The Gateway Drug of Personal Financial Planning

You’re just cruising down the internet minding your own business. Maybe you’re doing some window shopping, and an attractive loan interest rate catches your eye – 2.9%. Oh,  hell yeah! So, you quickly look around and nearby you see a nice, professional-looking calculator offering to crunch monthly payment options for you – and it let’s you play around with different purchase prices and terms to see what you can afford – and it’s FREE.

The next week, you’re still thinking about those sweet amortization tables for the car or house or whatever you were thinking about financing, when you run into a self-important looking ad for another calculator that claims to tell you exactly how much you need for retirement. It just requires a few pieces of your financial situation and BAM! – you’ll have it all figured out. Except of course you won’t. What you will have is a ‘point-in-time’ glimpse of your possible financial future – a blurry snapshot from a disposable camera.

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But you’re liking these tools, so you keep bouncing around between various ‘Nest Egg’ projectors and ‘Monte Carlo’ simulators – I mean hell, there are literally THOUSANDS of them! Some from big names in the financial industry: Fidelity, Schwab, T. Rowe, Vanguard. And each time you think you’ll be getting the ‘good stuff’ and feeling that now you’re at financial peace, safe and secure – you wake up the next day wanting just a bit more…

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(Dave Chappelle from “Chappelle’s Show”, Comedy Central [2004])

That’s when you realize, you’re hooked. You just can’t seem to become satisfied – things still seem unclear. Why? Because you realize these point-in-time calculators are inherently flawed. Because there are major financial differences over the course of your life – you payoff mortgages, send kids to college, or your spouse takes a year away from work while the kids are young.

So finally, you follow the advice printed on each calculator’s page and you pick up the phone and call one of the ‘big guys’. They make you promises of the real good stuff. Sure, it’ll cost you – but you get what you pay for, right? If you want to get a warm and true feeling of financial peace and freedom, well that kind of high doesn’t come cheap. The tools  used by large financial institutions are well outside what most families cannot afford, usually thousands of dollars annually for a single license.

Then, in a sudden moment of clarity you realize – there’s another way! There’s an entire community of bloggers, pod-casters, and tool-builders who are NOT part of the big guys and who want nothing more than for you to succeed! Success that is fueled by your own interest and desire to make changes in your life that will support your own very personal financial future.

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And these are folks who are into spreading what they know by mentoring people who are just getting started and by building the technology that will let regular people map out their own unique financial futures. Ones with long vacations, mini-retirements and a myriad of approaches to modern life that corporate financial planners have a hard time considering because it’s simply not in their playbook.

What you need is a living model of your financial life…

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You need a way to check-in a few times a year to ensure your assumptions about the future are true. And if no longer true, have the ability to change them. You need a model that matures with you, both from a situational perspective but also from a financial literacy perspective. As you read about new techniques and approaches to your finances, you need a tool that supports “what-if” scenarios and the ability to track progress over time.

There are very few tools that support the philosophy of starting simple with the flexibility to create extremely complex models unique to each individual. We hope you will give OnTrajectory.com a try – signup is FREE!

The last question, then, is this: If rudimentary free tools are the gateway drug and corporate financial planners are the hard stuff – who are the bloggers and pod-casters and independent tools like OnTrajectory.com?  We are that natural high you get when you’ve invested in yourself. When you’ve pushed yourself as far as you can go and then have that feeling of breaking through to a new level, a new understanding, gained a new approach to a world of future financial possibilities.

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OnTrajectory is an educational tool intended to help you model various financial situations. All projections are based on hypothetical assumptions, including rates of return, that are provided by you and actual results will vary, perhaps to a significant degree. There is no guarantee of investment return or future result.  Please be aware that NO information provided by OnTrajectory should be considered investment, tax or legal advice. We encourage you to review your plan often and consult with the appropriate professional when implementing changes.

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