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FEFP: Don’t Let Perfect Get in the Way of Good Enough (EP43)

Ever thought about whether striving for perfection is worth the trade-off in terms of enjoyment and attainability? In this episode, Michael, John, Ben, and Tommy discuss the downsides of fixating on flawless blueprint plans. Through personal stories and financial insights, they find the balance between aiming for perfection and recognizing that progress often trumps unattainable ideals. They share practical examples, dissect areas that require compromise, and advocate for proactive measures to avoid getting stuck in overthinking.

Listen in as they explain the importance of acknowledging and managing risks within a comprehensive financial strategy. Highlighting the inevitability of risk in endeavors targeting retirement goals, they stress the importance of collaborating with knowledgeable experts who understand your unique circumstances. You will learn how waiting for a perfectly risk-free plan can hinder the ability to seize valuable opportunities and more.

Listen to the full episode here:

What you will learn:


  • Why you shouldn’t strive for perfection with every decision you make. (2:05)
  • The importance of accepting the possibility of—and planning for—risks. (5:30)
  • How to avoid missing out on great opportunities. (10:25)
  • Why it is important to “just say yes” sometimes. (18:30)
  • Why everyone will have some level of risk when they retire. (20:00)
  • The importance of working with a financial advisor who specializes in your situation. (26:00)
  • Why taking daily little steps towards your financial goals is key. (32:00)


Ideas worth sharing:

  • “If we always try to stay scripted to this perfect blueprint plan for our lives, it probably is not going to be enjoyable—and it probably is also not attainable.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  
  • “It’s okay not to hit the maximize button every single time.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  
  • Don’t let the idea of building an absolutely perfect financial plan get in the way of enjoying your life.” - Mason & Associates, LLC  

Resources from this episode:


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Read the Transcript Below:

Congratulations for taking ownership of your financial plan by tuning into the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Mason & Associates, financial advisors with over three decades of experience serving you.

John Mason: Welcome to the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast. I'm John Mason, president of Mason & Associates. And today we have all four of us in the room recording this podcast episode, Don't Let Perfect Get in the Way of Good Enough.

So today, again, John Mason, we've got Ben Raikes, Tommy Blackburn and Mike Mason, four of the five financial planners at Mason & Associates today discussing, do not let perfect get in the way of good enough.

And it's a really interesting title and hopefully it is not completely unsophisticated because we think it's a pretty good statement, don't we Tommy?

Tommy Blackburn: We do. I think it's an acknowledgement of practical, of how life happens practically and the reality of life. And that if we always try to stay scripted to this perfect blueprint plan. Well, that's one, is probably not enjoyable and it's probably also not attainable.

So, I believe that is the general direction we wanted to go with this. And it really is practical because we see this not only amongst ourselves in our own personal lives, but of course with all the many clients that we work with all the time.

And it's great because we work with successful people. Successful people tend to be perfectionists and sometimes you need to help them back off of that a little bit.

John Mason: I think you mentioned a lot of good things really early on already, and we're going to share Mike, both personal ideas of don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

Then we're going to also talk about it from a financial planning perspective. And I think we're also going to probably address the things we will not compromise on in the search of perfection. Balancing don't let perfection, don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

But also, being able to realize these are the things that I must have, these are the things I will not compromise on in my search of perfection while not letting that stop me from doing anything.

Michael Mason: We've got a lot of engineers as clients, so another term that they would use is analysis paralysis. To get here, I need to do all these things. And well, if I can't do this one, then I'm never going to get there because something derailed me. So, analysis paralysis or don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

Ben Raikes: I think another good point is we're going to give a lot of examples here of in our personal lives and in our clients' financial lives what it means to not let perfect get in the way of good enough.

But I think simply what it means to me is it's, we're not telling you to settle for mediocrity. We're not telling you that you need to do something that you don't want to.

But it's, let's find a balance between where we want to be and where we are today and let's take steps in the right direction to get there without, as Mike said, overanalyzing and just never taking action on anything. Because that doesn't do anybody any good.

John Mason: And this doesn't mean that the four of us, and we'll throw in Ken, and we'll throw in our ops team. This doesn't mean we're not striving for perfection. Sometimes the decision on when to take social security is abundantly clear, delay until 70, sometimes it's a little more foggy. It's like, well, it doesn't really matter.

