need to happen. And it’s the same thing with our financial health. You also talk about financial seasons so as this isn’t entirely fluid process what are the personal financial seasons. We’re going to talk a lot about seasons in this podcast. And again my goal is to help people understand money and a little bit different way. I get to live in beautiful rocky mountains in Colorado. And as we discussed earlier I’ve got a river running right outside my door so I get to see the distinct changes in seasons around here we’ve got spring summer winter fall and I love the idea of comparing not only our personal life seasons but you know what does it look like to imbue that with a economic season and what does it look like to take a look at our financial system. So let’s define it a little bit more. We know that it’s there’s a continuum that we’re fortunate to experience spring summer winter fall over and over and over again throughout our lives and our first distinction is knowing that life’s season is a there’s a finite beginning you know starting at birth and ending in death.

[00:15:44] So if we were to look at it you know compare that to the seasons we would say a life season we start with spring birth new life and we end with death winter and there is a opportunity to bloom and grow and flourish and then it winds down. So that’s the you know the the beginning into our life. We also can look at financial seasons and these are continuing is cyclical throughout life. Let me give you an example. So my husband rewired when he was 55 years old he left a career in the financial services world and we really drilled down on what brought meaning to his life and how do we look at living a life without regrets. And we went through a process of opening that door to what was truly important to him and he started a new career in teaching. So he entered a new season in his life at what people would considered a fall life season is in the fall of his life his 55 years old. But he is blooming all over again. We looked at how he wanted to invested himself how to go back to school how he was going to cultivate that new ground as he got his teaching credentials and started this new career. That to me is exciting to walk people through the financial context of that. What does that mean. Now the financial services world and basically our culture in general says oh you’re supposed to retire supposed to draw a line in the sand hop over into the fall season of life and withdraw or retire. Pull back. And I say Yeah. No no not so much.

[00:17:36] Let’s let’s look at that a little bit differently. My husband Mark had a 10 year season of growth in this teaching dynamic. He taught high school he was very engaged it was a wonderful opportunity for him. We had to make some really big financial choices for him to be able to do that. So for him to enter this new growth season in his personal life we had to take a look at maybe where we could harvest some financial resources. We had to look at what was going to happen to our income in order to pay for his schooling and to create an income stream for ourselves while he was in school. Yes so many of us take a look at what it’s going to change throughout life. So knowing that these seasons are a little bit different people out there you know you may have have to harvest some of your financial resources in order to you know have a wedding or send a child to college or to make that big purchase or a business venture down the road and you want to harvest from appropriate tools. It may be from investment accounts or life insurance cash values. So you see kind of the picture I’m trying to paint. You may experience different financial seasons within life seasons and it isn’t all you know it isn’t. It’s different for every single person out there and that’s what’s exciting about this world. I get to work in. Absolutely yeah. You’re painting a very very clear picture here. OK let me pay another one. How about a financial winter.

[00:19:27] So a financial winter would be something like a divorce or a death of a loved one. It has. I mean I the emotional impact the emotional winter of that is is really difficult. I’ve experienced that there’s also huge financial implications. And when I went through a divorce at twenty eight and had a one year old baby I was in the spring of my life I was getting ready to just bloom and grow and do all these things. And yet here I got hit upside a you know got hit upside life with a unexpected event and we had to deal with the financial implications of that. I think for a lot of people we experience those winters and life seasons that you know it’s a lot of times it’s very unexpected and very painful. You know the average women out there they say widowhood is 57 and that it’s mind boggling to me and these ladies you know you need to look at how you’re going to create an income stream and where is that going to come from. So you may be entering the fall season of your life but all of a sudden you experience a financial winter and you need to make decisions about how to take money if you want to take money out of a deceased spouse 401K or should you roll it over into your own. How do you deal with Social Security with widow benefits. So there’s a lot of moving complicated parts that you can’t look at just in a in a vacuum and they need to be looked at together and you just need to understand that a life season is going to have different financial seasons inside of it. That makes a lot of sense.

[00:21:22] You also talk about life principles I love I love how all of this just seems to seamlessly fit in together. So your feelings about money the three financial hurdles which are discontent is covered in discomfort and distrust. Talking about what financial health means and they going through those seasons and I like that that it’s not necessarily linear. Right. As you were just talking about with her husband right there are other opportunities where spring can happen and you should be open to that that spring or actually any of the seasons there should be a level of receptivity there. But now you talk about the six life principles. Help help us understand because this is very foundational right. Well let’s talk about the six financial principles or the six life principles. I’m sorry. All right. The first one is I think we all want to have some control in your life. I am an oldest child. I’m that type A personality. I can tend to be a control freak. Look what kind of industry I’m in. What I’ve chosen for a life career that there’s so little within our control. I think looking at what is truly within our control and where it circumvents with what is truly important and how we can focus on those pieces. We spend a lot of time and energy talking about or focusing on or getting upset about or worrying about the things that are outside of our control. And that’s a lot of wasted time and energy as far as I’m concerned.

