What do jalapeños have to do with your financial plan?


Shelley Leavitt Nadel* indicates that each individual’s unique flavor preference can be used to understand our risk tolerance and capacity.


What do you think of jalapeños? The last time I cooked with them my fingers and lips burned for hours.

As a native Texan, you can imagine how embarrassing it is not to tolerate spicy food.

Thank goodness for cumin and garlic – definitely the spice of life – which are staples in most of my cooking.

On the other hand, my children are connoisseurs of hot sauces everywhere.

These differences are not a problem for most.

After all, variety IS the spice of life, and each of us has our own spice tolerance.

If you’ve ever met with a financial advisor, they’ve probably asked you about your risk tolerance, which is generally recognized as a way to quantify your ability to “sleep through the night” in volatile markets.

Sophisticated advisors will add another term – risk capacity – to ensure that the risk of loss in your investment portfolio does not exceed your ability to remain financially secure.

So what do these two “tolerances” have in common? They are both unique to each of us.

Here are some ways to honor your uniqueness.

Keep it simple.

Today’s food labels can make even the most educated among us stupid.

What the hell East guar gum anyway? Processed foods are the biggest offenders when it comes to adding ingredients from the lab rather than nature.

(Don’t believe me? Just read the label on canned macaroni and cheese.)

For your finances, avoid strategies that you can’t explain to your spouse or your best friend.

Terms like Sharpe ratio, beta and derivatives may seem important, but they won’t help you make smart financial choices.

Most women are loath to admit that they don’t understand investing, so they are either too conservative or trust someone else to make all the financial decisions.

Simply put, if your advisor uses jargon that makes you uncomfortable or sounds like another language, walk away and take your money with you.

You deserve better.

Be flexible and true to your personal tolerance.

Have you ever found a great recipe but skipped it because of an ingredient you don’t like or can’t find in your area? Of course not.

Instead, you were flexible and offered a substitute ingredient.

My favorite homemade BBQ sauce calls for fresh chilies, but knowing my dislike of jalapeños, you can guess I adjusted the recipe based on my personal spice tolerance.

Financial flexibility is essential for long-term success.

Investment strategies that worked in your 30s may not be enough in retirement and need to consider longevity.

When presenting a financial plan to clients, we emphasize that it is a living, breathing document that should and will constantly change as they age.

Your financial priorities will change over time and circumstances; the needs of the single woman in her twenties are very different from those of the newly divorced mother of toddlers.

A solid financial plan has four essential components: investments, savings, protection and inheritance.

Your long-term financial success will depend on maintaining this strong core, but being open and flexible as circumstances change and opportunities arise.

Whether it’s in your kitchen or with your financial advisor, celebrate your uniqueness and don’t trust anyone with your “recipe for power.”

* Shelley Leavitt Nadel, CFP®, CLTC®, LUTCF is the principal financial advisor and owner of Financial Success Strategies, LLC. where she and her team provide comprehensive planning services to professional women and those who love them.

This article was first published on forbes.com.

Louis R. Hancock