So, then we tend to try and show our clients what we believe is like the mathematical perfect recommendation or decision, but then give them the authority, empower them to make the decision that it's like, well maybe turning on social security at 64 and three months isn't that bad.

Like, yes, 70 is better, but this doesn't seem like it's blowing up your financial plan. And then that allows you, Mike, to be able to enjoy your retirement plan that much more now. Then that tells us what we should do, doesn't it?

Michael Mason: Yeah. I mean, if you're looking for perfect being, how much did you extract out of social security over your statistical lifetime?

But if you're looking for perfect over, I retired and I didn't take a trip from age 64 to 70 because I was looking for perfect. How about your retirement be perfect. And if you have to pull it from your 401(k), you're not going to do it.

Well, the perfect plan should probably be take it early because that maximizes your enjoyment of retirement and we don't care if you extract as much out. So, it depends on what you call perfect.

John Mason: Well, it's a fantastic point and I think we just want to make sure our audience doesn't think that we're being lazy. And maybe Ben, that's what you were alluding to as well, is we're striving to give the best financial planning advice we can do.

We're striving to empower our clients, to educate them both at the advisor level and the support level. But sometimes it's okay not to hit the maximize button every single time.

Tommy Blackburn: And I think that's where my mind goes a lot with this, is it's, we still demand excellence in everything we do and those we interact with. It's not about not demanding excellence, it's just about accepting some risk in life, one.

Realizing that maybe everything is not going to be bulletproof, and that's okay because we've planned as good as we can for the uncertainties that anybody encounters in life.

And also, just realizing maybe you didn't max out your Roth IRA on top of your TSP this year. And yeah, it would've been great to do it and we completely encourage you to, but you had a trip or something you wanted to take.

Hey, you’re still going to get where you want to go at the end of the day, and that's okay. And we'll continue to come back and say, “Perfect would be, let's max out every tax preference account we can get here.”

But if we still accomplish the goals, that's also okay.

John Mason: Tommy, you just made me think we … maybe a call to action for our listeners right off the bat is if you haven't already checked out the YouTube channel, check us out at Mason & Associates YouTube channel. I forget, Mason at something.

But we've got several videos up there and one of them that's got a decent amount of traction so far, or has a decent amount of traction so far is Don't Max Out Your TSP.

And the reason that we did that video is right after strategic planning meeting season, we started realizing that some of our clients are just saving just to save because for their entire life, Ben, they've been told max out, max out, max out.

So, if you haven't already subscribed to our YouTube channel or if you haven't been there to see our new content, we would encourage you to do that.

But Don't Max Out Your TSP has got a lot of traction so far, and I think it's all about this idea of not letting perfect get in the way of good enough.

Ben Raikes: It's absolutely that. Don't let perfect get in the way of good enough. And it's also about working with someone who knows and understands your situation and you knowing and understanding your situation.

The gist of that YouTube video and the podcast that we've done on it is if you're a federal employee who's got 20 or 30 plus years of experience and you're nearing the end of your career and you think, “Oh man, I still have to max out my TSP because that's what I've been told from day one.”

Well, you need to have another conversation with your advisor and see if that's still a good idea. Because the bulk, likely, the bulk of what your retirement is going to be made up of is your pension, which is essentially set in stone with your years of service.

Michael Mason: John, we talked about (in preparation for the show), the camper that you bought a couple years ago. We're what, two, three years into it. And a perfect would've been you bought the camper and you upgraded your truck at the same time to feel like you had enough muscle there to pull the camper. You still had a good truck.

But so, if you needed perfect and you needed both the camper and the truck, then you probably would've missed three years of experience, you, Sarah, and Carter. And learning that you do like this and the visits up to Mathews County on the water and whatnot, you can't buy time. And you can't buy memories.

So, that's a good example. And I would say that's financial planning as much as anything else. If you asked me, your financial planner, I'd say don't let perfect get in the way, good enough. Get that camper and when you feel it's time, get the truck to haul it a little further.

John Mason: And let's be clear, buying a camper is not a good financial decision, in any way you slice it and dice it. Now, it's been a lot of fun. It's provided memories and time for me, Sarah and Carter to connect. But in no way could this ever be construed as a good financial decision.

