Stop Fixating on the Numbers

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Saturday, 30 April 2016

Stop Fixating on the Numbers

This might come as a shocking statement from a person who looks at numbers as part of her profession, but we can get too fixated on numbers to determine success or happiness. My discovery of number fixation wasn’t necessarily in preparation for building a new financial plan or working with a client. In this case it was related to an online shopping experience. My first question was about the quality of the item given the low price. The second question was my hesitation to buy clothes that didn’t meet the “vanity sizing” standards we are used to if they arrived with tags with a larger size number.  (Did you know that the sizes we see in stores and on-line are larger in the US than elsewhere, so we can make a purchase and feel good about it?)

This discovery led to some analysis about how often our thoughts and opinions are dictated by a specific number, even though that number doesn’t necessarily have any meaning on its own.  We can become fixated on a specific number before anything else can happen.  Plans to cut back on hours, retire, buy a 2nd home, or take a dream vacation are put on hold until we see a certain number on a spreadsheet. We can overly focus on a quarterly report or an update on where we are at, but instead should focus on how we are progressing overall toward long-term planning goals.

As part of my shopping experience, I also discovered that we shouldn’t assign value based on price. For example, I wore my new bargain-priced $39 shirt this week and received several compliments. In fact, many of the highest value experiences in our life come at a low price, like a significant conversation with a friend, a long walk during a beautiful sunset, or time spent with family.

In reality, despite my desire to avoid number fixation, we cannot ditch the numbers altogether. Instead, it would be more meaningful if we stay focused on the possibilities before defining the number. Whether the goal is to change careers, retire early, or visit that foreign land you’ve always dreamed of, the focus should be on gaining clarity about what it takes to achieve your dreams. We should look at our values, goals and aspirations without letting a pre-conceived dollar figure get in the way; then, once we’ve identified what that future life looks like, we can find the “real” number to make that life you pictured into a reality. You may be pleasantly surprised by how achievable the real number is.

So hopefully my journey past number fixation will be a success, just as we will continue to work with clients to make their financial goals a reality.  Make today a day to Flourish!

About the Author

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA

Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.


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