What if you had an owner’s manual for your money?
Hold that thought…
Just a few days ago, I was thinking about this idea.
It was about canaries, check engine lights, and “warning systems” in general.
But what happens when the klaxon (or light, or bell, or whatever…) on your warning system goes off?
What do you do next?
Well, depending on what “system” the warning is for, you might simply need to flip a breaker in your basement.
Or you might need to replace the 9-volt in your smoke alarm.
You might need to replace a gas cap on your car, like I did in the story linked above.
Or maybe it’s more involved…
Maybe you need to partially dismantle your washing machine to replace the water pump (yes, I’ve done this).
Or you need to search YouTube for how-to videos to fix this or that.
Prior to Google and the endless library of YouTube videos, I would often first go to the owner’s manual.
Whether it was a vehicle, an appliance, or some electronic gadget, the owner’s manual was often the best first place to start diagnosing what was wrong.
And hopefully finding a fix.
There is usually a section in most owner’s manuals called “troubleshooting.”
It’s often toward the back of the manual, near the appendices and the index.
Even today, despite all of the easily available online content, I still sometimes reference the owner’s manual to double check something.
It makes me feel a little less anxious to know that there may be something I can do to fix things. Or make them better. Or at least stop the warning light / beep / siren from continuing.
But what about with your money?
Do you have an owner’s manual for your money?
What do you do when something happens that you didn’t plan for?
Do you start tinkering with your investments?
Do you start slashing all discretionary spending?
Do you feel anxious? Maybe a little helpless?
Well, I have good news…
Many of you reading this already have an owner’s manual for your money.
Yep, you guessed it… it’s your personal financial plan.
No, maybe it doesn’t have a “troubleshooting” guide. And you can’t simply order a replacement part from Amazon to easily get things back on track.
But it can help you focus on the things within your control.
It can help you take a step back and give you context around what today may (or may not) mean for your tomorrow.
And unlike many owner’s manuals, it’s not meant to reference only when there’s an issue. It’s not meant to sit on a shelf or in your glove box to be dusted off when a problem arises.
If you take that approach, it stops becoming YOUR financial plan and it’s nothing more than a one-time financial analysis.
So, if you’re feeling – or have felt – particularly anxious or nervous or helpless in the last few weeks with uncertainty cranked all the way up, go back to your financial plan.
You may find you’re still OK. In fact, you may find you’re in great shape.
And if you’re not where you want to be, you can see what adjustments need to be made to ease your concerns, make the figurative warning system stop making noise, and get on with the things in life that are most important to you.