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Running a Marathon is Easy, Planning Can Be Too

Running a marathon is often used as a metaphor for an event that is arduous, painful and ultimately, inspiring.  People who have not run one may consider it as simply overwhelming or impossible.  It’s not.  Over 500,000 runners finish a marathon every year in U.S. and Canada. Anyone can do it.  I repeat, anyone can run a marathon…if the desire is there.

The same goes for financial planning.  Everyone should have a financial plan.  The complexity of that plan is entirely dependent on the household or individual.  Not everyone needs or wants comprehensive budgets and cash flow analysis.    At its simplest form: a goal should be articulated, data gathered, analyzed and a plan proposed.  Anyone can do this.  Just like anyone can run.  But, I only ran better and more competitively when I spoke to and read the works of experts. 

As of this writing, I’m in the last stages of preparing for my twenty-fourth marathon.  I’m not an elite athlete or a record holder by any means.  There are many, many people with faster times and more completions.  I only do it because I enjoy the challenge and the sense of accomplishment.  My only competition is myself.

Running a marathon is easy.  The truly hard part is training to run a marathon.  The commitment to run consistently over the course of 8, 10, 12, or even 16 weeks is the hard part.  There are many training plans available online.  A great resource is www.marathon.guide.com.  I have learned over the years that your training approach must change and adapt to current conditions.  The plans I used in my 30’s and 40’s would be untenable in my 50’s.  One of the best resources is your local running store.  In my area, Charm City Run, has provided great guidance on shoes and training runs (www.charmcityrun.com) over the years.

Just as with training, financial planning is different when you are in your 20’s versus your 50’s.  You can afford to make mistakes in your 20’s, less so in your 50’s or 60’s.  I can no longer run the volumes of miles I did when I was younger.  I need to be more careful, so that I don’t risk injury.   Your financial plan needs to be adapted and re-visited on a regular basis.  An unbiased planner and advisor can help you see through the haze.

Non-runners may not realize how simple or complex being a runner can be.  I have gone from being a “complex” runner to a “simple” runner.  Back when I ran 5 to 6 days a week, I logged every mile and my time, as well as, the conditions and how I felt.  I obsessed about my next run and carefully planned my next race.  Now, I plan to run on certain days.  When the day comes, if I feel fine I’ll run.  If not, I’ll go another day.

Financial planning can be looked at in the same way.  A simple or complex financial plan will help you achieve your goals.  One can do it alone or use a professional.  My counsel for everyone is to do one or the other.  While, I have a bias towards using a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, it is not required.  That acknowledged, an unbiased point of view can be helpful and improve the probability of reaching your goals.

If you would like to discuss running, a portfolio strategy or financial planning, I’m happy to talk about all three.  Please feel free to share with others and make suggestions for future articles: peter.oneill@fiduciamwealth.com

Watch out traveling in Baltimore City on October 20th.  I’ll be out there running my 18th in a row Baltimore Marathon.  Wish me luck!

Peter O'Neill