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Millionaire Acres or the Poor Farm? The best answer may be somewhere in between

MarkFischer_LL.jpgWhat’s the goal of financial planning? Not necessarily accumulating the most money possible, says financial planner Mark Fischer of Fischer on Finance (pictured at right).

“Figuring out what [people’s] passions are is one of the biggest challenges. It's not just about having more money, it's about having a better life,” Fischer says.

Strictly talking about money Fischer says, “is the wrong emphasis. It should be more on the ‘so what’—what are you going to get from it, what’s the point” of accumulating wealth.

On June 11, Fischer will offer a LearningLife financial planning workshop, Financial Planning for Life.

Unlike many financial planning seminars, Fischer says the workshop focuses on more than just accumulating monetary wealth. Instead, participants engage in a holistic approach to financial planning that begins with participants’ life situation; continues with their goals, life direction, and resources, both human and financial; and comes full circle to a financial plan for the life they want.

The idea that financial planning is about more than just monetary wealth is especially important to keep in mind during these times of financial crisis, says Fischer. “We have needed to focus more on the basics – investments, how they work, and how to construct portfolios that can grow even in times of stagnation. We have continued to evaluate ‘having enough’ during retirement,” he continues.

“If you're goal oriented, there are things you can bring to bear besides money, and we will discuss that in the workshop. It could be skills, or personality, or experiences, or a social network. It could be a variety of things that people could bring to bear to accomplish what they want.”

Says Fischer, “the course consists of two assessments—a risk profile and a survey of participants’ goals, obstacles, and resources. Next, you'll dig deeply into your goals while acknowledging your obligations, and use what you've learned to guide your decision-making. Then, you'll assess your life situation, catalog your finances, develop investment guidelines, and create your individual investment policy statement. Finally, you'll learn the principles of investing and apply them to your own situation.”

The financial crisis can leave people feeling powerless, according to Fischer. “Risk is real and challenging now. The first reaction that people have is the fear that their life goals will now be unattainable. Sometimes they feel stuck—they believe that there is nothing they can do which will make things right for them.”

But, he continues, “Knowledge and wisdom can lead to a sense of empowerment. As they come to understand that they really do have choices, some of them quite good, they can retrieve their power and control over their lives. Hopefully, [this workshop will help them] come to understand that there are constructive actions they can take, even in these difficult times.”

Financial Planning for Life will be held Thursday, June 11 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the U of M St. Paul campus. The cost is $65, which includes dinner. More information is available on the LearningLife Web site or by calling 612-624-4000.

Mark Fischer is a certified financial planner who owns and operates Fischer on Finance, a fee-based financial planning firm. A former chemistry professor, Fischer holds both a Ph.D. and an M.B.A., has taught at several universities, and has conducted seminars with numerous organizations and associations.

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