Taking a business leader approach to managing your finances.
Because of my background in business, I tend to look at my finances as if I’m the Chief Financial Officer. I look at it from that perspective instead of being cheap or a tightwad.
I’m always trying to optimize my finances so the outlook on the future is bright.
What is a CFO?
“A Chief Financial Officer is a senior executive with responsibility for the financial affairs of a corporation or other institution.”
In all businesses, someone has to be in charge of the business finances. How this person operates could depend on the success or failure of the business.
Think of it like driving a ship. The ship is only as good as the crew members aboard and without any clear purpose and direction of where they want to go will end up wandering aimlessly. The captain of the ship has to set the direction.
Becoming the captain of your finances requires the same intentionality and focus. If you’re not on top of your game, it’s easy to get thrown off course and it will take time to recover.
You become the CFO of your finances by setting clear goals, charting a course, managing your finances and doing what it takes to get to where you want to be. If it’s not you, who’s it going to be?
For example, if you signed up for a subscription last year and forgot about it, that’s bad business on your part. You’re paying for something that you no longer use and no longer serves a purpose. It’s the CFOs responsibility to catch these.
One of the main functions of a CFO is decreasing business expenses to increase cash flow. All of these ads to the bottom line which is the only number anyone cares about at the end of the day.
Why should you think like a CFO?
You want to start thinking like a CFO of your finances because you’ll look at your money with different eyes. If you’re not happy with where you are, it’s probably because you haven’t taken ownership of your situation or you have no idea what you’re trying to do.
The CFO has to get results. Results mean decreasing expenses, increasing cash flow and hitting future financial projections. If they don’t do this, they don’t have anyone to turn to and could end up losing their job.
When you approach your finances with a business mentality you’re going to see results.
Managing your finances like a CFO
Manage cash flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. Without it the business dies. They’re responsible for directing funds so the business can function. The same goes for your personal finance.
When you get paid and the money hits your bank account, does it all just sit in your checking account until bills are due? If it does, you’re not being a very good CFO. Divide it up into investments, savings, paying off debt, etc.
Long term projections
The CFO is responsible for the long term success of the company. Along with other executives in the company, they set cash flow projections and try to be as accurate about the future as they can be based on sales projections, market demand, the economy, etc. They then base their goals off of these numbers.
If you’re not setting financial goals at least annually you’re like a ship without a rudder.
“A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” -Thomas Carlyle.
Monthly or quarterly board meetings
When cash flow projections are complete and goals have been set the board gets together as often as possible to monitor their success, talk about challenges, and adjusts numbers and goals if needed. This is a high-level view of what it takes to operate a successful corporation.
The CFO constantly considers the risks the business may be exposed to. They then make sure they have adequate insurance and liability coverage in case something were to happen that would be catastrophic to the company. They also make sure they’re not overpaying for coverage.
As the CFO of your finances, you should be reviewing your coverage on policies such as homeowners insurance, car insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, and life insurance each time the policies renew.
Last but not least, The CFO focuses on paying as little in taxes as possible. Perhaps not only focused on paying the least amount possible but focusing on increasing after-tax net income. If it means paying more in taxes but it increases the bottom line, it’s a good decision.
CFOs don’t just think of taxes once a year, everything they do should be centered around how to minimize taxes by getting deductions, expanding the business, writing off bad debt, etc. The CFO has some say in how the company pays taxes but it’s mostly up to the accountants who report to the CFO. Ultimately the CFO is focused on the future while accountants are focused on the past.
When it comes to tax planning, you should be keeping track of receipts or online transactions, understand which purchases are tax write-offs and deductions, and maximize the after-tax return of your capital. That way when you go to file at the beginning of the year it’s not a headache getting everything together when you file your taxes.
If you think of your finances from the perspective of a CFO, you’ll look at money differently. Instead of getting to the end of the month and wondering where all of your money went, take responsibility and narrow everything down to the penny. If you do, you’ll have a better grasp of the overall health of your financial household.
Turns out there’s an actual book written about this subject. If you’d like to read more on this subject you can check it out on Amazon: How to Be the Family CEO.
Because of my passion for finances at a young age, in high school, I submitted a One-minute Public Service Announcement on Financial Literacy to the Utah High School Film Festival and ended up taking second place receiving a $2,775 scholarship to the school of my choice. I attended Utah Valley University and took a course in Personal Finance that didn’t count towards anything. I simply wanted to learn more about the subject. My ultimate plan was to get a business degree from the University of Utah.
In 2014, I returned from an LDS mission. While there I decided I wanted to help people with their finances. My first week of being home I sat down with an independent financial advisor and he told me if I wanted to get into the financial planning world I needed to take the Utah Health and Life Insurance exam. I studied hard for the exam and failed the first time. I studied it some more and failed it a second time. Insurance was my interest which may have been why I didn’t grasp the concepts. I decided to look for other opportunities.
I interviewed with many companies in the financial services. Transamerica, Primerica, Northwestern Mutual, Fidelity, New York Life, etc. and many more. None of them were a good fit. I’m not saying they are bad companies I just didn’t see myself fitting in there. Each wanted me to start contacting friends and family and sell insurance. Other bigger companies wanted me on the phone Sunday’s and graveyard shifts. I wasn’t into that.