[00:23:03] One of the things that I’ve worked on very intentionally and diligently over time is to look at how I want to spend my time my energy my financial resources to focus on things and to fully embrace what is within my control and understanding that there’s so little we have so little control. We don’t have control over what the market circuits do but we can control how our asset allocated or we can control our diversification or we can control you know looking at our tax returns and deciding can we be more optimal on how we’re taking money or being efficient with income streams or how we’re protecting our financial resources and how those things that are within our control support us in what is truly important in our life. I think that we need to address what is within our control and we need to make intentional choices about what we do with that control. Another piece is the idea of defined timing. You know there’s a lot of get rich quick schemes out there. There’s a lot. Oh my gosh. Price earnings ratios are so high. And how should I deal with our current economic environment. We know that we want to embrace the financial assistance. The life seasons the economic seasons and we know that those are all going to meld together for our benefit if we’re aware of them. So I think it’s important that we we understand that there’s there’s divine timing out there.

[00:24:53] The seasons are going to happen no matter what and that we don’t want to fall into whether it’s a get rich quick scheme are looking at I see it a lot when people are aging and they’re hitting that 55 and they’re going oh my gosh I need to make up all this ground because I didn’t prepare. So they try to get it really. They put all their money into equity environments that they’re taking on too much risk for what is important to them. And I think if we understand that there is a divine timing out there and that there is no such thing as get rich quick and that we plan and prepare and embrace that that it will serve us well. Next one is giving is foundational. Many people think well just give if there’s something left over to give. And in scripture we’ve heard it it’s better to give than to receive. There is something to be had when we understand the power of giving and that giving is vended foundational to what a healthy financial life is all about when we can find whether it’s the nonprofits or the organizations or the people that we want to have a flow of our financial resources just a piece of that to and that we get a sense of yeah we’re able to give just a little bit and start somewhere. Starts coming back to us and we want to know where our hearts are at and what’s important to us but that giving is foundational in its search. It not only makes you feel good. There’s all sorts of scientific evidence that that that giving does it releases endorphins that makes you it makes you feel good. And that if we can start doing that more as just a foundational piece of who we are that that will build our financial health in the long run. We also want to embrace the idea of we want to grow. We want to continue to grow.

[00:27:05] And knowing that that growing is not only financially but we want to grow in our personal life and our relationships we want to grow intellectually. We want to grow our financial assets again as we look at what changes when we move into the requirement season of life. Many people think it’s a let’s just draw the line in the sand and take money out of our accounts and it’s not really important to grow anymore. I think we do I think we need to continue to grow our assets. But I think it’s important that we need to understand why the people you need to define your wife are wanting to continue to grow especially your financial assets if it’s only about I’m just you know I want bigger pards I want to buy a bigger house. That is ultimately going to leave us a little you know discontent has come from it will embrace. Well it will end up facing those hurdles again. So you want to define your why you want to look at why is it important for you to keep growing to keep intellectually growing to learn something new every day. The financial markets change the ways you invest. Change the old idea of when you retire and you don’t tap into principal and you just cut coupons from your bond portfolio because you’re only going to be alive for 10 more years that that doesn’t exist anymore we’re in a whole new world of not only investing but how long we’re going to live. It may be 30 years. And understanding what needs to continue to grow in that new life season that you’re in is so important.

[00:28:55] I really appreciate my parents in this regard. My dad is about. He’ll be 85 this fall. My mom is a few years behind. But my dad continues to learn new aspects of his investment software and my my mom is still teaching water aerobics. It needs to remain certified at at a beautiful young age of 79. So they’ve set that lovely example for me of how you continue to grow event in the fall season of your life. Another principle that I think is really important for everybody to understand is that we need to use our resources wisely. It’s getting harder and harder. I live in the Rocky Mountains and in the West where water is a huge resource that is always looked at as something that right now we’re in a spring where we didn’t get much water and we didn’t get much moisture this winter our snowpack was much way below average and we need to conserve water. And I think if we look at our financial choices as our resources and even looking at our investments and when we know that unfortunately we create chaos and suffering in economies where we’re wasteful or where we hoard access or we celebrate excess.

