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School of Personal Finance - What is it?

Updated: May 29, 2019

Welcome to the School of Personal Finance. This first post will give you a glimpse of what this site is all about and how it can help you live a more fulfilling life. Money, investing and personal finance have always been very interesting to me, so naturally I wanted to learn as much as possible. I read tons of books and started investing in stocks back when I was in high school. This carried on through college and the next logical step for me was to start a career in the financial industry. I also always enjoyed talking about money and personal finance so it made a ton of sense to start my career as a financial advisor.

Fast forward almost 20 years later and I decided it was no longer for me. There are way too many things that are broken in the financial services industry and I just don't know if they will ever be fixed. Seriously, how can financial advisors not have to act in the best interest of their clients? (Google "Fiduciary Rule") I will go deeper into my personal background and beliefs in other posts, but I wanted to help paint the picture of why this site now exists.

I have sat down with thousands of individuals and families over the last two decades and the one thing that I could never wrap my head around was how little people understood about money.

Not only did many of them not know much about personal finance, but it seemed to me they had no desire to learn about it. How can this be? Doesn't everyone want to be great with their money, to understand how to use it to get back control over their time and live the life they have always dreamed about? The fact that we all spend a majority of our lives at work to bring home a paycheck should provide some motivation to ensure we are getting the most out of it. Over time I realized that the answers to these questions are not that simple and most of my assumptions about people were completely wrong.

Money, savings, personal finance, investing, insurance, budgeting, living below your means, student loans, estate planning, credit cards and so on and so on. While these terms were a part of my everyday life and directly in the center of my comfort zone, they made the people sitting across the table from me break out in hives. Do these terms make you want to go back to whatever you were doing before you starting reading this? You are not alone if that is the case. I find myself feeling this way whenever I am talking about technology with my much smarter programming friends. People do not like to talk about things that make them feel insecure or uneducated and I didn't like making my clients feel this way.

As my career progressed I realized I was becoming less of a traditional "financial advisor" and started following my heart to become more of a financial educator or financial coach. Keeping things simple was always my motto. I enjoyed teaching my clients about the basics of personal finance and cheering them on along their journey. I found it so satisfying when clients started to see things in a new light and actually became better with money as a result of our discussions. Some clients even referred to me as their money shrink. I loved that! My relationships grew so much stronger and I honestly felt like I was helping people.

Slowly my perception started to shift. I started to see that people really did want to learn about money and personal finance, but they wanted it to be easy to understand and they wanted to learn in a non-threatening environment without worrying about what this guy is trying to sell me.

Suddenly it was becoming obvious to me when that point of comfort and trust was reached with each individual client. Their guard would come down and their interest in money and personal finance would explode. They were now the one asking the questions. This was when I knew I was on the right path to truly helping the person sitting across the table.

I am creating the School of Personal Finance because I want to help you be great with money so you can achieve that confidence and desire to learn more.

Why isn't this stuff taught in our educational system? I have many theories on this, but one of the biggest reasons is because it is a very difficult topic to teach. There are no concrete answers in personal finance and everyone has an opinion. Personal finance is very personal. It is different for everyone. So much of it has to do with emotion, personality and your individual hopes and dreams. There is no direct line to get from point A to point B. Just because your best friend at work is maxing out their 401k plan does not mean that it is right for you. It also does not mean they are smarter than you or better at saving then you. What they are doing has nothing to do with you. Everyone is in a different situation. It is never the same journey for anyone.

There are basic fundamentals and a basic awareness that we should all possess. The quicker you learn about these basics and apply them to your personal situation the better your life will become. I promise.

Once you get a grasp of the basic concepts, you can venture out and choose the path that is right for you. This knowledge will also protect you from putting too much trust in the wrong person or from just following what your co-worker says is the right thing to do.

Never let anyone convince you that they know better than you do when it comes to your money. Especially if they stand to profit from whatever it is they are telling you to do! Always understand how the person giving you advice is getting compensated.

It is okay to get help and listen to the opinions of people you love and trust, but you always have to understand what you are doing. Of course, if you have zero financial intelligence then what choice do you really have? You are forced to delegate and pray you put your entire future in the hands of the right person. It usually doesn't end well. It has to be your responsibility. Your happiness depends on it.

Personal finance can be a very overwhelming and intimidating topic if you let it. It is like learning a new language. There are so many products, terms and opinions. It feels like Wall St. and financial institutions purposely make things sound so complicated so you believe you need whatever it is they are selling. You can turn on CNBC and the ten smartest financial minds in the world all have different opinions on the state of the economy. You can meet with 5 different financial advisors and get completely different advice from each one. How is a person with limited financial education supposed to make sense of it all and make the right decision for his or her family? Start slowly. It really is not that hard. You do not need complex products and strategies to be great with money.

My mission is to create "easy to understand" content in a "comfortable environment" where you can learn at your own pace and apply it immediately to your life.

Go get started! There are few different things going on around this site. Here is what it looks like:

PF Products - Learn about all the different financial products that are available in the marketplace.

Blog Posts - This is my first post. I will continue putting out new posts on all different topics.

YouTube Channel - All my videos since the beginning. Subscribe and hit the notification bell so you see all my newest videos. Check it out here

That's it for my first post. The plan is to keep putting out great content that is easy to follow, entertaining to watch and will help you learn all you need to know to be great with money.

Learn more at the School of Personal Finance

To becoming great with money....

Rich McCormack, CFP®

School of Personal Finance


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