Big Ideas From Small Packages

Matthew Cuplin |

Perspective can come to you in the most unusual of places, and for me most recently, it came from the family suite of my local hospital following the birth of my third daughter. It’s probably no surprise that moments like that offer you a reason to pause for self-discovery, and that’s exactly what I found myself doing at 3:42 a.m. on July 9, 2019, unable to sleep mere hours after my child was born.

I’ve been blessed that my wife and I have three amazing little girls. I can’t help but think about what lessons I want to impart on them as they grow, but in doing so that night, my train of thought quickly shifted to what they’ve taught me already in their young lives (yes, even the little one who was only hours old). I tell my clients all the time to have a plan. And the basic core belief of that plan is to tune out the noise that can exist in their financial worlds and to focus instead on the things that really matter. These things go beyond just numbers and account values that can be seen on statements or indexes. They are things that are not always easily quantifiable, such as family, friends, values, beliefs, love, health and time. The following are some of the lessons my daughters have taught me about these unquantifiables, along with how you can apply those lessons to your life, too.

Alyssa (age 4), my first, taught me the importance of balance. When she was born, I found myself in a situation I knew nothing about — being a parent. I felt like I had no control, and to be honest, I felt a bit helpless. Instead of diving headfirst into that new challenge, I dove straight back into work, where I felt a sense of belonging and comfort. It took me a while to realize that was not the right balance of things to keep my world healthy. There’s nothing like having a child to help put your priorities in perspective. Once I figured this out, I found that my life, my marriage and my abilities as a father could improve exponentially when I focused on spreading my time and energy in a much more well-dispersed way. As with everything in life, balance and moderation are key. I encourage everyone to seek that equilibrium in all areas. It's no secret that if your personal life is struggling at home, your professional life can often follow suit, and vice versa. The same goes for finances. When people worry about their finances, that concern and mental output negatively impact other areas of your life. Things can quickly get out of balance. That is why I stress having a plan. I believe it can provide you peace of mind and a guide map to making sure you feel in control of where you are going financially, and also provide you with steps along the way to get there while ensuring you are staying balanced in your pursuit of it along the way. The alternative is not having a plan, and the ambiguity that allows for in your future can be very unnerving for most people. People want structure and balance, and planning helps to proactively try and accomplish that.

Hannah (age 3), taught me to be present in the moment. With two young children at home, life quickly turned into a “triage unit” in which my wife and I would spend our days and nights simply keeping things afloat. It became increasingly difficult to enjoy the ride of parenthood together when milestones would come and go, as we barely ever seemed to find time to be in the moment. Eventually, that led us to making sure we created date nights for us and special events with the kids that would pull us out of our normal routine. As it’s been said before, the journey is the reward. No matter what stage you are at in life, I would challenge you to slow your world down and focus on making sure “your head is where your feet are.” As it applies to your financial journey, it's important to understand that you cannot get there overnight, and it's a long road to retirement, which then continues through retirement as well. Do not stress about where you are at today if it is not where you ultimately want to be. More so, focus on what you have to do, day by day, year by year, to get where you want to go. You have to ask yourself what indulgences you can afford today, and how that impacts your planning for the future.

That brings me to my third, my newborn Madelyn. I’m writing this from my home office today, and she lies nearby, quietly cooing across the room. With her, I cannot help but think about the value of time — the only real commodity you cannot simply make more of. I’ve seen how quickly it can pass as we get up, go to work, come home and repeat. I’ve decided to take a full month out of the office this time, focusing on what I feel is most important right now: my girls and my wife. I encourage you to often take stock of what's truly important to you and surround yourself with those things when you can. My mentor once shared with me that people should strive to be “bearers of good news” to those they serve and to focus on the positives. I would encourage you to take a few moments every day to do just that. Take stock of the lessons learned from your own journey. And if nothing else, remember to find your balance, be present in the moment and understand the value of time.

The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.