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“Why we will all benefit from getting comfortable being uncomfortable” with Patti Black & Jason Hartman

I’ll say it again: get comfortable being uncomfortable. You might want to get comfortable being uncomfortable talking to your aging parents about whether they have a will, power of attorney and advance healthcare directive in place as well as where those documents are located. Because talking about finances is not a one and done conversation, […]


I’ll say it again: get comfortable being uncomfortable. You might want to get comfortable being uncomfortable talking to your aging parents about whether they have a will, power of attorney and advance healthcare directive in place as well as where those documents are located. Because talking about finances is not a one and done conversation, your next “money talk” with your parents might cover where they keep usernames and passwords and how they pay bills. These conversations can be difficult, but there’s great peace of mind from having this information before a crisis occurs.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Patti Black of Bridgeworth, LLC. Patti has more than 20 years of experience helping affluent clients align their goals and their money. This work is especially important in times of transition such as starting a family, sending children to college, changing jobs, or retiring. Patti develops a customized financial plan that incorporates the clients’ needs, wants, and wishes while addressing employee benefits, income tax, insurance, investments, cash flow, and estate planning. Patti is confident that the advice she gives is objective and geared towards her clients’ best interests. Patti leads Bridgeworth University, the firm’s education and mentoring program for newer advisors. She serves on the marketing committee and regularly contributes to national publications including Forbes, US News and World Reports, Financial Planning, Investment News, Market Watch, and the Breaking Money Silence podcast. Patti and her husband have teenage twins and are active in their church. https://bridgeworthfinancial.com/our-people/patti-b-black/


Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

I was in college but was not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was looking through the course catalogue, which was a printed publication about as big as “War and Peace,” and saw an introductory class in personal financial planning. I decided to take the class as an elective because I thought the information would be personally helpful. I learned a lot, most importantly, I learned that financial planning was a career where I could help others with their money questions.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that happened to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

In one of my meetings as a young financial planner, I was surprised by the unhappiness of a client who seemingly “had it all.” He was a neurologist earning over $1,000,000 a year with a home that could have been featured in House Beautiful, several fast German sports cars, and a travel budget that allowed for multiple Instagram worthy vacations each year. Dr. Smith (not his real name) wasn’t just unhappy, though, he was miserable. He did not enjoy his work, he was overweight with chronic health problems, and he had difficult relationships with his children from his first marriage. I was so puzzled because what I saw in Dr. Smith contradicted a belief that many of us hold: money can buy happiness. My take-away from that experience is that money can be used to make you happier if you prioritize time over money. For example, I have some other (happier) clients who prioritized time by moving to a condominium where several close friends also live. While their condo fees are higher than the expenses they had when they owned a home, they appreciate not having to do lawn work and routine home maintenance. They use their “extra” time to volunteer at a local medical clinic and literacy organization and to meet their neighbors regularly for supper.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I interviewed my retired clients to ask what they wished they had known prior to retirement. Many of their responses focused on the non-financial side of retirement and I took that information and developed a presentation on how to have a smooth transition to retirement. My hope is that this information will help pre-retirees think more about what their life will be like in retirement. I want them to visualize a life in retirement that will be satisfying and fulfilling because then it will be easier for them to take the steps to get there.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

We’re uncomfortable talking about money! We read to our children because we understand the importance of literacy, but too many people don’t talk to their kids about money. Parents may decide to keep quiet because they are not be confident in their own financial knowledge or perhaps they are embarrassed by their own money mistakes.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

1. Parents can increase their own financial literacy by reading books like The Millionaire Next Door, The Opposite of Spoiled and The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. At the same time, parents can start the money conversation with young children by helping them understand the difference between a need and a want. You need fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. You want the Kit Kat bar at the check-out counter.

2. For elementary school age children, you can give your child an allowance and make clear what things he is required to pay for with the allowance. If your son blows all his allowance on Legos at Target and then does not have enough money to buy ice cream in the school cafeteria, do not bail him out! Let the $10 mistake prevent the $100+ mistake down the road.

3. As kids get to high school, you can move on to discuss more complex topics like paying for college. 18-year-olds need to see what their monthly student loan debt payment would be and how that amount compares to their projected income and expenses after college. How long will it take to pay off the student loan if only the minimum payment is made? What options are available to reduce the cost of a college degree?

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart Investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

1. Don’t give up; stay invested. The people who got hurt in the 2008 market crash were the ones who gave up on investing only to see the market have the longest bull run in history.

2. Keep your focus on your diversified investments and not on the talking heads on tv who predict what the market is going to do today or tomorrow. Spoiler alert: no one knows. Ignore the noise and keep investing. Think of buying stock mutual funds/ETFs when the market is going down as buying when they are on sale. The stock market is one of the few places that people like to buy when it’s at “full price” and we need to get out of that mindset.

3. Focus on yourself and not on others. Ignore your best friend’s brother-in-law who has a “hot” stock tip that he says will make you a millionaire before your next birthday.

4. Know the why behind your investment account. Is it for retirement in 30 years? A new house in 3 years? Your child’s college in 10 years? These goals have very different time horizons and thus each should have a different investment strategy. For example, the money for a new house may be better suited to a savings account that is earning some interest so you know the money will be there when you need it. The money for your retirement may be better invested in more stock mutual funds/ETFs than in bond mutual funds/ETFs because of the longer time until that money will be needed.

5. Cash is not a good long-term investment. If you’re earning 1% on your savings and inflation is 2%, you’re losing money over the long term.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband, Doug, helps me laugh and maintain sanity when life gets hard. And life often does get hard when you are raising twin teenagers and helping care for aging parents. He does so many things to help including taking over all parental and household responsibilities for a week so my 87-year-old Dad, sisters and I could take a father-daughter trip the past 2 summers. After my Mom died, it became very important to make new memories with my Dad and sisters.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, otherwise, you may not be growing. “When you stop growing, you start dying” (William S. Burroughs). I was uncomfortable making the decision to leave the advisory firm where I worked for 20 years when it was being acquired by a larger company, but, in hindsight, I can see how I had become stagnant. Since joining Bridgeworth, I’ve had to learn new software, processes and procedures. I’ve also learned new ways to grow my client base. It’s been exary (exciting and scary!) and I’m thankful to be growing again.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ll say it again: get comfortable being uncomfortable. You might want to get comfortable being uncomfortable talking to your aging parents about whether they have a will, power of attorney and advance healthcare directive in place as well as where those documents are located. Because talking about finances is not a one and done conversation, your next “money talk” with your parents might cover where they keep usernames and passwords and how they pay bills. These conversations can be difficult, but there’s great peace of mind from having this information before a crisis occurs.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

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