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Make Better Financial Decisions - (2 of 9) The Foundation: The PlanAssist® Process

Updated: Jul 4

 Better Financial Decisions with planassist in winter garden,Florida

Making Money ≠ Having Money. It's commonly understood that income and net worth are not always directly correlated. This connection can be easy to miss in the early stages of life when we're rapidly moving through challenges, focusing on family, career, and navigating the crises that come our way. We often tell ourselves, "We'll get past this hurdle, and then we'll start making changes..." This mindset reveals why making money does not necessarily equate to having money. The processes of earning income (Making Money) and accumulating wealth (Having Money) differ fundamentally. Although they may seem similar, especially early in our careers, their outcomes can diverge significantly.

One primary reason for this divergence is the different financial decisions made by individuals with wealth compared to those simply earning a high income. This book aims to delve into these differences. Sometimes, the distinctions in decision-making are minor and subtle, yet, accumulated over decades, they can result in substantial disparities in net worth.

Individuals with significant assets understand the importance of these distinctions and tend to approach financial decisions differently from those who earn a good income but have not accumulated substantial wealth. Recognizing this difference is crucial. When seeking to improve our financial decision-making by observing others, we risk being misled if we evaluate their financial health based solely on their lifestyle rather than their actual net worth and decision-making processes. This book will explore these nuances to offer insights into how distinct financial strategies can lead to different outcomes in wealth accumulation.

Two Core Philosophies

My financial philosophy and opinions are built on two core philosophies that we will explore throughout this book. Though the book is based on adopting three fundamental principles, these philosophies are intertwined and explain why the principles make sense and why they work. When integrating the two philosophies and the three principles, we can and will see why people with assets often make different financial decisions than those with high incomes and minimal financial assets.

The first philosophy is that financial success is not a single event, but rather the accumulation of all the financial decisions a person has made over decades. While this makes sense when we read it, it can be difficult to remember this day in and day out as we make our financial decisions. Small financial decisions are almost always part of larger decisions down the road, so as we make these smaller day-to-day decisions, it's important to be aware of their impact on the larger and longer-term decisions. Having a roadmap and repeatable process that we can and do follow can help us make both small and large financial decisions faster, with more confidence, and more likely better over time.

The second philosophy suggests that we are more likely to follow advice if we either already almost knew it or perhaps knew it but had not acted on it for various reasons. Said another way, advice that is radically different or new to what we know is likely not seriously considered and very unlikely to be implemented. This is why it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the advice to do something that turned out really good came from. It likely came from multiple sources, and when the advice was finally conveyed to you, it probably wasn't an "aha" moment; it was more like a confirmation or reminder that nudged you to actually take action.

These philosophies are evident when comparing and contrasting people who make a lot of money to those with a lot of money. Throughout the book, we will delve deeper into how those with money make decisions, and explore the differences between the two groups.

Integrating the Philosophies and the Principles

In the realm of financial decisions, whether they are minor or significant, our choices are often influenced by previous decisions with which we are satisfied or in some cases dissatisfied. We will discuss three core financial principles: the first two are instructional 'how-to' guidelines, offering insights that may not be entirely new but resonate due to their familiarity and slightly different approach, making them more likely to be considered or partially adopted. They are also used to some degree by many in the financial industry.

The third principle, 'Seek Counsel,' differs as it leans more towards subjective interpretation compared to the straightforward nature of the first two. It underscores the importance of being able to analyze and weigh financial advice, highlighting how the philosophies are either embraced or disregarded in our financial lives. As with most things subjective, it is also the more difficult of the three and likely not clear when it was beneficial or not.

To help understand why these specific principles and how the two philosophies integrate with them, let me share a high-level overview of my journey in the financial services industry. This path is marked by diverse experiences and significant time spent serving and guiding both individuals who earn a substantial income and those who have accumulated significant wealth.

My Experience and Background

My career began not in an office but on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the 1980s, where I started as a runner before becoming a trader, immersing myself in the world of commodities. This foundational experience laid the groundwork for my understanding of financial markets.

The 1990s brought a pivotal shift when I joined Charles Schwab & Co., an opportunity that allowed me to interact with a broad spectrum of financially successful clients across various industries. It was during this period that I began to notice and pay attention to how financially successful people made financial decisions, and I realized there was a difference between those who earn a lot of money and those who have accumulated significant wealth.

These insights were crucial in shaping my approach to financial management, steering me away from the excitement of trading to a more structured focus on wealth building. As I advanced into leadership roles in the 2000s, my resolve to help others build and maintain their wealth only strengthened. By 2012, I had earned my Certified Financial Planner® designation and was ready to leverage my extensive experience and insights by founding Core Wealth Consultants LLC, marking the beginning of my journey as a financial advisor in Central Florida.

