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  • Writer's pictureSteven Schoenberger

The Grass is Always Greener

I am color blind, so I am not exactly sure what the opposite of a green thumb is, but that’s what I have. While I do not mind the yard work, or spending time outdoors, I simply have no aptitude for it. While this is not generally a big deal, I happen to live on a block where every house around me seems to be occupied by either an award winning gardener or amateur landscape artist. Do you live on a block like that?

The other day, however, as I walked up to my house, I thought to myself, “gee, my yard looks pretty good.” Then, as I got to my door and turned back, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My lush green yard now looked like a bed of dry dirt, with small clumps of grass sprinkled throughout it. Nothing had changed, other than my perspective.

I hope by this point the analogy is obvious. But, I’ll spell it out anyway. We often compare our own financial situation to those around us, it is hard not too. Things often look pretty good for our neighbor next door, but often that is simply because we are looking at their situation from one perspective, and our own from another.

Keeping the right perspective is another reason why working with the right advisor is so important.

Let’s stick with the green grass metaphor. An obvious explanation actually demonstrates why, to a certain extent this adage is true. When we glance out across a lawn, we are seeing dense grass simply due to the fact that our eyes see blade, behind blade, behind blade. This creates the illusion that the whole lawn is green.

Here’s a picture of my lawn from the street in front of my house. Looks pretty good, right?

This is the view everyone else has, and the one I rarely have.

Contrast that with the view I have while standing at the front door, looking back at the exact same lawn!

Because the view is much more vertical, rather than horizontal, I can see each dead patch and issue spot.

As you can imagine, when it comes to our own perspective, whether with landscaping, financial planning, or otherwise, it is hard to ignore our intimate view and remember the long view from across the way. The proliferation of social media, invent of “influencers”, and trend of “wealth as celebrity” only makes matters worse.

We see a shiny new car, but are ignorant of the extra hours in the office. We hear about a fantastic vacation, but are unaware of the trimmed expenses. We make assumptions about how others can afford certain things, but feel every struggle of our own finances. We’ve seen dozens of pictures of smiling families on the beach, but almost none of the tantrums that led to that moment, or frustrated parents when there is sand in a child’s eye.

As a financial advisor, our role is twofold (at least). First, to mix botanical metaphors, our job is to remind clients to stop and smell the roses. Second, we know that the grass is greenest where it is watered, so we help clients focus on tending to their own financial lives. We do this through a combination of investment, budget, and tax strategies, but we also incorporate values, goals, and behavioral coaching into the process. Aligning these items with one another, is also how we make sure that we are focusing on what really matters.

If you actually need help with your lawn, Open Door Financial is NOT the right place to go. But, if you want to have a better perspective on your financial plan please give us a call. While we may not be able to change your perspective overnight, we think we can be a part of your plan to see the forest for the trees!

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