Tommy Blackburn: But that's financial planning and financial advising in and of itself is all built around our lives and how do we get fulfillment and then how do we make the numbers work for those things, which are usually a financial detriment.

You're mentioning the RV, but that's traveling. I like to travel, that's definitely money down the hole. But get a lot of great life experiences out of it.

Having children, that's financially detrimental. At least in the short run, maybe in the long run it'll pay out. But that’s not why-

John Mason: I think Mike would disagree. I think Mike and Ken are pretty happy about having a son and uncle or nephew.

Tommy Blackburn: Well, that's the long-term. Maybe the long-term, but that's one of those things where it's these things, we do them for non-financial reasons.

That's why we have to also as financial advisors be able to look and say, yeah, the mathematical answer would be this. But when we plug this puzzle together, this is how we have to take a step back.

Michael Mason: You remember the client that was looking at the Mercedes travel trailer, van, that's-

John Mason: Oh, yeah.

Michael Mason: And is worth a bunch of money, so much money that … this 70, 80, $100,000. But he comes out the gates and says, “Guys, you're probably going to tell me no because I know it will depreciate instantly, but I'm wanting to do this.”

Tommy Blackburn: Engineering type too. So, he’s already done the numbers in his head and yeah-

Michael Mason: And we just laughed not at him, with him and then smiled and now we've — I guess that's two or three years’ worth of stories where they've used it and pictures where their adult children have used it.

That is financial planning. I mean, you only do this once, the winner is not the one that dies with the most money in the bank. Winner is one that dies with the experiences, right?

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. And it's making me think, with our financial planning software, and most of them have this, anyone’s that are worth their salt, have this probability of success meter, which is basically like a stress test of sorts.

And many people want to see that speedometer at a hundred percent all the time. They can’t except less than a hundred percent. And to us that's alright, your plan was perfect. It was a hundred percent nothing could ever break it.

But that's where we usually take a step back. And we're not encouraging you to spend frivolously. I mean, if you're living a life you want to live, that's great. But it also to us says there's room to do some other things in life here.

Are you selling yourself short where you could maybe stress the plan a little bit, but it'd still be basically bulletproof. It just wouldn't say a hundred percent. And that's where, again, the mathematical answer may say this, but we come back and say 90% is good enough in a 30-year projection.

Michael Mason: And that doesn't mean our federal employee clients, if they had 90%, it was the worst possible 35-year period, that they’re destitute, the last 10 years of their lives-

Tommy Blackburn: It just meant there was a 10% chance that we had to change something.

Michael Mason: Right. They're 85-years-old and they have guaranteed income at that point in excess of 200 grand. The 10% supposed failure is that your other cash assets got real low. So, you actually did what you said you wanted to do. You enjoyed retirement, you didn't leave an inheritance, but you didn't go on skid row.

John Mason: It's amazing as we think about the missed opportunities and how the analysis paralysis and the don't let perfect get in the way of good enough. If you cannot grasp this, there are so many missed opportunities.

And what we've talked about so far is like me in the RV, my family in the RV, that would've been missed opportunities because we were in search of perfection, which is the most amount of money at a certain point in time.

Your client, when you talked about their Mercedes RV, they would've missed opportunities because they weren't able to pull the trigger.

And as I think about these, there are some times and we've talked about the military survivor benefit open seats, and I'm going to bring all this together in a second, but some folks right now have that ability to enroll in military survivor benefits and they declined it however many years ago.

Well, enrolling in military survivor benefits is a good deal. You don't necessarily need it, but it's a good deal. Maybe you should just have it.

And so, sometimes there are deals in life where it's like, I just need to do this because it's a good deal. I don't need it, but it's a good deal.

And then there are things in life where it's like, it's a bad deal. You're going to drive that car off the lot, it's going to depreciate. This is going to cost money and it's never going to return you any ROI or rate of return ever. It's a bad deal. It costs money, it's expensive and that's okay too.

And it is just fascinating to me that people get stuck on always getting the best deal or always — even in a car purchase, it's like, well, you're having an Uber, or you don't have reliable transportation because you're in search of a used car, a new car salesman that's going to save you a hundred dollars rather than just going to get the new car.

