Working Wealthy – Unlucky or Unprepared?

February 27, 2018

This January that peculiar little light lit up on my dashboard and, sure enough, my driver’s side rear tire was flat.

Fortunately, when this happened I was only blocks away from a gas station. I was in luck! The gas station had an air pump (and it was working), but that’s where the good news ended.

I checked my car for spare change to operate the air pump. No coinage. No worries, I’ll just get some cash with my ATM card, as I had no cash, and I’ll get change from the gas station clerk. Yep, you guessed it. No ATM card.

I walk up to the gas station clerk. This is the type of gas station that uses a little sliding tray so you can’t in any way come in contact with the clerk through the inch-thick pane of unbreakable glass.

I share my plight with the clerk and ask him to charge my credit card for a small amount so he can give me two quarters to use the air pump. His response, “I can’t do that—I could lose my job”. Entirely reasonable response.

Instead, without me even asking, he slides me two quarters through the bulletproof glass. I was floored. He even offered to give me more if the pump wouldn’t take the quarters he already gave me.

I thanked him profusely and hustled off to put air in my tire. His kindness reminded me that there was a lesson here. I kept running through how this experience is related to how we help BDF clients prepare for the future—and how I came up short with my flat tire preparedness but benefited from sheer luck.

Plan for even the smallest details – or for me, keep some change in the car. Whether it’s planning out your spending or focusing on the tax impact of an investment decision, we should be helping clients understand how even the smallest details can make a big difference.

We see this all the time when clients think small amounts of savings won’t move the needle on their overall plan, and it turns out that even nominal saving can significantly improve the success of a plan.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – and I didn’t even need to; I just got lucky. However, in the broader context of planning, asking for help means understanding everything that’s happening in the market, with your plan and your long-term outlook for success. Our job is to help you maintain that understanding and add to it over time.

As markets get tumultuous and you feel anxious, give your wealth manager a call and let them know what you’re thinking about and what might be worrying you. We’re here to help.

Reflect on what’s going right – I was ready to assume the entire universe was working against me with this flat tire. Meanwhile I should have noticed the things that were going right (proximity to a gas station, functioning air pump, empathetic attendant, etc.).

Practically speaking, rather than focusing on the possibility that the market could go down or taxes could go up, we should celebrate that the past nine years have been fantastic for portfolios and we can plan for all types of tax scenarios.

It’s our job to help you remember these ideas and put them into practice in helping you shape your future.

Nick Cosky, CFP® is a Wealth Manager and Owner at BDF and is responsible for educating and introducing prospective clients that are considering hiring BDF for their wealth management needs. In previous roles, Nick has served as the head of BDF’s Financial Planning Committee and has participated on the Business Owner Team and Women’s Service Team. Nick is passionate about the planning that BDF does for its clients and enjoys every aspect of the client-advisor relationship. Nick graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English. He is a CFP® professional and is a member of the Auxiliary Board at the Art Institute of Chicago.