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The Living Daylights

Continuing on the theme of all things podcasts that I’m listening to — which I’ve explored in some recent posts — a few months ago I started regularly listening to the New Yorker‘s “Politics and More” podcast. I’m a fan of the New Yorker magazine, so when I learned of the podcast, I figured I’d likely not be disappointed. And disappointed I was not, Dear Reader.

Wrong logo, right content

The typical format for this podcast is for a host to interview the author of an article in the magazine, and/or to talk at length about the article topic. As the magazine’s writers are simultaneously whip-smart and excellent communicators — as are the hosts — the conversations generally are great listens.

Your Hasanment: Listen to this podcast

A recent episode, however, featured comedian and TV program-host Hasan Minhaj as a guest. Minhaj first became widely known as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He wasn’t my favorite correspondent ever on the show (Steven Colbert, Steve Carrell, and Samantha Bee jointly hold that honor). But the bar was set so high on that show. So the fact that I think Minhaj was an outstanding correspondent is very high praise.

Minhaj now hosts his own show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. I admit to not having watched that show much. But it’s now high on my list of shows to binge. Anyway, the podcast with Minhaj focused about half on the show and the other half on Minhaj himself. Minhaj said two things that really piqued my interest. This blog post will focus on one of them. I’ll write another post on the other.

Minhaj was born in California, but his parents are immigrants from India. The family’s evolution in America seems to demonstrate the timeless story of generational differences and evolution in the new country: The parents retain a lot of the old country and one way of thinking, and the American-born children think of themselves as as American as anyone and have a different way of looking at things.

Don’t you know, we’re talkin’ ’bout an evolution

But it’s the how Minhaj perfectly described this evolution that struck me. He said, “I definitely take a ton of inspiration from . . . my mom and dad. Just their work ethic and hustle. And they just never took anything for granted. Everything — and this can be a good thing — feels like it can go away at any time. So make the most of it. . . . I can feel mom and dad like watching me, be like ‘You’re very lucky to do this. They’re gonna take it away if you don’t do it right. That desire to sort of overachieve. But, I think the biggest difference. And I owe this to them. Is their whole thing when they came to this country was surviving. And I feel like my generation, and I hope my daughter’s generation, it’s about living. And there’s a big difference in that. When you’re surviving, you sort of placate the status quo. You don’t wanna ruffle any feathers. You don’t tell Ellen [DeGeneres], ‘Pronounce my name properly.’ Like put some respect on it. . . . Say my name. Muhammad Ali-style. And that’s the difference between surviving and living. And I want my daughter to sort of unapologetically be herself. I want her to be able to talk about her background and what she believes in and what she’s about. I just want her to have that audacity.”

Excellent.

I will survive

Survival, I think we all can agree, is a good thing. And given that it seems that Mother Nature is trying to kill humanity by hook or by crook (see, e.g., the ‘rona, antibiotic resistance, testosterone-fueled stupidity, and bacon), it’s no mean feat to accomplish day after day.

One of Mother Nature’s more effective weapons.

But as Minhaj so eloquently suggests, a survival-focused life is inferior to a living-focused one. In short, he argues, we all should strive to be our authentic, audacious, and assertive selves. I agree.

But that’s not to discount Minhaj’s parents way of thinking. In fact, I think to bridge the gap between the different focuses of parents and child, it’s essential to examine and appreciate them together.

Minhaj’s parents’ decision to pick up sticks and move as adults to a country halfway around the world was at least no less audacious than Minhaj asserts that his “living” is. In fact, one could argue it’s at least as audacious an act as any a person might undertake.

But while Minhaj’s parents demonstrated clear boldness in moving, they also seemed to have fully appreciated high-stakes of their gamble. Presumably, when they got to the United States (and, it sounds like, for a long time thereafter; and maybe still), they were hyperfocused on starting from nothing and “making it.” Anything that might “rock the boat” presumably could derail those plans. In short, survival was key. If “[e]verything . . . feels like it can go away at any time” is your way of thinking — and, as I think, it’s a perfectly reasonable one (if not the only logical one) — then to adopt Minhaj’s “living” mentality is a bomb that easily can detonate and destroy your plans: i.e., making it (to say nothing of, succeeding wildly) in the new country. So Minhaj’s goal of “living” rests on privilege that his parents’ boldness and hyperfocus allowed for.

Self-directed

But let’s look at things from Minhaj’s perspective. I take his argument to be that with his parents so focused on overachieving and not ruffling any feathers, they sacrificed being their authentic selves. And that may have scared them off from such things as unapologetically expressing their opinions or following certain of their passions. And so, when they die, they won’t have lived the life they might have truly wanted. As it’s awfully hard to do things after you’ve, you know, died. Those foregone acts cannot be done.