So, it's just this battle between always searching for perfect. And I admit I just bought a new truck to solve that payload problem and I had a little bit of analysis paralysis because I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting hosed on the deal.

But at the same time, I knew as soon as I just accepted what was likely not a perfect deal, I instantly have a thousand times more gratification, a thousand times more fun camping. It's okay that I didn't get the best deal on the pickup truck.

Tommy Blackburn: It's being able to define what's important to us. And I can tell you from witnessing you go through that exercise and you trying to get the best deal. I mean I heard you out there shopping around and you were being very prudent.

And this is where an advisor probably is helpful, a third-party, somebody a little more objective. Because I know from my perspective, I was like, “John, would you just go buy the truck you want? Your time is worth more.”

I was very happy for you when you bought the truck because I knew you put a lot of time and effort before you pulled that trigger.

But I can tell you that was my perspective on the whole thing was that John is in a position that he's well positioned to do this, and he should do it. It's not irresponsible and he should just value his time.

Michael Mason: He should not make everybody else’s lives miserable, having to help him make this decision.

So, let me bring that truck in because I want to tell that story about survivor benefits just being a good deal. So, what was the last thing you purchased before you walked out of that dealership on the truck? I can tell you it cost $300.

John Mason: It was the interior and exterior protection plan. So, if a bird poops on the truck, they fix it. Or if Penny scratches a seat, they fix it. So, it's like 300 bucks for that protection.

Michael Mason: Alright. So, then I'll ask everybody this question. If all of a sudden, somebody presented you with a machine that produced gold at a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gold a year. And all you do is pour water in it and it would run, and it would produce a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of gold a year.

And they said, you can have this machine. The only thing you have to do is if you want it to continue working for your wife at your passing, then you only get to keep $93,000 of the gold.

So, if it ever breaks down, a hundred thousand of gold, it breaks down, you get nothing. Or $93,500 worth of gold and if it breaks down, it keeps spitting out $55,000 worth of gold. Would you buy the warranty on the gold producing machine?

John Mason: We would.

Michael Mason: Some machines never break down, but there's some machines that always break down. And what are those machines called? People.

John Mason: The human body. Yeah, people.

Michael Mason: So, when it's a machine, we buy survivor benefits on it because you know why? I hate to say this.

John Mason: Yeah, you bought the extended warranty on that Toyota that's going to run 300,000 miles, but you bought the extended warranty.

Michael Mason: But you didn't buy the extended warranty on yourself. And guess what? The Toyota doesn't care. If the Toyota blows up, the Toyota's dead. If you didn't take survivor benefits, do you care? You're dead.

So, did you do it because you're hyper selfish or probably not. You probably did it because nobody presented it to you this way.

John Mason: You probably didn't know the score. Hint-hint, future episode coming, know the score. Maybe a little bit of analysis paralysis, maybe a little bit of don't let perfect … or I'm sorry you let perfect get in the way a good enough because you were thinking I need to maximize my income. And by doing that, you potentially put your spouse in jeopardy.

So, this is just a classic example that SPP decision of analysis paralysis, letting perfect, the search of perfect in a way where you made a bad decision.

And it's amazing, as we think about this episode, people do make these decisions sometimes really bad in search of perfection.

Tommy Blackburn: Yeah. Because I'm sure there's plenty of people out there took an engineering approach to it and probably had a bunch of spreadsheets and said, if I take the premium and I invested or I buy this insurance product …

And one, they probably didn't have all the correct information as they were doing their analysis, they probably didn't have the most fundamental understanding of it. There were some bad inputs.

But two, how much work and how much did everything have to go correct for that spreadsheet to be right? That says somehow, we were going to invest these premiums and it was going to turn out better versus the much easier incorrect answer was, it's just you just take survivor benefits.

Michael Mason: Just say yes.

John Mason: So, Tommy, you had mentioned earlier the retirement probability, 100%. A lot of federal employees love to know that there's not a point in time where they will ever run out of money in their financial plan, given catastrophe, social security going bankrupt, 30 years of recession, inflation running through the roof. I want my financial plan to say a hundred percent probability of success.

