Heather Pearson, Associate Financial Planner

What is it about money that can make us feel so vulnerable? People will talk about many other taboo topics before they are ever willing to open up about their finances. When you stop and think about it, money is really just paper - so it's not actually about the money after all, is it? It's about what the money represents. It's about the feelings and emotions behind it, and it's also what money allows you to do or not do. Security. Freedom. Choices.

Zig Ziglar used to say, “Money isn't the most important thing in life, but it is reasonably close to oxygen on the 'gotta have it' scale.” On one end of the spectrum, when you don't have it, it is extremely stressful (How am I going to pay my mortgage? Will we have enough money for groceries?). On the other end, having your finances in order means being able to do the things you want to do on your terms; without the stress of trying to cover the basics, you are able to focus on other things. Perhaps you have the ability to make a difference in your community by contributing to a cause that is close to your heart, or make a difference in your family by sending your grandkids to college—the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

I got into this business because I want to be able to have deep, meaningful conversations with people about a foundational component of their lives. I want to influence them in a way that brings peace of mind and exciting possibilities to them and future generations to come. I want to impact their lives in a positive way. I caught a glimpse of this kind of impact through an experience my colleague had with one of his clients:

The client's mom had just received a terminal cancer diagnosis and the call to his financial advisor (my colleague) was one of the first he made. He wanted to quit his job and spend what little remaining time he could by her side. Could he possibly do that? The good news was that he had done the hard work of saving and planning and was in a place where he was able to make that happen. It is moments like these that are the most rewarding part of what we do.

Let me leave you with a simple yet profound concept I learned from the book, “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending”, by professors Michael Norton and Elizabeth Dunn: Buy experiences. While it is true that money can't buy happiness, it can buy experiences that lead to happiness. It can buy options and time. Things wear out and lose their novelty fairly quickly whereas memories last a lifetime.

What does money represent to you? Time? Freedom? Security? What experiences will you buy? What choices will you make to transform your life and the lives of those around you?

Views expressed are those of Heather Pearson and are not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or a loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success.