The development of PlanAssist® marked a significant milestone in my career, driven by a desire to simplify wealth-building principles for those who, for the most part, understand finances and know what they need to do but may need a nudge or assistance with the next steps—essentially, help with prioritization and organization.

Inspired by the philosophies of renowned investor Charlie Munger—particularly the principle that "we can only help those who almost know"—and tailored to my unique insights, adding my own which is “financial success is not event but the accumulation of all our decision over decades”, PlanAssist® embodies the culmination of my experiences and the principles that, in my opinion based on experience, individuals need to implement to some degree to grow and maintain wealth.

We will go beyond recounting my career to explore strategies used by the financially successful to manage and grow their assets effectively. Examining proactive versus reactive approaches in financial decision-making, highlighting the significance of considering more than just income and expenses. While crucial for financial decisions, increasing and maintaining your wealth requires a consideration of how financial choices impact all aspects of your financial life and plan.


The foundation of PlanAssist® aims to assist you in making financial decisions while connecting the dots to other aspects of your financial life, making it easier to make decisions by providing steps and helping with prioritization. Making the right decisions is important, but equally important is the order in which we implement those decisions. An action can be right or wrong depending on the order in which it is done. The overarching theme of PlanAssist® is to promote responsibility and discipline in financial decision-making. The initial step involves adopting a proactive approach, which means making decisions in advance. The subsequent principles are aligned under this premise.

PlanAssist® is founded on three fundamental pillars, crafted to streamline financial management for individuals and their families, thereby rendering the financial decision-making process less stressful and more integrated.

The principles(planassist process) are:

  1. Having a Plan: Serving as the cornerstone of financial stability, this principle promotes proactive and informed decision-making. It emphasizes the importance of regularly updating the plan and integrating it into significant decision-making processes.

  2. Being Diversified: This principle focuses on risk reduction by diversifying investments across various asset classes, ensuring multiple income sources in retirement, and spreading tax liabilities.

  3. Seeking Counsel: This involves leveraging both formal and informal relationships and is not about being told what to do. It is getting input and suggestions from individuals that are not attached emotionally or financially to the decisions. It includes financial advisors, tax professionals, and attorneys, as well as insights from individuals who have demonstrated success and knowledge.

These core principles are designed to bolster financial confidence, foster unity among family members, and help ensure alignment with professional advisors. Their consistent application cultivates an atmosphere of stability and growth.

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Freequently Asked Question)FAQ)

1. What is the main difference between making money and having money?

- Making money refers to earning income while having money is about accumulating wealth over time. While both are related, they involve different strategies and mindsets. A high income doesn't automatically accumulate wealth due to various financial decisions and lifestyle choices.

2. Can you be wealthy without earning a high income?

- It's possible to accumulate wealth without earning a high income. This typically involves living below your means, making savvy financial decisions, and investing wisely. Wealth accumulation is more about managing and growing your assets over time than how much you earn.

3. What are the two core philosophies mentioned in the article?

- The first philosophy emphasizes that financial success is the accumulation of all financial decisions made over decades. The second philosophy suggests that people are more likely to follow advice that aligns closely with what they already know or have been considering but have not acted on.

4. Why do wealthy individuals make different financial decisions than high earners?

- Wealthy individuals focus on long-term wealth accumulation and making financial decisions that grow their net worth. On the other hand, high earners may focus less on wealth accumulation strategies. They may spend more, limiting their ability to accumulate wealth over time.

5. What are the three core financial principles discussed?

- The three core financial principles are Having a Plan, Being Diversified, and Seeking Counsel. These principles guide individuals towards making informed decisions, reducing risk through diversification, and seeking advice from professionals and successful peers.

6. How does one's financial decision-making process affect wealth accumulation?

- Financial decision-making impacts wealth accumulation significantly. Decisions around spending, saving, investing, and planning can lead to a compounding effect over decades. Small, intelligent choices can lead to substantial growth in wealth, whereas poor decisions can hinder financial progress.

7. What role does seeking Counsel play in managing finances?

- Seeking Counsel involves leveraging expertise and perspectives from financial advisors, tax professionals, attorneys, and knowledgeable individuals. It helps make more informed decisions, avoid common pitfalls, and align actions with long-term financial goals.

8. Can financial success be achieved overnight?

- Financial success is only achieved after a period of time. It results from consistent, prudent financial decisions made over a long period. While there are exceptions, such as winning a lottery or receiving a large inheritance, sustainable wealth is typically built gradually.

9. What is the significance of having a financial plan?

- A financial plan is the roadmap for achieving financial goals and navigating various life stages and financial decisions. It helps prioritize goals, manage resources efficiently, and adjust strategies as circumstances change, ensuring a focused and strategic approach to wealth accumulation.

DISCLOSURE - All written content on this article is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Core Wealth Consultants. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Core Wealth Consultants, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor in the States of Florida, Indiana and Michigan. You should always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Diversification and asset allocation does not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.

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