There Are No Dumb Questions When It Comes to Your Money
There are a lot of people who harbor a financial secret: They feel intimidated when it comes to money.
“One of the most common things I hear from clients is, ‘I feel like I should understand this better, or I’m embarrassed to show you this,’” says Lindsey Nichols, senior vice president and wealth management administrator for PlainsCapital Bank.
But it’s better to admit what you don’t know than to let fear of looking foolish drive you into making bad decisions. When people are afraid to ask “dumb questions,” they don’t get the information they need to make good choices, and they can get talked into the wrong financial products, says Nichols. Or they avoid money decisions altogether.
“I see this issue a lot. It generally comes in the form of paralysis,” said Nichols, who is also a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. “People are embarrassed to find themselves as intelligent, competent adults without a clue as to what to do with their money, and they’re afraid of reaching out.”
So they delay doing anything, sometimes for years. “There’s this long period of agonizing,” she says.
Afraid of looking dumb? Here’s how to prevent that fear from getting in your way:
Realize You’re Not Alone
If you feel like you should know more about managing money than you do, join the club.
Nichols meets with lots of clients who think their friends and neighbors know so much more and are doing so much better than they are when it comes to money management, “And since people hesitate to share this vulnerability, they often don’t realize that a lot of other people are in the same boat. The first thing I do with new clients is to normalize this issue, so they realize they aren’t alone,” said Nichols.
That realization can serve as a jump-start. People start to come to life when they realize they’re not the only ones who don’t know what a Roth IRA is, says Nichols.
Start with What You Know: Yourself
You may not know a lot about money management, but you probably know what you want. Think about your big goals and concerns. Once you can articulate those, it will be easier to move forward. Maybe you want to pay down student loan debt, or start a college fund for the kids or retire in 20 years.
“It’s difficult to get good advice if we ourselves don’t know what direction we want to head,” said Nichols. “Without having a sense of your own needs, it’s a little like pulling up to the drive-through and asking the order person, ‘What should I have?’”
Don’t let worry over past mistakes and inaction keep you stuck. Nichols emphasizes that it’s not about what you should have done. Look at what you can do now.
Ask Plenty of Questions
It might make sense to work with your banking financial adviser if you’re overwhelmed, dealing with a significant life event such as divorce, or just generally feeling financially insecure. A professional can help explain terms in everyday language.
Also, good advisors encourage questions.
“Along the way, nothing should be a mystery. From investments to planning, the steps should be clear and the mechanics openly discussed and easily understood,” said Nichols. “If you don’t feel comfortable asking questions, then it’s probably not a good match.”
According to Nichols, if someone is trying to sell you on an investment decision that you don’t fully understand, either ask them to explain it until you’re comfortable that you can make an informed decision, or walk away.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Everyday stressors like debt, marriage and money, balancing a budget, finding a financial advisor, and planning for retirement are issues everyone deals with. When it comes to your money, if there’s something you don’t understand or need help with, speak up! One of the smartest money strategies is simply asking.
To learn more about PlainsCapital Bank’s wealth management services or to speak with a financial advisor, visit the PlainsCapital Bank website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with a wealth management advisor.