Discipline and Accountability Are Critical to Your Financial Success

August 17, 2023 | David Edmisten, CFP®

When it comes to achieving success with your finances (or any area of your life), knowledge isn’t enough.

You can know a lot, but it takes discipline and accountability to put what you know into practice.

Discipline ensures that your knowledge results in action.

Accountability ensures that your actions continue when your discipline fails.

You can see this in personal fitness as an example. Most people can quickly learn how to properly execute a bench press, how to set a treadmill for intervals, or how to create a weightlifting circuit that targets all their muscle groups.

But thousands of people hire a personal trainer to help them get into shape? Why?

It isn’t just the personal trainer’s knowledge. The trainer sets a schedule of regular training sessions to create the discipline needed to get results. The trainer’s presence and motivation during the session creates accountability to help make sure the full workout is complete so the goals will be met. The trainer is there to help make sure you show up and complete the training, even when you don’t feel like it.

The same is true for financial success. Most people can learn how much they should save, how different types of retirement accounts work. They can learn how to allocate investments, monitor the markets, how to rebalance a portfolio. They can learn basic tax rules and regulations and can even use online tools to estimate how much they need to save for retirement.

But without discipline and accountability, all this knowledge will not provide financial success.

It takes discipline to stick to your asset allocation when the markets are volatile, and the media is telling you it’s time to be afraid. It takes discipline to rebalance your portfolio on schedule every year. It takes accountability to make sure you are saving the correct amount in the right account every month.

It takes discipline and accountability to ensure that all the correct decisions are made for your financial plans to succeed, even when you don’t have the time, expertise or inclination to do so.

It’s important to gain knowledge to make educated and informed decisions for your financial future. But it’s equally, if not more important, to establish the discipline and accountability to make sure that all those decisions are executed in the proper manner. If you don’t have a system to ensure the discipline and accountability for your financial success, engage a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to create one for you.  

When you're selecting a financial advisor to help you, ask about how they work with clients.  Do they have an established, proven process that instills discipline to make sure the right actions are taken at the right time?  Can they clear describe that process to you?  How does the advisor handle changes in the markets or your situation?   

A great financial planner will anticipate and interpret challenges and provide action steps to keep you on track.  A great financial planner will have systems to make sure all aspects of your plan are evaluated and monitored regularly so nothing is missed.  A great financial planner will have methods of mutual accountability to make sure the actions you and they need to perform are completed on time.  

Your financial professional's presence should create a cadence that keeps you both disciplined and accountable so that your plan delivers success.

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About the Author:

David Edmisten, CFP®, is the Founder of Next Phase Financial Planning, LLC, a financial advisor in Prescott, AZ. Next Phase Financial planning provides retirement, investment and tax planning that helps corporate employees retire with both financial and lifestyle security.