Alexa’s Story: How Financial Planning Gave ME a New Perspective

You might expect that, as the founder of LearnVest, I have my finances in order. And you’d be right about that, but everyone has something to work on, myself included. For me, the questions arose this year, as I am getting married and have never combined my finances with someone else before.

Here’s why this is at the top of my mind right now:

Since I always believe in practicing what I preach, we gave a bona fide, in-depth session with Certified Financial Planners to everyone on the LearnVest staff. After all, I want all of our employees to feel confident in their finances, too. I went into my own planning session knowing I had my financial life extremely buttoned up already (personal finance expert and money nerd that I am), but I was truly impressed more than I expected.

My financial planning session gave me a new perspective on my future, so much so that I felt genuinely compelled to write a story on this to let readers know about my experience.

What We Discussed at My Session

Being who I am (I did start a website to help women gain control over their money, after all), I already had a super detailed personal financial plan covering the next ten years of my life. I’ve always been diligent about my finances. I mean, I seriously save for retirement like a chipmunk.

What I didn’t have, though, was a detailed guide for combining my finances with my fiancé; we talk about money all the time and have excellent communication, but haven’t yet actually combined our money. Before our conversation with the planner, we had only roughly discussed our ten-year savings goals, how we plan to pay for our children’s college and what we’ll do to maximize our joint retirement. And those are just examples of the many things we need to discuss to have our best future together.

So, the Certified Financial Planners sat down and helped us outline not just what each of us should be doing but how we’ll manage our goals together. In addition to helping us double-check our pre-existing plans to make sure we hadn’t missed any steps, they reaffirmed all the things we already knew to be true (which feels great, any way you cut it). They gave us a concrete and practical plan, complete with projections for the future on where we’ll be if we continue on our current charted course.

We got to dream for our futures and then check that against reality. How many kids do we want to have? … And that costs how much?! We want to buy a home, but with how many bedrooms? And so on. For our specific situation, the big to-dos involved rolling over an IRA, reallocating our assets jointly and getting health proxies for each other.

What This Meant to Me

In short? A lot.

I went into the meeting and got a second pair of incredible, intelligent and reaffirming eyes on my situation. In a manner of speaking, I felt stronger after this discussion.

My fiancé and I were already aligned in terms of our priorities and vision for the future, but now we’re aligned in a practical way. We have an exact game plan of how to get there. I know exactly how long it will take us to save up for a home, how much money to save for future children and precisely where it’s going to come from, and I see our entire future before me. Rather than pensive excitement, I’m left with nothing but pure, undiluted anticipation.

I was walking to work the other day and, as I strode down the street, I thought, “I feel great! That session fundamentally improved my outlook!” The whole idea behind LearnVest is that we’re here to help you with your money so you can get on with the real living, and that’s how I felt. Now, I can focus on my health, on my company, on my friends and family—I don’t have to devote any mental space to whether and how I’ll accomplish my financial goals in the future. I have a plan, so now I’ve just got to stick to it.

It occurred to me, too, that if I felt this liberated after my session—and I’m someone who’s already compulsively attentive to her finances—that it would feel really incredible for everyone who isn’t the founder of a personal finance company.

If a financial planning session sounds like something that would make you feel liberated, too, you can check out LV’s affordable ways to talk to a Certified Financial Planner.

There’s my story. Let me know what you think in the comments, below.