Danielle Howard
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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December 3, 2012
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Financial acumen from my life on a river

I am blessed to have both our office in Basalt and our home in Glenwood Springs overlooking the Roaring Fork River.

In addition to the health impact of the negative ions produced, the beauty and the soothing sound, the water that passes by has many parallels in our financial lives.

Water is a life sustaining, basic human need for survival.

Since the barter system is cumbersome, and most people are no longer self-sufficient, money has become the means to put food on the table, a roof over your head and clothes on your back.

We need to acknowledge and reconnect with its importance in our lives and use it wisely.

Speaking of using it wisely - I grew up with short showers, turning the faucet off while I brushed my teeth - do not waste it and look for ways to conserve.

We did get to play in the sprinkler on hot summer days though.

Dams and reservoirs are built to store water.

We construct tunnels or irrigation canals to carry it from one place to another.

Can you see the correlation in your financial life?

It is hard to use our money mindfully with credit cards stuffed in our wallets, or the ability to scan our smart-phones for an immediate purchase.

Storing up financial resources for future use picked up a bit during the recession but is still at record lows.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate as a percentage of disposable income was at 3.8% for March 2012.

Is your future one of turning your financial faucet on and a dribble coming out?

We need to have the mindset of careful, intentional, wise use of our monetary means.

We need to store some for the future and use the correct vehicles to get it from here to there.

Last year, we had record runoffs on our local rivers. This year, not so much!

The same is true of our financial provisions.

Sometimes, money is flowing fast and furious. It passes through our hands without much regard.

At other times, it is a trickling stream.

We may appreciate it more and use it creatively and intently when the flow is low.

However, the same needs to be true when we experience a season of financial abundance.

We have the opportunity to direct its flow.

Should it go towards a reservoir of savings? Are we giving to the causes that are important to us? Are our purchases thought out and intentional?

Last summer, we had a raft trip planned through the Gates of Lodore on the Green River.

Our conscientious leader kept close check on how the water was running.

Normal runoff was about 4,000 cubic feet per second.

By early June, it had risen to 24,000.

Along with the fast water and a variety of other components, we made the decision to stay off the river. There was too much at risk.

There was little room for error if something went wrong.

How do you manage risk and volatility when it comes to your financial resources? What is your strategy with your investments? Buy and hold on? Are there navigational hazards that need to be addressed?

Whether you invest in stocks, bonds, the alternatives markets, or real estate - you need to look at what you want to accomplish and what risk are you willing to take.

There are times that you don't want to be in the water.

Do you have a rules engine or an investment policy statement that guide your decisions, or is it only emotional?

Don't let fear and greed be your default guide.

Water needs to keep moving. Look at the Dead Sea or Great Salt Lake as compared to the lakes and rivers that have inflows and outflows.

Not much grows in or around stagnating water, while moving water is a source of life for everything around it.

So it is in the equivalent of our financial resources.

There was the transformation in Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol' as he was enlightened from a hoarding, cold, on the verge of death creature to a joyous, gracious, bountiful conduit of his life-giving assets.

How is your financial flow giving life to the people, or purposes that are important to you?

Get out there - fish in it, boat on it, hike alongside it - enjoy the rivers that run through our Valley.

While you immerse in the beauty, think of other analogies to your financial life - I only touched on a few.

- Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner®. She gets in the boat with her clients to guide the financial journey and knows when to portage. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Visit her at www.howardfinancialresources.com or call 927-3909.


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 3, 2012 01:03AM Published Dec 3, 2012 01:01AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.