What Airplanes Can Teach Us About Money

In my financial planning practice, I meet with a lot of “Type A” entrepreneurs.

Their number one question? “Couldn’t I be doing better with my money?”

I always have to smile.

These driven individuals are used to optimizing everything they touch—or at least trying to. If they have three rental properties today, they want to own five a year from today. If their business brought in $1.5 million this year, they’d like to double that in two years.

Entrepreneurs aren’t interested in “good” or even “better.” They yearn for the “best.” And that’s usually a good thing—for them and for us. When innovative entrepreneurs compete, the consumer is usually the beneficiary. 

But like a jet pilot seeking to go faster and faster, entrepreneurs need to realize that at some point they’ve got to come in for a landing. 

This is why, when having financial conversations with hard-charging entrepreneurs, I don’t try to tell them how to go faster (i.e., make more money). They’re usually pretty good at that. 

Instead, I help them realize the importance of recognizing when and how to slow down. I show them ways to protect and preserve what they’ve made so they’ll one day be able to pass on their prosperity. I don’t want to see anyone crash and burn financially.

We talk about cash, government bonds, and insurance. They bring up stocks, private equity, alternative investments—even Bitcoin (not something I recommend, but a topic I am often asked about). 

Invariably the restless question comes.

“But couldn’t I be doing better with my money?”

And my answer is, “Yes…unless…”

Unless “something” happens to that beautifully optimized business of yours—like an unexpected change in the legal or civic environment that literally puts you out of business overnight. Or a regional economic collapse (think: Louisiana in the 1980s). Or a national financial crisis like we had in 2008. Or a global pandemic (like we’re having now). 

Or unless “something” happens to you personally—like a devastating accident, a prolonged illness, or a disability that takes away your earning power.

Don’t get me wrong. “Faster” has its place. For a big portion of any jet flight, speed is what you want. But when it’s time to “come in for a landing,” a good pilot knows he or she needs to trim the speed. 

Touching down at 550 mph is not recommended by the FAA.

In other words, both progress and protection matter. “Taking risks” and “playing it safe” are both necessary actions. Asking which one is more important is like asking which wing of a jet is more important. We need both! 

Entrepreneurs are smart to realize that when it comes to their money, trying to “optimize” everything, all the time, doesn’t tend to work out well. There are times and places when “satisfaction” is preferable to “optimization.” 

What does financial “satisfaction” look like—especially as one prepares to “land”? 

It might mean redeploying some assets from higher risk (and potentially higher growth) investments to assets that provide stability, safety and certainty…. things like cash, bonds, insurance, and guaranteed income annuities. 

In short, when it comes to your finances, it’s wrong to think you have to choose between growth (“optimizing”) and safety (being “satisfied”). It isn’t one versus the other. It’s a balance of the two.

The best way to achieve this kind of balance is with a plan—a plan that doesn’t seek to predict the future (impossible) but prepares for the uncertainties and surprises life brings. 

A great way to understand this delicate interplay between an “optimizing” mindset and a “satisfied” mindset is to read my free e-book “How to Put Money Worries in Your Rear View Mirror – The Financial Freedom Roadmap.” I’ll be glad to get you a free copy if you’ll email at bmoore@argentadvisors.com and ask for one.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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