DIY, DIFM, or In-Between

photo shows a picture of a desktop with wooden letters saying "DIY," scissors, block, beads, and other craft supplies

In many industries, people distinguish between DIY and DIFM: “do-it-yourself” versus “do-it-for-me.” The same is true of investing and financial planning.

Whether you are trying to build a deck or a retirement portfolio, the internet is full of pertinent information to help you on your way. You may not be a carpenter, but you may have the tools and skills to build a deck. Add some information, time, and motivation, perhaps that new deck will appear in your backyard through your own efforts.

A successful DIYer has all of those things. It does not always work out, but when it does, someone has used their own skills and efforts to do something many others pay for.

When the do-it-for-me or DIFM route works out, people trade money for the time and abilities of professionals in order to get what they want and need. I’ve mentioned before that I mow my lawn with a checkbook—a textbook case of DIFM.

When it comes to plans and financial planning, we believe that is either a DIY thing—you are the expert on your plans and planning—or a collaborative process of discovery. We may support your efforts, help you define or refine what you’re trying to do, maybe do some arithmetic, but you are still the expert.

On the investment front, though, we operate on a DIFM basis. We strive to grow the buckets: we research investments and manage portfolios for those who do not want to go the do-it-yourself route. DIYers have plenty of resources available other places; we’re busy trying to grow the buckets for those who say “do it for me.”

(Of course, our perspectives on everything from planning to investing are available online 24/7 to anyone with an interest in reading our blogs, listening to the podcasts, or watching the videos. There are some DIYers who check in regularly there. But our one-to-one efforts all go to investment services on a DIFM basis.)

Anybody could be a DIYer, in any number of areas… but it doesn’t mean you have to DIY. Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

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Play the audio version of this post below:

Superstars and Team Players

photo shows four hands working together on a puzzle

I played team sports growing up: all my kids at least tried them, too. What do we know about strong teams and strong businesses?

A star player can get a team pretty far—but notching some big wins doesn’t mean the program is sustainable.

It’s a hard lesson for many superstars. Plenty of hot businesses crash and burn under extraordinary people who turn out to be poor leaders.

On a solid team, you don’t need a leader who’s able to do everything: you want a mix across the team. You need to face that not everyone is equally skilled in all areas, and you want to build a space where strengths can shine and powers can complement each other.

So what’s a better alternative to the superstar? We’d suggest it’s the true team player.

Okay, so being a “team player” sometimes isn’t so glamorous. Sometimes people ask you to be a team player when it’s time for you to do something you don’t want to do. It can be a euphemism for a chump.

A team player, however, is someone who can delegate. This type of leader is not so foolish to think they are the only one for the job. This leader isn’t afraid of looking like they’re not up to a challenge—because they know that other team players will recognize the power of working together. Trust begets trust.

Some people mistake a team player for someone who’s okay giving up control. But someone who can work on a team actually gains power: if the work makes it to the person that it’s best for, everyone is free to pick and choose, to optimize how they spend their time.

A lot of endeavors in life require teams. We like to think of our office as one such team, but we are also honored to be part of the team that helps you keep your life running. Clients, by letting us help you, we get to use our skills to focus on one important aspect for you. You’re not giving anything up by inviting us into the process: you’re gaining control, the chance to make more informed decisions that work toward your goals.

We don’t need superstars. Our team has what it takes, and we’ve got the best clients in the world. Call or write when you’d like to chat about this, or anything else.

I Mow My Lawn with a Checkbook

© Can Stock Photo / tab62

You may have heard a thousand times that “time is money.” For me and perhaps for you, the reminder to use our time well was a needed and useful lesson.

As we grew into adulthood and established our lives, careers, homes, and everything else, money seemed scarce and time was abundant. Using time to get money made a whole lot of sense.

Things change as we age, you may have noticed. A client shared a revelation that came to them shortly after they retired: “I spent all those years worrying about having enough money in retirement, and quickly learned that the scarce thing is time, not money. I’ll run out of time long before I run out of money.”

This conversation led us to the thought that money is time. The point was driven home recently when I received a compliment about my lawn from a neighbor down the street. “You must spend a lot of time taking care of it,” they said.

I was forced to admit I spend virtually no time on it.

I mow my lawn with a checkbook. That same tool takes care of the landscaping and keeps my home clean. It has more functions than a Swiss Army knife. Time, for me, is a scarce resource—a valuable commodity. It is a blessing to be able to spend money and get time.

From time to time you have heard us advise “invest wisely and spend well.” These things mean different things to different people. A very dear friend loves to mow the lawn, tinker with lawnmowers, fool around with the shrubbery. Good for them, I say. One of the ways they spends money to gain time is by paying us to help with their financial affairs.

To our young clients, a reminder: time is money.

To our not-young clients, a different version: money is time.

If you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.