Financial Planning Without Money

Can you take financial planning steps without money?  “I need money to plan with before meeting with you,” is the most popular rejection I hear when I talk to people about financial planning.  Granted, I am biased because I believe everyone can benefit from some financial planning, but I think that is a lame excuse.

Honestly, it makes me sad for you.  I don’t hear it as a rejection for me or my services, but instead I hear a person who has already given up on life.  Let me explain before you send me an angry email.

First, we must understand there is a huge difference between being content with your life and accepting your life.

For example, currently I receive assistance from the government.  The government pays for a personal care assistant to help me at home 8 hours per day.  Medicaid pays for that and, along with Medicare, my other healthcare needs.  While this is much less than the total assistance I need, these do help ease the burden of care on my family.

To receive any assistance, I must be destitute.  There are some rules that help, but I am pretty much forced to have less than $2,000 in assets.  Although there are loopholes and good people whofinancial planning try to help, sometimes it’s just easier to not have anything.

Of course, being restricted like this goes against everything I know as a financial planner.  It frustrates me to no end.  I need the government’s help to live outside of an institution, but I will never truly be independent if I stay on the system.

Unfortunately, I would need about $200,000 in annual revenue to be truly independent.  That should cover my basic needs and 24-hour nursing care.  Be sure to note that would be ten times the current resource limit and is probably a low estimate on my part.

Now, I have a loving family, food on the table, and a roof over my head.  Jesus is my savior and I’m ready to join Him when I am called, so yes, I am content with my life.  Should I accept the restrictions I face and “just get by” until my time is up?  Absolutely not!  See the difference?

Sadly, the financial services industry promotes the myth that you must have money before you can benefit from financial planning.

I am reminded of this every morning on CNBCFisher Investments clearly states in their commercial that you should only call them if you have at least $500,000 to invest.  Before you judge them, there are a couple reasons why firms do this.

First, large accounts pay the bills.  Many firms, including mine, charge a flat fee of a percentage of assets under management (AUM).  Translate this as the larger the account, the larger the fee received.  Or as Fisher Investments eloquently puts it, “We do better when our clients do better.”

Another reason could be because they already have too many clients.  Like how doctors can only see so many patients, a financial planner can only serve so many clients.  That would be a wonderful problem to have!

I plan on hiring more staff when I reach that point because I want to help as many people as possible.  Unfortunately, hiring more staff would require me to have more than $2,000 in assets to cover payroll, which would create a problem with my government assistance.

My solution is to flip the typical financial planning firm business model on its head.

Financial PlanningInstead of only working with the already wealthy, I will help you at the beginning of your financial journey.  We shouldn’t be angry at firms for only working with the rich.  The question we should ask is how the already wealthy became wealthy in the first place.

In a normal firm, clients are at or near retirement age.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s an example.  We are told to use larger fonts because older eyes usually don’t see as well.


Contrary to the messages of politicians, most of the wealthy people are not Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.  They are the kind, elderly people who make us feel at home when visiting a church.  Their wealth was built over time by putting money away during their career.  Some may have had good fortune with a stock or the lottery, but normally, their wealth was built with a slow steady commitment to a plan.

Sure, you can think that the world is different now.  We face many more expenses without a real noticeable increase in our income.  There is a lot of research contradicting these statements, but I won’t bore you with that.

I do recommend you read Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World for more information though.  I’m reading it now and it is great!  The authors can ramble a little, but don’t we all?

The question remains, “How can we possibly make ends meet today and still save for the future?”

I get it.  The thought of the future can be terrifying.  Going back to my situation, the thought of needing $200,000 in revenue each year to survive is daunting, but possible.

Sure, I may fail.  I may end up living in a facility.  It’s not where I want to be, but dwelling on it is not helpful.  I will pursue my goals for as long as I can and you should as well!

Without financial planning, you can be facing the same fate (or even worse).  Regardless of how able bodied you are now; your bodies will deteriorate over time.  I’m sorry, but it’s going to happen.  Spoiler alert!

Look at Olympic athletes.  They know their earning window is short, so they maximize their opportunity through endorsement deals, public appearances, etc.  I promise there is some financial planning going on during this time.  At least I hope they are thinking about the future, or they should be finding a new management team!

Wouldn’t it be smart for us to operate the same way?  We may earn less, and our earning period is larger, but the end game is the same.  At some point you will no longer be able to work for an income.  If you want to face that future on your own terms, then you need a financial plan.

Here are some examples of steps you can take in your financial plan before having money to invest.

First, we can work on your mindset.  A winning attitude matters in many aspects of your life, not just in athletics.  You may be doing fine managing your cash flow, but are you stuck?  Could you beFinancial Planning doing better?

Nobody is perfect.  That’s why pencils have erasers.  Our ego can be a hidden expense.  Realizing you need help can be rewarding for your wallet and your stress level.

Furthermore, learning how to manage a credit card can help your current and future financial situation.  They are one of my favorite tools considering I cannot save resources for future expenses.  Credit cards give you more time to pay bills and help you build credit.  A good credit score can save you thousands in interest when you purchase a car or home.

Finally, following the rules can save you a fortune.  Paying your bills on time avoids late fees.  Driving the speed limit saves you ticket fines, court costs, and keeps your insurance premium lower.  Sure, mistakes happen, but bad habits create unnecessary expenses.

See how easy and important that is?  And it was all done without having more money!

My subscription service may be a good option for you.

In today’s instant gratification society, it can be hard to focus on the big picture.  However, to get ahead, that’s exactly what must be done.  I try to keep you on track with my subscription service.

For a small, monthly fee, you’ll get a basic financial plan built around your goals.  I’ll be coaching you through the implementation and, hopefully, we’ll be able to start preparing for your future.

I like to tell my clients that small bricks build large houses.  Did you know that it takes anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 bricks to build a 3-bedroom home?  Imagine the bricks are $10 bills.  Individually, it’s not much, but it adds up to a nice little nest egg to supplement your retirement.

Of course, no structure will stand without a strong foundation.  Basic fundamentals are the foundation for your financial plan.  These should be learned before you have money.  Email me and let’s get to work!



Jonathan Greeson is located west of 117 and south of E. Main St.
Jonathan Greeson is located west of 117 and south of E. Main St.

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100 West Main St.
Pikeville, NC 27863