Appreciate where you are; value where you’ve been.
“Your money mindset—how you grew up, your adult experiences and your beliefs about money—factors into your life and financial decisions in a big way” – Michael Kay
Michael Kay’s road to Financial Life Planning was not a straight line…
An accomplished professional trumpet player at 15, he played rock, jazz, classical—even summer stock Broadway shows. At 19, he walked away from his all-encompassing passion after coming to the conclusion that he was very good, but lacked the greatness that a life as a professional demanded.
He turned to his “next”—earning a BBA in Accounting from Adelphi University—and working for small accounting firms in New Jersey (completing his CPA along the way). Working in high-pressure public accounting for 10 years led him to a variety of experiences: audit, accounting, tax, even forensic accounting—gathering information about personal finances and providing expert testimony in court.
From there, he entered the financial services business—going to work for a trusted friend. But the commission model of the firm didn’t feel right to him. So he migrated his practice to a fee model that was in alignment with his beliefs: perform a service, charge a fee, no commission. It finally felt like his work was about what he thought financial planning should be: helping people with no conflicts of interest.
So he built a firm—Financial Life Focus—of like-minded people.
Michael knows first-hand that when we make life decisions, there is a bridge we walk: it connects our lifetime of memories, beliefs, habits and behaviors on one side, with our personal values and dreams on the other. His dad was a Depression baby—and worked two jobs as a teacher and musician. He, like most of his era, saved every nickel. His mom (11 years younger) was a child prodigy violinist, and had no problem spending. Discussions about money were generally “forte”. His “money mindset” resolved toward a balance of thrift and spending.
He and his wife Wendy—married a year after college—each came from a different money history. They worked out how to talk to each other about money and the financial hurdles of starting out with student debt and small paychecks. In raising their family, they talked to their kids about money. His hope for them was to learn the art of compromising for what they truly value, and that delayed gratification can be more rewarding than a quickly, accomplished but less fulfilling goal. He and Wendy talked about both responsibility and working towards living in balance.
Today, Michael feels richer when he is helping others build money habits that support their values, and that shape their own “money mindset”. This passion is what drives him to speak and write about personal finance. He is a contributor for Forbes, Psychology Today and is the author of The Business of Life — a book that teaches financial advisors how to build a successful financial life planning practice.