My second semester at the University of Utah, I noticed a flyer for a workshop hosted by the Personal Money Management Center. I thought it sounded interesting. So I went. Afterward, I set an appointment with Tiffany. She helped me create a budget;). She mentioned the IDA program at the end of our appointment. I went and I qualified. After the eight hour workshop, I spoke with Ann and asked her how to manage a credit card properly (little did I know I would be teaching an hour section of the IDA on credit within a few months).
It was October 2015 and I had a feeling to see if there were open positions for the upcoming semester. What I liked about the PMMC was I could tell Ann, Tiffany and the peer mentors simply had a desire to teach and educate about personal finances. I didn’t have to sell anything to help people. That attracted me. I didn’t care how much money I would make, I simply wanted to help others and I felt like I could do that there. I also wanted to deepen my own understanding of money and become a better presenter. So I began as a peer mentor on Jan. 6th 2016 at $10 an hour.
I started out running the front desk, setting appointments, and answering phone calls. I went around campus and gave presentations and spoke with other students at events. This helped my organizational skills, my soft skills and my ability to public speak. After a few months, I mentioned to Ann I wanted to meet one-on-one with students. I sat in on appointments to get a feel for becoming a financial counselor. I studied for the AFC exam. I read books on counseling, debt and bankruptcy and a textbook on personal finance. I strangely enjoyed reading them because I learned so much for myself.
The summer of 2016, I barely passed the exam. It was a hard test but I passed it! But, I needed to complete 1500 hours of counseling in order to get my certification. May of 2017, I became an Accredited Financial Counselor®. I plan to always keep this certification. It gives me credibility as I work with my other people. During my time counseling, I met with 218 students, all from different backgrounds and financial situations. I learned so much helping peers my age with their money problems. At the same time, I gave over 25 presentations reaching over 600 students. Some of my highlight speeches being the football team, women’s basketball team, women in prison, Physical Therapy students, and all types of college students and staff members.
Opportunities that came from working at the PMMC was first and foremost, all of the relationships that I’ve built with people. From those that I’ve worked with to those that I’ve counseled. In the end, this has been the best opportunity. At the same time, if I didn’t work at the PMMC, I wouldn’t have received the Student Union Leadership Scholarship for my involvement in the Union. I wouldn’t have attended conferences in Louisville, Kentucky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and San Diego, California. I wouldn’t have met people at these events and explored different places. I wouldn’t have worked on campus in a job that was flexible with my school schedule. Which allowed me to hit two birds with one stone by going to classes and working up on campus on the same day.
Even though the income wasn’t enough to support my wife and son, I continued to work there and find other ways to make money because of the opportunities that it gave me. I learned how to operate the PMMC, from the marketing, evaluation, counseling structure, meetings, and getting the word out about financial literacy. I had the opportunity to book some of the best financial educators in the country and get to know them as they came to campus to present to our students. Speakers including, David Bach, Adam Carroll, Phil Town, and Anthony O’Neal. Many have inspired me to know that it’s possible to teach financial literacy and make a decent living. These opportunities are what made working at the PMMC worth it to me.
I plan to follow my passion for financial education. Too many people in our country go throughout life without thinking about how to make better financial decisions. They fall into debt by going on vacations they can’t afford, borrowing too much in student loans, and waiting to save and invest so they don’t look back later in life and wish they had started sooner.
To help people to the best of my abilities I decided to pursue a Master’s in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. It’s a two-year program that begins this fall (2018). I’m taking my wife and son to Lubbock Texas to live for a few years. I don’t believe I need a master’s degree to be successful nor am I doing this to just do it. I wouldn’t recommend everyone do a master’s degree in order to make something of themselves. But I love options and I love to learn. There is more to learn and I want to be the best financial planner I can be.
I’ve secured $10,000 in scholarships and qualified for in-state tuition. If I work for the university, it will cover ⅓ of the cost. It’s an affordable degree I probably wouldn’t do if I had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to complete it. But I should be able to graduate debt-free. We’re willing to take some risks in our lives and we’re treating it as an adventure. Plus, we’ve been looking for an excuse to move back to Texas:)
I recently began working for a financial planning firm that’s based out of Lubbock, Texas. I’m going through training and when we move to Texas I’ll have a place to work on day one. I’m excited to work with this firm. The firm is Amicus Financial Advisors who specialize in financial and settlement planning. From what I’ve learned, they’re a different type of financial planning firm with a great mission. One that aligns with my values. I’m excited to work there while I complete my master’s degree and see what it turns into.
My long-term hopes and ambitions are to continue to educated underserved younger people and middle-class Americans. There’s a gap between people who need sound financial advice and those that are able to pay for it. I want to reach a large audience of people at no cost to them through writing and speaking while at the same time having a few good clients that work with me on a regular basis. I’m sure things will change but these are my plans as they stand.
If you’ve made it this far reading … I’m proud of you! I invite you to check out my blog at www.simplifinances.com. Follow along on my journey and join a community of people that are striving for financial independence!
Hi, I’m Scott. Welcome to my website! I’m an Accredited Financial Counselor, husband, and father. I hope you’ll join me on the journey of reaching financial independence through simplifying how you manage your money.