On balance, I like the Minhaj approach to life over his parents’. But as I also am more easily able to follow this way of thinking because of the privilege that my ancestors allowed for by abandoning their life in the shtetl (whether by choice or at the business end of a gun).

What’s this got to do with personal finance? I’m glad you screamed in exasperation asked, Dear Reader.

Survival is a basic instinct that I don’t think we can turn on and off willy-nilly. Even if we’re focused on “living,” if an event happens that seriously threatens our survival — or even the life we have become accustomed to living — I think that survival instinct kicks in and overrides any plans we might have had. We might take actions that once seemed far-fetched and/or irrational, and do them in quick succession.

FI can do it

FI resolves many survival needs and allows for the “living” focus to flourish. That is, adequate FI eliminates a lot (most?) financial threats to our survival. And it can go a long way to addressing the nonfinancial threats, such as by allowing for the purchase of health care to fully address bacon-induced arteriosclerosis the ‘rona.

Of course, “financial independence” is a relative term.

Minhaj, I would think, has done well for himself financially. But, assuming that his parents’ also did well financially and allowed Minhaj to live a stable (if not downright comfortable) childhood that enabled him to learn/obtain skills allowing him to succeed on his own, that I think was key to his ultimate success. Put another way, I don’t know if Minhaj’s parents monetarily bankrolled him to where he is today. But they certainly allowed the privileges that follow from a stable financial position to fertilize the ground in which he grew.

So let’s all focus on achieving FI, whether of the coast, barista, lean, or fat variety, and being our authentic selves. But let’s also remember that for many (most?) of us, it was the survival-focused audacity of one ancestor or another, and possibly others among our family and friends, who helped allow for our success.

Oh, and whatever our focus, let’s all do all we can to prevent our ceasing to be.

The post The Living Daylights appeared first on FI for the People.

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SAVVI Financial Review: A research-backed financial planning app

This post is sponsored by SAVVI Financial. You can find more details on their financial planning app here. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are 100% our own.

Putting together a COMPLETE financial plan can be a daunting task.

I mean, if putting together a simple monthly budget scares people, how about planning for retirement?!

~ head explodes ~

I recently test-drove a very cool Financial Planning app by a company called SAVVI Financial, and was really impressed with 2 things:

And
the best part?

The “Premium” version of the tool has a Free 30-day trial! (then only ($9/mo afterwards)

Want to see YOUR financial plan? Sign up for SAVVI today!

What Is SAVVI Financial?

SAVVI Financial is a powerful financial planning app (powered by Artificial Intelligence), which was designed by MIT-trained Ph.D.’s.

In their own words:

“SAVVI is a solutions engine designed to deliver smart, unbiased
financial advice over a client’s lifetime.

Taking a holistic goal-oriented approach, SAVVI considers the
totality of clients’ current and projected income, expenses, current assets and
liabilities as well as available financing options to create highly
personalized multi-period savings, investing and spending solutions that
maximize goal achievement under market uncertainty.”

“but Jake, what does that mean for ME?”

It
means SAVVI took all the complexity of planning your future finances (including
debt payoff, savings goals, and retirement planning & taxes), and made a
SUPER EASY, step-by-step process for you to follow.

Like,
WAYYYY easy.

Check it out!

How Does SAVVI Financial Work?

They
break it down into 3 simple steps:

Organize Your Finances

Once you sign up, SAVVI asks you “How confident are you that you’re doing what’s needed to meet your longer term financial goals?

The
list of options are:

Even
as a money blogger, this question really gave me pause, and made me think about
ALL the money variable in my life, and my future. There are so many moving parts,
sometimes it’s easy to lose track.

This
is an approach I appreciate, and simply asking a question like this shows the
thought that was put into this tool.

After filling out your personal family details (spouse, kids, etc.), you are into the SAVVI Financial Tool.

Similar
to some budgeting apps, SAVVI walks you through connecting your financial
accounts, including banks, credit cards, investment accounts, as well as credit
cards and loans. This helps show a COMPLETE snapshot of your current finances
(including your Net Worth).

Where
they differ (from an app like Mint), is that they also ask for things like Life
Insurance, 529 (Education) and HSA accounts, to make sure you’re fully covered.

Once
all the accounts are added,

And
yes, it’s safe.

In
their own words:

“We protect your data with layers of security. SAVVI works
to be super safe and has a SOC 2 Type II Certification to prove it.”

Set Goals

SAVVI
helps you set financial goals, including buying a home, saving for college,
retirement, and even debt payoff.

They
give you a quick list of GOALS to choose from, and then guide you through a few
questions you need to answer to add the goal to your financial plan.