Well, we all assume some level of risk in our financial plan because we do retire. Whether it's because we're forced to retire and that could be health reasons, it could be financial reasons, it could be your parents' health reasons that force you to retire. It could be company downsizing.

Eventually you will retire. And a perfect financial plan, the most successful one is probably that you just keep working another year.

And maybe I'll throw this over to Ben for a little bit. The perfect financial plan, the optimal retirement plan is that you just keep working. Is that something that we want to advise our clients to do?

Ben Raikes: Absolutely not. No. We do not want our clients to keep working to inch that up past 100%. I've got news for everyone listening to this podcast. Our financial planning software will not go past 100%. That is absolutely as high as it goes.

And we have to sometimes really think about the contradictions in our own mind about trips that we want to take or money that we want to leave to heirs or money that we don't want to leave to heirs, while also always having the caveat that I never want my chance of success to drop below 100%.

If you tell me that, “Hey, you know what? I thought about it. I'm not going to take that trip to the Grand Canyon, to Europe, to wherever it may be this year. I just don't think the market's right. And you know what? I want to have a solid financial plan.”

That's letting perfect absolutely get in the way of good enough. And we need to work with our advisors. We need to work together. We need to understand the impacts that these things have on our plan.

But at the end of the day, most of our clients can well afford to take that trip that they wanted, to buy the new vehicle that they wanted, to spend time with their kids and their grandkids. Don't let letting the financial plan be absolutely perfect, get in the way of enjoying your life.

John Mason: So, during lunch today, we were having pizza. I don't think, Mike, you were there, but we were talking about the FERS age 62 kicker. And if you're not familiar with that, the FERS age 62 kicker says that if you have 20 years of service and you're age 62 every year counts for 1.1% multiplier rather than the standard one.

So, what is our typical advice for somebody who's 61-years-old? Do we advise them to retire at 61 or do we advise 62?

Tommy Blackburn: We strongly encourage to keep going to 62 at that point.

John Mason: And we do that because we want to hit the optimize button. We want them to get that 1.1 kicker.

Well, I'm just going to throw this out there. We typically say that you have a retirement decision that happens at 60. You're either retiring at 60 or you're retiring at 62 because the closer and closer you get to 62, it almost becomes like kind of crazy to leave because you're that close to that 10% bump.

We're just here to tell you, if you're 61-years-old and your life expectancy was just reduced or you just had your first grandbaby come into this world, or your parents need your help, yes, yes, there would be that carrot, that extra multiplier if you worked 12 more months.

Tommy Blackburn: There’s bigger considerations at that point.

John Mason: Your health, your time, your family, these are assets that are the most important to us. And although our standard advice Tommy would be 62, there are some folks out there that should just retire at 61.

Tommy Blackburn: Though I will to our credit, I agree. And I think you mentioned earlier, we always try to empower clients. We like to bring information and let them make the decisions. And this is it.

So, we say before we get to 61 and think about retiring, we've talked about this probably in your mid to late 50s. Here's how the system works. So, we probably want to go earlier, or we want to make it to 62, life happens, we have to be flexible. But we didn't just get to 61 and realized that, hey, there's a kicker, you need to keep going to 62. So, hopefully there were informed decisions.

And I mentioned flexible. That was the other thing I was thinking about with don't let perfect get in the way of good enough. And I don't know why, but my mind is moving to like World War II Japanese and American naval battles.

Where am I going with this? And where I'm going is that the Japanese were infamous for having very elaborate battle plans that on paper should work perfect. And they followed them almost to a tee.

Americans had battle plans, but ours were more flexible. And it was just more of like, here's a strategic objective and things are going to happen, and you just got to adjust as you go.

And American battle plans sometimes just by luck, they did work out, but it is the ability to adapt as you go. I think the same thing applies to financial planning of don't put a plan in place that it's going to go exactly this way and it has to happen this way. We're going to build in resiliency, we're going to build in flexibility that we can adapt and change as life changes.

John Mason: Well, to your point, we've often turned down folks who call in and say, “Hey, I'm looking for an hourly financial planner. I would love to have a one-time financial plan where you can tell me that everything's going to be okay.”

And really the only time we would engage in that is if we were providing advice on how does federal employee benefits work. We're going to be a coach for you for a little bit to educate you and empower you on your benefits, but we're not going to do a one-time financial plan because we already know what's wrong.

