My 2-step-decision-making-process & an epiphany.

Every year that I grow older I continue to have lightbulb moments that seem so obvious in hindsight.  We recently expanded our family, welcoming our fourth child and first baby girl late last year.  There are always things we can anticipate and things that surprise us with that kind of change.

One thing that become painfully aware to us was how much less the layout of our home made sense for our family of six (and one large dog)…..(and lots of neighborhood kiddos).  As we began to discuss our different options, my head started to hurt.  Do we put on an addition (and finally tick off that ‘need to do list’)? Do we just move altogether (and also tick off the ‘need to do list’?)  Do we rent out our current home and purchase a new home?  If we do move, do we pursue a new build or remodel an existing home?

Before I go further, I want to explain the further complexity of the decision.  Our home is very old…..like some parts of the home over 150 years old, old.  Some contractors we talked do wouldn’t even touch the home, others were obviously hesitant even if they didn’t say so.  This added another layer to the what-ifs…..

As I began to talk with friends, family, clients, neighbors, I heard advice all over the spectrum.  The thing is, everybody has a different opinion shaped by their own experience.  If someone had a negative experience building a brand new home - then new construction was bad.  If someone had a surprise in renovating an existing home, costing way more than anticipated, then building brand new is the way to go.  The only answer we found was confusion.

That is when something dawned on me, and the irony was heavy.  THIS IS WHAT I HELP TALK CLIENTS THROUGH.  That probably seems obvious to everyone but me, and allowed me to do what I always do when helping clients to make a decision, follow a process:

  1. First, let’s look at what is obvious on paper, is there anything that jumps out that would make one an obvious poor decision (this usually involves some Excel spreadsheets, compounding interest calculations, historical return numbers, etc.)
  2. Next, ask A LOT OF QUESTIONS…..most specifically starting with WHY?


It may seem like these epiphanies happen often for me, like I am just fumbling through this role and figuring out what my job description is on the fly.  You would think I would have figured that out, I have spent 40% of my life as a financial advisor.

But rest assured it strengthens my resolve to bring the best advice to the table for clients to navigate those decisions such as above.

And, we made a decision…….maybe if I run into you I will let you know what we decided!

-Matt Stahl