For
example: If you click on the “Retirement” goal (we all want to retire
SOMEDAY, right?!). It will ask you a few questions like –

SAVVI will take your preferences, and calculate what it takes to get there. It does all the HARD MATH STUFF in the background, and spits out an Action Plan for you to follow.

Take Action

SAVVI
doesn’t want to talk to a brick wall, they ask that you TAKE ACTION. Remember,
SAVVI is not managing your money for you, they are providing a comprehensive
MONEY PLAN, but they require that YOU take the action to see the results.

Once you add all your goals, SAVVI shows you if you’re on track.

If you are on track to hit a goal, you can click through to see more details.

If you’re NOT on track, SAVVI will recommend you adjust your savings rate, or lower some of your GOAL amounts.

Once you have all your goals set, then SAVVI puts together an Action Plan to achieve them.

You
can click each action to see how what they recommend you do to make sure you
hit ALL those awesome goals you have!
 

How Does SAVVI Recommend Investing?

As an SEC Registered Investment Advisor, SAVVI puts together a VERY comprehensive investing strategy that is also simple to follow.

As any good financial advisor would do, SAVVI starts by asking about your “Risk Tolerance.” Especially in today’s volatile stock market, it’s good to know how much you can “stomach” the ups and downs of the market over time.

SAVVI does this by giving you the following investment “risk” options:

They
break down the investments like this:

More detail is included in the Premium Plan, such as specific asset allocation advice on where to invest your money, and it adjusts and grows along with your plans to make sure you always have current investment advice.

This is where the power of SAVVI comes in, and helps walk newbie investors through EXACTLY how they should invest for a comfortable retirement! This is the same level of detailed planning you would get from a Financial Advisor, and it continually adjusts as you get older, and your gals and circumstances change.

Want to see the suggested weight percentages? Give the Premium Plan a shot for only $9/month!

Side Note: SAVVI also runs a complete analysis on possible stock market events, dating back all the way to 1926, essentially “Stress-Testing” your investments in case of market turmoil (ahem….).

In other words, the investing advice should help calm your fears about whether the proposed plan will work.

What About Risk?

One
of my FAVORITE questions they ask is:

Imagine your investments lost XXXX” dollars, how much MORE are you willing to lose…“?

Again,
another powerful way to show that the market is a ROLLER COASTER, and if you
stay buckled in for the long ride, your money will GROW and you will hit those
long-term goals!

SAVVI Financial Pros and Cons

I am really diggin’ the way SAVVI lays out a complex money plan in a simple, actionable format. There are also a few things I’d like to see improve as well.

Pros

Cons

*SAVVI confirmed they are working on an app that will include a budgeting tool!

Three Plans To Choose From

SAVVI honestly gives you a LOT from their BASIC plan if you want to give it a whirl for only $5/mo!

You can plug in all your accounts, pick 2 BIG goals (retirement should be one of them), and shows you an action plan for getting there.

Their Premium Plan is only $9/month, but includes a 30-day Free Trial, and gives you an additional investing advice, including an EXACT asset allocation suggestion based on your goals. They will also remove the ads completely.

The “Personal” plan is $29/month, and comes with live on-boarding and personal coaching to help you create the perfect plan through the SAVVI tool, and coach you through taking action on the plan details. This of this as a “personal trainer” for your finances, someone to help encourage you to build a life of Financial Freedom using the SAVVI tools!

Update: SAVVI is offering assistance to those affected by COVID-19. You can answer a few questions on their site to see if you qualify for a Free SAVVI plan. Check it out below.

Should You Try SAVVI Financial?

Honestly,
yes.

In fact, I’m going to have my own mother-in-law plug in her numbers to see how close she is to retirement with this financial planning app!

Here’s the deal; you have your own goals, ambitions, and dreams, but putting together a plan to achieve all of them can feel overwhelming. SAVVI put together a tool that can lay out the numbers in black and white, and as I always say, the numbers don’t lie.

If you want to see if you are on track toward those BIG goals and toward retirement, I highly recommend giving the tool a shot. The $9/month is well worth it in my opinion to have a tool that follows along with you and helps you make a realistic plan for your future. And heck, if you want to simply try it out first, they have a 30-day Free Trial on their Premium Version as well.

If you already have a financial advisor, or are looking for a service to invest and manage your money for you, SAVVI is not for you. SAVVI does not provide direct investment services, or manage your money at all.

But they do provide you with a REAL plan for your future, give you the tools to make better money decisions and can give you the confidence to manage your OWN investments (like I do!).

If you would like to learn more about SAVVI, or simply want to give it a try, you can check them out at the SAVVI Financial wesbite.