The things we hear in our office can be enlightening. I did not know there is a “dog hotel” near Indianapolis, that there are eagle nests near Hoosier Prairie Elementary School, or that some clients like to zip-line and snorkel while on cruises. I also did not know about the mayonnaise jar under the bed. Oh, I’ve heard of putting money under the mattress, but had missed the mayonnaise jar until I heard someone say, “Don’t tell Frank, this was our secret money.”
And so it begins, the “secret money.” The money held in the mayonnaise jar, or the cookie jar, or wrapped in aluminum foil and put, literally, into the freezer like a steak waiting for the summer grill. The idea of having this secret money that Frank (or Kyle, Sonya, Jody, or I) don’t know about and can’t reach always strikes me as funny. If there is one thing we always try to say to our clients, “It’s your money, we are just giving you our best advice.” We will not come to your house, strip off the sheets, and look for the mayonnaise jar. I promise. I have a hard enough time getting that done at my own house.
But — (ah yes, that dreaded word) BUT, we cannot give you advice on what we do not know. For example, if we are studying your retirement plan and trying to meet your income needs without moving you into a higher tax bracket it would be helpful to know that you just renewed a CD at the bank or that you have a large sum in your checking account. Financial and estate planning cannot be complete or accurate if you do not provide all of the details, always wanting to keep something from us. Again, I promise, what is hidden in your sock drawer will stay hidden. That bank CD will still be at the bank as long as you want it there and we will not raid your checking account.
Why ask us for our advice and not give us complete information with which to analyze? Then, like a bolt of lightening, it hits me. You think we will insist you bring all of your money to us. While I must say that is a brilliant idea, we realize that some people might want flexibility and lack of accountability with some small portion of their money. In our household, I have some money that is mine, all mine. (Envision evil laugh and hands rubbing together!) I do not need to tell Frank what I spend it on, where it goes, or how much is left of my mad money. I have heard clients say they just don’t want to “have to ask Frank for money.”
I do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but Frank isn’t your dad. You have every right to spend your money. Again, we are trying to do what you pay us to do – give you advice. If and when we see anything that we believe would be damaging to your over-all financial health, I know you want us to inform you. I would not let a child run into the street any more than I would let a client withdraw 20% of their nest egg without a strong warning of the danger. Believe it or not, your financial health keeps us up at night. If we have a client that we believe has a financial problem, we struggle to find solutions for them, even when the answers are clearly out of our hands. That is why you come to us. You want honesty and you want advisors who will work for you, fight to keep you out of danger, and give you the best advice possible.
The mayonnaise jar is safe under the bed. We will not look for it or take it from you. All we ask is that you consider letting us know how much is in it so we can give you the most accurate advice possible. We trust that you are giving us the best information regarding your finances and we know you are counting on us for honest advice.
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