From the beginning, Monarch has been primarily an accounting and tax firm. So it’s understandable when our new clients shy away from talking about personal finance. We hear it all the time: I’m just here for business. Let’s not worry about my personal stuff.
But as a small business, we have our own very personal reasons for talking about personal finance. It’s a part of our DNA: the values that inform each of our processes and decisions. We believe in taking care of you first because your financial literacy and wellness create the basis for your business to thrive.
This story from our founder, Katie, illustrates the point perfectly:
A few weekends ago, my daughter and I decided around 4:00pm on Friday thatwe needed to get out of town. We moved to Utah recently and between the 115 degree weather and desert nothingness for miles around us, I personally couldn’t stand the thought of sitting around the house all weekend. So we took a look at Google Maps and saw that Lake Tahoe was an 8-hour drive away. We hadn’t budgeted for it, and the last-minute hotel would be pricey (little did we know), but it was one of those spur-of-the-moment things—and we both needed it.
Because we had to break up the drive, we ended up staying in a tiny one-stoplight saloon town in the desert with like four casinos. It was somewhere I never would have planned to stay, but we got a kick out of it. And of course, Tahoe was incredible. I had always wanted to go, and if I waited and tried to “do it right” with a budget and an itinerary, who knows how long it would have been before it actually happened. I definitely wouldn’t have allowed myself to indulge quite the same way. As I was pulling my suitcase out of the car on Monday, I felt content and happy. It was one of the best decisions I had made in my life.
What we want all of our clients to understand is that your financial decisions stem from your values first; you can get creative and find ways how to make things happen faster when you’re clear on what’s really important. Katie prioritizes building great relationships and making memories. So she makes financial decisions that put those things first, even if it means sacrificing Netflix for a few months.
“If I followed the rules, I wouldn’t be living a life that is fulfilling for me.”
Some finance experts will try to make you follow a set of “rules” for money management. If you have ever tried to live that way, you probably know that it’s a good way to make yourself miserable. Those rules account for things like paying off debt and saving for retirement, but not happiness and wellbeing. They aren’t realistic for everyone. We would much rather give you the education and tools to make your own rules.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
There’s a pervasive idea that business and personal matters need to be kept completely separate at all times and you have to produce a certain amount before you can relax. That may have worked for someone at some point, but you, my friend, are not Don Corleone. It’s not hard to see how your personal life impacts the way you show up for your business, so aligning those values and decision-making processes will ultimately allow you to create more joy. The spreadsheets are a tool you use to keep track of your numbers, but we encourage you to live by your values, not the gods of Quickbooks. It’s just a different way of getting to a bottom-line that you’ll be truly happy with.
Katie’s relationship-building values have made an impact on our company as well. You may have seen our blog last month on the amazing team we’ve put together. If she was putting profit first, you can bet all of those smart, kind ladies wouldn’t be with us today. Thankfully, Katie decided to put relationships first and share the wealth. Now we have a greater capacity to take on more clients, we can share the work in ways that let each of us shine and we enjoy the intangible benefits of collaboration, accountability and respect. What is it that you really want to accomplish with your work?
You may be wondering what kinds of spreadsheet sorcery will support this values-first lifestyle and business philosophy. Responsibilities and consequences are very real. You will still need a budget, but we prefer the term “spending plan.” We also prefer “intentions” over SMART goals. Metrics can be a tool you use to be mean to yourself if you put the data first. Instead of thinking you’re a failure every time you go over budget, use that information to make changes and do better next month.
Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:
- Determine a couple of top values to start with
- Track the “shoulds” that drive your financial decisions for a few weeks to see what your beliefs really are
- Create more helpful beliefs as necessary and write them down
- Create a plan with plenty of room to invest in things that will make your life better
- Work in your goals
- Save at the same rate you pay off debt to keep building your assets
- Structure your bank accounts and habits to create a “foolproof” system you can follow without too much effort
Feeling a little lost? This isn’t something you can figure out overnight. It takes time to un-learn all of the “shoulds” and secondhand beliefs you’ve internalized to get this far. Once you realize there is no finish line, no destination of “success” that means you have finally made it, you are free to explore what makes you feel good. You can stop judging yourself by dollar amounts and instead ask “did I earn and spend my money in a values-aligned way?” You can get clear on your personal finance and then bring those principles to work.
If you need someone to talk this out with, don’t hesitate to reach out! Get in touch with us and let’s figure it out together.