Delegate the Dangerous

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Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC®

When I was a teenager I had friends who could fix anything. Cars, carpentry, you name it. They were gifted mechanically. I was not.

Like most young men I really wanted to be able to handle myself around cars and the shop. Wood and Metal Shop were some of my favorite classes in high school for this reason. However, I realized over a couple of years that my natural skills lay elsewhere.

When I was 15 my grandmother gave me a barely running ’65 Ford Fairlane, straight 6-cylinder engine as my first car. I drove it back from Baton Rouge to Houston running on maybe 4 1/2 cylinders. It got about 4 miles per gallon and took forever to get home.

My best friend Mike grew up working in his father’s auto shop and he offered to help me do a valve job on that car to get it running properly. I spent an entire day at the shop with Mike telling me what to do and how.

We managed to complete the job. I remember looking at him and his brothers at the end of the day. They didn’t have a spot of oil or grease on them. I was covered from head to toe.

That’s when I realized, I’m probably not an auto mechanic sort of guy.

I had other experiences like that growing up. Each one helped me understand an important principle I follow these days.

Lead with your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.

That brings us to “Delegating the Dangerous.”

It’s tempting today to think you can do things yourself. Technology has made information ubiquitous. You can literally “google” anything and watch a video on how to do it.

But stop and think about something for a moment. Does it really make sense to save a few hundred bucks by trying to do your own Last Will and Testament when the downside to getting it wrong can be huge?

If finance is not your strength, is it wise to base your entire financial future on your ability to manage your own investments that you accumulated over a 35-year career?

The consequences of me blowing a carpentry job around the house are minimal. But blowing my life savings? That’s something I could not recover from. I consider that dangerous and not worth the risk.

I began looking for a trusted mechanic to repair my car in my 30s. That was frustrating, and I had some hiccups along the way. Eventually, I found someone I could trust and who got the problem solved the first time, every time.

That’s the challenge for most of us, I think. We can make the leap from realizing I can’t or shouldn’t do this myself and should find some help. But how do I find someone who I can be confident in, trust to do the right thing, and charge me a fair price for the services?

I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is important to find someone to help put a plan together and manage your serious, can’t afford to lose, money. It’s one of the more important decisions and relationships you can develop in my opinion.

We created a list of questions to ask that can help you find a qualified advisor. You can download them for free at the link below.

10 Questions to Ask Your Advisor

One final thought; If you have a genuine interest in investing and wanting to learn more about it, consider approaching it as a hobby. Set some money aside to invest that if you lost it all, you wouldn’t be impacted too much by the loss.

I have encouraged many of our clients to do this over the years. It’s a fun way to learn more about investing and usually, it reaffirms the wisdom of not managing the serious money ourselves.

The conclusion is this: Simplify your life by delegating the dangerous. It can improve your odds of long-term success and can improve your quality of life.


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