Financial Wellness @ Work

Author Archives: Michael Smith

About Michael Smith

MBA, CFP®

Michael Smith is a Resident Financial Planner at Financial Finesse with over 15 years experience in financial planning and service. His primary role is in service delivery of Ask-a-Planner Days, and the Financial Helpline.

He writes weekly on the ins and outs of daily life as a financial educator.

He has an extensive background in the full service financial services, banking, accounting, and financial planning industries. He achieved the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation in 1999 and joined Financial Finesse in April 2010.

Favorite Blogs: Darwin's Finance, Zero Hedge.

Fun Fact: Played rugby for a long time & still has all his original teeth, but has had four knee reconstructions.

Favorite Quote: "Never drink a beer you can see through." -Self

Be the Pilot, Not the Engineer

One of my colleagues is hopelessly stuck in the years BC (“before children” as he explains) with his cultural references. He made a reference to the movie “Airplane” (acting as if it were a relatively new movie) and as we discussed the absurd premise of the movie, he made an interesting observation. “If I had to fly a plane, I’d rather be getting directions from a pilot than the engineer who built the plane.”  His point was that a pilot knows how to focus on what is necessary to keep the plane flying whereas the engineer may get bogged down in the details of how the plane works.  That’s how far too many people feel about their financial lives after they attend a class or read a book about finances.  Read more

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Surprising Info About “The Rich”

I love facts that challenge the conventional wisdom.  That’s why this article from US News & World Report was so enjoyable to read.  The “8 Biggest Myths About The Rich” were all things that I’ve heard people say when making assumptions about people with means.  Here’s my take on some of the myths and what I’ve seen in my career with investors most would call rich. Read more

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A Comeback Story

America loves an underdog.  I see it in sports all the time, and there are countless movies that end with the little guy triumphing over the big bad guy.As a society, we love to see someone prevailing against the odds.  I saw this article about companies that were left for dead but rebounded to find success again and it reminded me of how much we love a comeback tale in particular. Read more

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iMistake?

I read this article about Apple selling 10 Million iPhone 6′s on the first week of sales and it made me think about the number of people I see in coaching sessions who have the newest version of cool technology.  Having the latest iPhone or Galaxy or iPad or whatever the technology might be is seen as being on the leading edge.  There’s a bit of a “cool factor” involved.   Read more

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What Are Your Monkeys and Bananas?

One of the phrases my coworkers and I used a lot (at another firm during my career) in times of frustration was “monkeys and bananas.” That was our way of saying that we were operating under a bunch of constraints and no one could explain a logical or rational reason for those constraints.  “That’s the way it’s always been done…” is the beginning of an explanation that would always irritate me.  Just because something has always been done that way doesn’t mean it’s the way it should continue to be done.  So…how does that relate to monkeys and bananas???  Read more

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How Our History Can Help Us Shape Our Future

200 years ago, Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner in the Baltimore harbor near Fort McHenry.As a Baltimore guy, this past weekend was glorious.  There were thousands of people celebrating the bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner in the Baltimore area, tall ships from all over the world were in the harbor, the Blue Angels were doing aerial shows, there were fireworks and the Orioles were beating the Yankees in an important series.  (That has no bearing on the bicentennial, but it makes being in Baltimore a lot more fun.)  It was a great weekend to look back at our country’s history and reflect upon where we’ve been as a country and where we’re headed.  Read more

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Do You LUV Your Brand?

As someone who travels a lot for work, news from airlines always gets my attention.  Southwest Airlines is doing an overhaul of their logo, their paint jobs on planes, their snack bags…virtually everything associated with their brand.  We see the same images and messages all the time and after a while we stop noticing. I always think of Charlie Brown’s teacher when I hear a friend of mine threaten her kids with some form of punishment (which never happens, they still get ice cream after failing to listen to anything she says).  The same “you’re going to bed early” or “no technology if you don’t do X” or some similar thing is held out as a consequence, yet there are never consequences. In order for her kids to take her seriously or for companies to get us to pay attention again, sometimes a change is required.  Southwest is doing exactly that with their makeover of their logo and branding efforts. Read more

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Fooling Ourselves

I was scrolling through the SiriusXM radio dial while driving recently and found a song I hadn’t heard in at least 20 years.   Styx – Fooling Yourself  was playing as I was weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get home in time to meet my girlfriend at a reasonable time for sushi.  It seemed like the more I changed lanes and zoomed past a line of cars, I’d get behind a super slow car and the line of cars passed me by.   Read more

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Estate Planning After Your Will is Drafted

I talk with a lot of people who have absolutely nothing done in their estate planning efforts.No will, no medical directives, nothing. So, I spend a lot of time talking about what would make up the standard “Estate Planning 101” package that they could have an attorney draft.  The basic documents that nearly everyone should have in place are a will, powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions, and advance medical directives.  With these basic documents in place, most people could check “estate planning” off of their to do list.  But, to dig a layer deeper, what are some things that you can do after you’ve signed your basic documents, never to look at them again? Read more

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Worst Thing Ever

Occasionally, I’ll be in a conversation with a group of people and will throw out a random phrase and everyone has to give a quick response to it.  Recently, the phrase I threw out to the group at happy hour was “Worst Thing Ever.” One of my friends, without hesitation, blurted out “New York Yankees fans!” As the group was made up of lifelong Baltimore Orioles fans, we all agreed that Yankees fans can be obnoxious but they aren’t the worst thing ever…close, but not quite.  Read more

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