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Cello, Goodbye

  • By Curtis Hearn
  • January 10, 2024

Making New Year’s Resolutions In The Context Of Your Financial Plan

In May 2021, Glauber Contessoto had just experienced a “rags-to-riches” success story that many only dream of. Just three months prior, he went “all in” and invested his entire life savings, a total of $188,000, into a little known cryptocurrency called Dogecoin when it was valued at around 5 cents per coin. After the coin went “viral” due at least partly to an endorsement by Elon Musk, his investment skyrocketed to almost $3 million​​.

It’s worth pausing to consider how life-changing this must have been. Before this, the 32-year-old was, in many ways, an average American. He didn’t come from money, nor did he have a career making a massive income. To become a multi-millionaire at such a young age is truly extraordinary, especially when you think about how much more time his nest egg had to grow.  Assuming he just achieved average stock market returns from there, he could have easily been worth over $100 million at retirement… if only he had known when to lock in his gains and diversify.

However, against the advise of many, Contessoto chose not to cash out. He had used all his savings and even his credit card to go “all in,” and wore that commitment as a badge of honor in the online Dogecoin community. True believers, he reported, adhered to the “diamond hands” investment strategy, meaning you hold on through thick and thin, no matter what. Unfortunately for Contessoto, the value of Dogecoin very quickly came back down to earth.

After a rapid decline of over 90% from its all-time high, Contessoto’s position fell back to the value of his original purchase price, and has traded in that range ever since. Thankfully for Contessoto, he did not lose everything and is still young enough to recover from this experience, but certainly he will look back and rue this extraordinary opportunity.

New Years Resolutions, Hold The Chagrin Please

If you’re anything like me, the annual ritual of setting New Years resolutions typically brings mixed emotions. As I reflect on the New Year and the goals I want to set, I am often reminded of the previous year and how far I fell short. It’s always the missed opportunities and goals that stick in my mind, and it’s easy to wonder if I should even bother. After all, what’s the point of setting goals if I know I won’t hit them?

If that’s you, congratulations, you are human like the rest of us. As difficult as it can be, it’s important not to dwell on the letdowns of the previous year. Dwelling on the past only takes away precious moments that could be used planning (and acting) for the future.

“You know what the happiest animal on earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory.”—Ted Lasso

Why Setting Goals Can Be Helpful

In the context of financial goals, now is a great time to revisit your financial plan, or perhaps begin the financial planning process for the first time. Shameless plug here, but an experienced, credentialed CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can help you create that plan, and then break down the action steps into concrete, achievable goals for the year ahead.

After all, without a comprehensive, long-term plan, how do you know what to focus on first? It’s easy rattle off a long list of things that, in a perfect world, we all should be doing with our finances: paying off debt, budgeting every dollar, saving towards retirement, optimizing our portfolios, tax planning, etc.

And, typically the things that first things that come to mind are the areas we struggled most with in the previous year. But, as the saying goes, you can’t drive forward by looking through the rearview mirror.

No one can do everything (although you probably should have a fiduciary advisor who is taking care of many of those crucial functions for you). That’s where prioritization comes into play, and how do you know how to prioritize your financial goals without a long-range financial plan?

Setting Financial Goals In The Context Of A Long-Range Financial Plan

Having a long-range financial plan in place crystalizes the action items needed over the short, medium, and long-term. Why? Because part of the planning process is exploring the alternative, “what if” scenarios that can often distract, cause doubt, or discourage action.

For example, I once had a client who planned to retire at the end of the year, and was feverishly working and saving towards that goal. She had been working hard and saving for a long time, and was ready to embrace the next stage of her life with the freedom that retirement brings.

However, lately she had come across a number of articles online about Social Security strategies and was wondering what hers should be. Should she take it early at a lower amount or wait until “full retirement age?” Or perhaps she should combine her Social Security strategy with another tax planning strategy, such as a Roth conversion? There are a ton of different strategies, and they all have their pros and cons.

Now, as a veteran CFP with 20 years experience, I knew that all of these questions were secondary to her following the basic structure of her retirement plan in terms of savings goals, retirement date, spending goals and investment strategy. It’s not that they don’t matter, they certainly do, but they just don’t move the needle in the same way.

However, when we got together to meet, the first thing I did was show her those “what if” scenarios that had been bouncing around in her brain. It took maybe 15 minutes, but I could tell it did wonders for her in terms of refocusing back on the most important things.

So, if you find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper with the words “Financial Goals” written across the top, you might consider starting first with a conversation with an experienced CFP professional. He or she can help you get a comprehensive wealth management plan in place, explore “what if” scenarios, and then prioritize and implement your plan into practical action items that will move you closer to your goals.

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Client Service Manager

Gabby Diaz

As a Client Service Manager, Gabby focuses primarily on providing a “white glove” client experience as she acts as a liaison between the financial institutions and our clients. In this vital role, Gabby facilitates a wide range of client needs, including onboarding, account maintenance, client scheduling, money movements, and more.

Gabby’s commitment to excellence, proficiency in technology tools, and dedication to serving her clients makes her a valuable asset to Symphony Wealth. “Each client that I work with can expect to be treated with respect and know that I will perform to the best of my ability each day throughout the entirety of our relationship.”

Gabby attended Georgia State University and is a big supporter of the Braves baseball team. For the past three years, she has volunteered at the Shepherd Center Derby Day which is a fundraising event for their Recreation Therapy Program. When she’s not working, Gabby enjoys traveling and working on home improvement projects.

Founder and President

Curtis Hearn, MBA, CFP®, CEPA®

In His Own Words…

If I’m completely honest, when I first stepped into the financial industry over 20 years ago, I did so with a great deal of trepidation. Deep down, I felt a small tinge of resignation in trading in my idealistic dreams of being a high school teacher for the cold and impersonal world of finance. And the first several years did little to encourage me, as I learned the hard way that conflicts of interest are rampant in the industry. Sadly, the ways in which the advisor community can abuse the trust of clients are as numerous as the number of products that they sell.

Then, just as I was ready to quit the industry, I was introduced to the “fee-only” advisor community—a whole new approach to financial advice. There I found an environment in which clients and advisors work together to reach the client’s goals, and where conflicts of interest are eliminated. I also found a peaceful, collegiate atmosphere, where advisors work together on the client’s behalf, rather than in cutthroat competition. On top of all that, I was blessed to work alongside and be mentored by one of the most insightful and experienced advisors in the country. Under Jon Houk’s tutelage, I’ve found a passion for teaching again, only this time by helping executives, business owners, and retirees break down complex financial problems into simple decisions. I get the satisfaction of helping them stride forward with confidence towards the future, even as the markets and political world shifts around them.

Over the last two decades, I completed an MBA, obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, and added exit planning (including the in-depth CEPA certification) for business owners to my service offerings. I’ve also started three businesses, exited one personally, and helped numerous clients through their own business exits as well. I am an incorrigible serial entrepreneur at heart, and I love working with that same community. I also enjoy working with executives and retirees to help them plan for retirement, invest prudently, and leave a legacy worthy of their hard work and reputation.