Are You Prepared to Make These Difficult Decisions?

Financial jargon can be complex, to the extreme that we often avoid the topic in daily life. But the time will come when we’ll need to make some smart money choices for ourselves and our families.

At some point, we’ll need to…

– Discuss personal finances and donations to charity with our family

– Decide how and/or whether to hire a financial planner

– Determine our legacy through living wills, planning an estate and choosing our beneficiaries

Rather than making these important decisions at the last minute, or when it’s too late, there’s an easier way to educate ourselves and make smarter choices that fit our lifestyle. “Simon Says: Love Your Legacy” by Saul Simon makes these conversations approachable and easy to understand. Below is an excerpt from the book, helping savers and spenders choose better strategies for reaching their long-term financial goals.

To continue reading, check out “Simon Says: Love Your Legacy” here.

Simon Says: Are You a Saver or a Spender?

There’s an old saying, “If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re obviously shopping in the wrong place.”

When you’re ready to make long-range financial plans, it’s worthwhile to step back for a moment and think about what money really means to you. Is it a piece of paper to exchange with a merchant for something to make you happy? Is it a sign of security—the more money you have, the more secure you will feel? Is it like play money on a board game—it’s fun to collect it and see if you can get more than all the other players?

For most of us, money isn’t just money. It’s a symbol. It stands for some value, some belief, something other than a piece of paper or a little plastic card. How you think about money says a lot about you—your upbringing, your competitive nature, your need for security, your need for admiring groupies who want to share your wealth.

But there’s a more important question than what does money mean to you?

If you’re a saver, you know that, at the end of the month, you can most likely pay your bills. You may not have the best clothes, the flashiest car, the mansion on the hill, but you have no debts other than perhaps a mortgage and a car payment. You have a nest egg that provides you and your family with financial security.

If you’re a spender, you know that, at the of the month, you won’t know where your last paycheck went, your credit cards will be charged up to the maximum, and you’ll have very little if anything in your savings account.

It’s difficult to change yourself from a spender to a saver, or from a saver to a spender. It’s your business which one you are, [and]…no one needs to know your personal business—except your financial planner.

The long-term financial goals of a saver and a spender can be very similar, but the strategies to achieve them are very different.

Example: Keep it simple. You’re a saver. I tell you to open a brokerage account having a mutual fund that will accept deposits of as little as $25 a week. You open the account. You put the $25 in each week. It’s a good strategy for you because you’re a saver.

If I make the same suggestion to a spender, he or she might get around to opening the account, but it’s very unlikely that the weekly deposits of $25 will ever be made, or they will be made only after all of the other bills and expenses have been taken care of.

This is a bad strategy because the spender won’t implement it.

Elsewhere in this book I talk about taking an equity line of credit on your home—having the account available in case you have a financial emergency. Would I recommend that strategy to a saver? Probably. Would I recommend it to a spender? Probably not. The available credit will be used on non-necessities, most likely, and our spender will then have mortgage and equity credit line payments to make each month.

I always spend time talking with each new client about goals and to determine if he or she is a spender or a saver. I want to be able to design the right plan for each client, and more importantly, I want some assurance that the client will follow the plan.

I said earlier that it’s your business whether you’re a spender or saver. Probably in your day-to-day life it doesn’t matter which one; you’ve grown accustomed to spending or saving and you may find it difficult to change. However, you have to take full responsibility for yourself and your finances.” (pp.89-91)


This excerpt from “Simon Says: Love Your Legacy” by Saul Simon has been posted with permission from the author.

Categories: Best Practices FINANCES general Goal Setting Legacy Lessons Learned


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