[00:30:25] I think it’s important that people look at what does it mean for me to use my financial resources wisely as I determine how much is enough for myself as I determine how I want to invest how I want to grow that if we can use our resources wisely that we will still have a thriving economy that we can still discern between our needs and our desires and you know use things and have enough for ourselves and share what we have with others and that we can create a you know beauty in our beauty and our lives. The final principle that I truly appreciate is that idea of interconnectedness Edward Lawrence is an American mathematician and he’s a pioneer in what they call chaos theory which is way beyond the scope of my bandwidth. But what they talk about what he talks about is the idea of the butterfly effect and that each choice we make is a small change and that has a effect on something down the road. And this is where we really need to start taking a look at taking our financial power back. I think one of the challenges that we have nowadays is that we’ve gotten so disconnected with our financial choices because we can push a button or swipe a card and we are losing that intentionality and we’re losing the idea that wow when I make this choice what is the impact on somebody else. If I go into a coffee shop and the only reason is for me to get a cup of coffee. And I don’t think it through just a little bit more and. You know I am supporting these baristas that are in here and not only am I giving in exchange for something that is important for me this morning. But I now am helping them earn a living now or do I not want to spend money on a cup of coffee.

[00:32:35] Because if I put that up five or six dollars away I guess that’s a latte not a cup of coffee but if I were to put that six dollars away and set it aside for my future use and have some compounding interest on that that you know people could go out there and you can look at what the latte habit is. Over time that you know consistently saving. You’re going to be able to build up a nest egg for buying coffee down the road. What is the impact on your family of the financial choices you make. What is the impact of the investments you make on companies that are hiring people around the world and what kind of a work environment they have. I think we need to claim our financial power back. We need to understand that each one of us is an important part of the whole and that our everyday choices make they’ve got an impact on people whether it’s the barista at the coffee shop or the person that is an employee of a company halfway around the world. I love you talking about claiming your financial power back in. We do have a lot more power not only to support the things as you had just said than we might want to support but a lot of times it sounds to me like really taking perspective and supporting yourself is also vitally important. Sudano we you have just scratched the surface of what really the next year’s worth of podcasts are going to be about. Yes. So I’m going to take just a quick high level recap so for those of you who might be driving and listening to the podcast make sure that you take a moment and just hit the back button and listen to this one more time because there are so many layers.

[00:34:28] Well Daniel did today was she just kept peeling the onion peeling it until we really got to that one statement that this whole idea of her book your financial revolution which you can get a copy of. But really claiming your financial power back is a huge component of what we’re going to be talking about on the podcast any kind of closing thoughts here Danielle before we before we kind of wrap it up. Well I just want to encourage our listeners in several regards when you’re not alone. And that’s what’s exciting to me about doing these podcasts about starting to look at having different conversations around money that we all struggle with this stuff and if we can start having conversations about what financial hurdles we want to jump over to to address and being willing to being a little bit vulnerable and sharing a part of yourself with somebody close to you. How are you going to build up that trusted network. And I think as we become more vulnerable as we start being willing to talk about more than just oh my gosh you know what kind of rate of return did I get. In 2017 it was. Yeah it was a fantastic year. Great but it’s so much more than that. So let’s take a look at how can we start cultivating the conversations. What of the financial hurdles that discontent distrust and what does the other one discomfort discomfort sorry do you want to talk about with somebody yeah how do you want to start broaching that subject. And the other one I’d like for you to take away to a is your why. Why do you want to have financial health in your life. What does financial health look like to you.

[00:36:19] And let’s just have that conversation with somebody and dip your toe in the water of what it would look like to start doing our money differently. And something that I would like for everybody to do is to make sure that they click the subscribe now button right below this podcast in the podcast narrative. Our summary there will be links to Daniel’s Web site a way for you to get a copy of the book that we’re going to be talking about here for the next probably year on these podcasts. But also share this podcast with somebody who you know needs to have this conversation somebody who you know needs to at least think about money and their relationship to money in a different way so that they can they can really claim that financial power back. So for Danielle Howard this is Matt Halloran and we will see you on the other side of the mic very soon. Thank you for listening to the Wealth Done Differently Retirement Podcast click the subscribe button below to be notified when new episodes become available. The information covered and posted represents the views and opinions of the guest and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Wealth By Design LLC. The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional investing advice always seek the advice of your financial adviser or other qualified service provider with any questions you may have regarding your investment planning. Danielle Howard certified financial planner is an investment adviser representative of Cambridge Investment Research Advisors a registered investment adviser. Securities offered through Cambridge investment research Inc.

[00:38:04] A broker dealer member FINRA SIPC Cambridge and Wealth By Design LLC are not affiliated.

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Support yourself through the financial seasons of your life