We live in a YouTube, Pinterest, do it yourself world. The ability to figure out how to do almost anything is at the click of a button. Most of us have either seen or experienced a “Pinterest fail”, where little Suzy’s unicorn birthday cake looks more like a three eyed cookie monster. While the failed cake is great for a good laugh, if you are relying on a DIY financial plan and it turns out anything like that cake … well, you probably won’t be laughing.

grandma and grandpa card

I started my working career as a residential painter. I was in that business for several years; and I think it is safe to say it is the most common project homeowners feel comfortable taking on as a DIY. Anyone can paint. It just takes good supplies, a couple of YouTube videos and some man hours and it will look just like the professionals, right?

Well, here’s the thing. I can still to this day, take a quick glance at someone’s paint job and tell if it was DIY or professionally done. Even if you used the same tools and techniques, there is always a difference. Of course, there are varying degrees of amateur abilities. Some people do a great at home job, but I’m sorry to say… it’s not a professional job.

There is a popular theory published by Malcolm Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master in any given field. I can tell you a pro painter knows the feeling of exactly when their paintbrush has the right amount of paint by the weight of it from the countless hours of experience they have. Knowing little details like this results in crisp lines and smooth, even walls. Every. Time.

Becoming truly proficient

Chances are, if you are a pro at whatever you do, you can relate to the above scenario. It takes a staggering amount of hours of being immersed in something to become truly proficient. Not just anyone can pick up your work and do it well. While painting a room in your home or your trying a new recipe is a great way to stretch your horizons, are you reaching as far as telling yourself you can do the same work as a financial professional?

If you are someone who has decided to do your financial planning in a DIY fashion, do you have the time to commit to becoming a part-time pro who is diligent in the process of managing your risk and building wealth? No?

Insert advisor here

Don’t get me wrong here, by no means do I think you should just start writing checks blindly because you have a professional “taking care of it”. Trusted advisors are the ones who have committed those countless hours to dry textbooks and long power point presentations to know the industry they work in, and to becoming that person who can pay attention to your matters when you are busy living the lifestyle you have worked hard to enjoy.

You should always be engaged and understand what is going on in your financial life and an advisor is there to help you assess, teach you about your options, and carry out your wishes in an efficient way. If you have questions or concerns – ask! Chances are your advisor has heard and answered them all many times.

I personally have an advisor

I humbly admit that my advisor can bring something to the table that I can’t. He is emotionally removed from the day to day of my family’s situation. The reality is that emotions play a huge role in our decision making process, and can cloud our judgement. I’m not a number to him, but he cares about my family enough to look at the numbers and tell it to me straight or be a cheerleader when the going gets tough.

Most often, people choose to go it alone with their finances out of fear of being coerced or taken advantage of, not the same optimistic attitude that would spur you on to try to bake a unicorn cake. If you don’t think the advisor you are working with has your best interest at heart – get a new one. You are still in the drivers seat. Our job is to leave you educated, empowered, and organized.

So go ahead, get crafty. Read some blogs and watch some videos, whatever you do, just be proactive and make sure your family is aware of the details.

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