It’s time for me to come clean. I have undergraduate degree in business and an MBA, both from top-tier schools and yet I basically ignored my personal finances for over a decade. As a “business person” I always felt like I should be more on top of my finances and it embarrassed me that I wasn’t. At work, I’d build detailed financial models to support decisions where tens of millions of dollars were at stake. At home, I had accounts scattered everywhere and had lost the password to most of them.
Of course I knew better. I should have been prudently setting up retirement accounts and investing wisely. But any cash I earned above what I spent went into a checking account and just sat there earning no interest. I wasn’t doing everything wrong but I felt guilty not having more of a plan. I was just too busy to do anything about it. My career was taking almost everything I had. I devoted any extra time I had to building relationships and living out my 20’s to the fullest.
When I turned to financial planners for assistance, I was sorely disappointed. First, there were those whose credentials I didn’t respect. I trusted my financial instincts far more than theirs and yet I was supposed to put them in charge of planning out my financial future? Then there were those who tried to sell me insurance because that’s how they made their money. Clearly I didn’t trust them either. The high fliers at the prestigious firms weren’t an option because my accounts weren’t substantial enough. The person who I wanted working on my behalf was was as well-educated and as dedicated to their job as I was to mine. I never found that person so, suppressing occasional anxiety about not having a plan, I set up automatic paycheck deposits and hoped for the best.
In my 30’s, I made the tough decision to leave a dream job to stay home with my two young children. As a Business Designer at IDEO, a product design and innovation firm, I had spent many years advising financial services companies on how to create better products and services for their customers. As a stay-at-home mom, one of my top priorities was to turn my attention on my own finances to design a wealth plan for my family.
Throughout this journey, two things surprised me:
First, I realized that there are many out there like me. I’ve met a lot of smart, accomplished people who don’t want to completely outsource their financial future. They want to rely on their own judgement, yet they’re so busy trying to crush it in their professional lives that they simply don’t have the time for personal finance.
Second, I was shocked by how terrible the experience of creating a financial plan is. Talk about a space ripe for better user experience design! There are some bright spots of innovation out there – notably in the budgeting and investing spaces – but nothing that would help me put together a holistic financial plan with the transparency and insight I was looking for.
I’ve created this blog to share my journey, with the hope that what I’ve learned will help others in the same boat. I’m not a CFP or a CPA, but I am a zealous student of all things finance, an Excel geek, and a designer with a passion for designing better user experiences.