It is my great pleasure to sit down with close friends and work through any financial confusions they have. One friend in particular I always enjoy speaking with because he brings this unique passion and energy to learn new concepts and shines a fresh smile whenever we go off on our stock market tangents. Tonight was a unique session however, as we sat down over dinner and I asked him some profiling questions to better understand what type of investor and saver he is.
I ran Kevin through a few questions using my very own personal finance and risk assessment test. To no surprise at all, Kevin was misinformed on many of the basic principles that I have come to accept as obvious truths. To name a few, credit card points should be monitored and used for large purchases (including travel), credit card transactions can be tracked online and have made receipt hoarding..."unacceptable," and investments can be made liquid (turned into cash) in no time (3-5 business days). To much chagrin I began combatting Kevin at each point, saliently proving that an oversized checking account was NOT the best way to save for the future.
Mattress stuffing is an old adage that suggests lack of trust in the financial system and stems from the bank instabilities of the early 1900s. The mentality of the era still persists in some individuals as I have seen way too many people in their 20s with only checking accounts and no investment mechanisms. With plenty of money to live comfortably and weather minor hiccups in the road, many people in their 20s need to start saving and investing. The largest principle to crack the mattress stuffing code is trust.
Finding the right person for a mattress stuffer to trust to discuss money is very important. Mattress stuffers have trained themselves to ignore all of the literature and advice surrounding investing and saving, brushing it off as noise to their beliefs. There is no lack of pertinent financial advise and information out there but how the mattress stuffer absorbs, or lack thereof, that information is unique. These individuals know they should be doing something differently but they put it off because they don't feel ready or don't fully understand every component of the decision. When advising such a personality, it is important to press hard on education and even harder on taking action. Any move for them is a move toward progress.
After a long discussion and a few diagrams later (below) we put a preliminary plan into place. We agreed to take his banking online, use Mint to aggregate his finances and expenses and then begin the investment process through his corporate IRA program as soon as a few questions are answered by his corporate HR team.
*All names are changed to hide the identities of my advisees