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The Art of What's (Financially) Possible


How many times have you heard "it's not possible"? How many times have you been the one to say it?

My family and I recently moved across the country to a place where the cost of living is almost twice as much as it was where we lived before. I spent two years telling my husband it wasn't possible to move. It was too risky. It was too expensive. I tried to put together a financial plan that would show it made financial sense to move. And guess what? There isn't one. But here we are anyway. 

Now that we're here, I certainly worry about how we are going to afford to stay here. I also worry about saving for our future goals and whether we will ever be able to afford to own a home again. But I also live 15 minutes from the ocean. My kids get to come home every evening and play outside, and I'm pretty sure I will never get them to wear pants and long sleeves again.

Too many times we look at money as a constraint on our life situation. When we just focus on the money angle, it's easy to write something off as not being possible. But what if we're wrong? What if, instead, we look at money as an enabler? What if we take stock of what we have and see how it can enable something to actually be possible? 

In my practice, I hear a lot of "it's not possible". In fact, I would say that many people think financial planners are here to constrain their choices to bring about the optimal financial outcomes. They think financial planners are there to tell them what they can't do or spend. So they come in with the mindset that they need to constrain themselves, and tell me what's not possible. It's not possible to quit their day job and start that business they've been dreaming of. It's not possible to change careers to something more fulfilling, but less lucrative.

This is where the art comes into it. Instead of focusing on the numbers of their current reality, I lead clients through what their future reality looks like. Can they live on one income? Can they make changes to their lifestyle to live on less? What other tradeoffs are they willing to make?

Oftentimes, the numbers will try and tell you that something's not possible. What gives me confidence in ignoring them sometimes is that they don't tell you the whole story. You can't quantify spending more time with your kids, being healthier, or following your dreams. You can't know if that dream you have today will turn into a profitable business in the future, or that new career will lead your life in directions you could have never planned for.

Look at where you are today. Have you been telling yourself something isn't financially possible? Give yourself permission to plan for the future you want, not the future you think is possible.