And if you're going to live 30 or 40 years, the value of working with a financial planner is not the initial satisfaction of seeing that speedometer. Maybe it is, maybe I'm biased that I know that when our clients come to see us for the first time, they're terrified and they don't know if they can ever retire.

So yes, there is value in knowing you can know the score and knowing you can retire, but the true value is those adjustments over a lifetime.

Maybe we're a little mean by the people that ask for one-time plans. We don't get to deliver the boom to them, but that's because we believe in the value over a lifetime, not a one snapshot point in time.

Michael Mason: Plus, some of the advice we give is instantly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if we are doing like all these people that are advertising for the ERC payments, employee retention credit and we're not going to charge anything upfront, we're just going to get a third of what we get you.

Well, if we could get a third of what we get somebody that says, why haven't you bought 15 years of military time on a hundred thousand high three, that's 15,000 a year. How much of that is ours?

Well, if we just got one year of it, you would say no for 15 grand. So, when we deliver the boom and can create hundreds of thousands of dollars, like with this client that we're going to help get survivor benefits, what if they weren't a client?

John Mason: Exactly.

Michael Mason: And we help get 65,000 a year cost living adjusted for the rest of a person's life. What value do you put on that financial plan?

Ben Raikes: Great points, Mike. And I think something to drive home from that as well as maybe something we haven't hit on quite enough yet is if you're not working with a financial advisor, you might not know when you have reached good enough.

You might be wondering, well, I completely hear what you're saying. Don't let perfect get in the way of good enough. Well, when is that for me? Do I actually need to do what John Mason did and need to make a bunch of different spreadsheets to determine which truck I can get and when and how's it going to retain its value?

Or could you just go to your financial advisor and say, “Hey, I'm thinking about spending $75,000 on a truck. Tell me if that's good or not.”

Michael Mason: Yeah. And the other point, you may be working with a financial advisor that knows to tell you, “Hey, you want to get that 0.1% at 62,” but they don't know how to help you understand what that means.

The way I would say it to you is, well, if you worked six more months, that's like working three more years. Could you work six more months to earn three years of credit or one more year to earn three? That's a whole lot different than we'll increase it by 10%. It's the same answer.

John Mason: Well, you're empowering and you're educating. It is making it real versus making it textbook.

And Ben, you brought up an interesting point. Maybe some of our audience isn't working with a financial planner yet, or maybe some of our audience are working with financial planners and maybe they're considering switchings.

And after this they're like, well, the Mason said don't let perfect get in the way a good enough. So, maybe my advisor at XYZ company is good enough. Maybe I don't need the Mason & Associates team. Maybe I don't need a federal employee financial planning expert.

We would suggest to you that, it sounds self-serving, but if you're not working with a financial advisor that specializes with federal, then you may be better off not working with a financial advisor at all. Or you'd be better off switching because the person in the middle there is pretty dangerous.

And if they don't understand how the decisions and recommendations that they're making impact your federal military and state benefits, then possibly more dangerous than they are and less helpful than what you think.

So, there are a few things in life that we would say we don't want to compromise on. Working with a financial planner that specializes with you, whether that's federal, state, military or any other private sector company out there is probably something that we don't want to compromise on.

And we would suggest that it's worth the heavy lifting to get out of your comfort zone and make that switch. There's other things in life that maybe that's not the case, but in this particular example, Ben, we would say, yeah, we would probably encourage you at least explore what it's like to work with somebody who specializes.

Ben Raikes: If you haven't found that advisor who is good enough, then that advisor will have you chasing perfectionism and not tailoring their advice toward you. And to your point, John, that's why it's worth the heavy lift to find someone who knows you, knows your benefits.

Michael Mason: Let's understand, as a federal employee, retired military, and a federal employee, your largest asset is not your 401(k), your largest asset's your pension. So, when you're working with a financial planner, wherever they happen to be and they haven't taken the time to learn your pension, they're not good enough.

So, when the gentleman I was talking to at the country club the other night said he's working with XYZ and they do a pretty good job, but the only thing they do a pretty good job on is the things they can't control, which is what the stock market's doing. And he has no idea that this guy's biggest asset is his wife's pension and his, has no idea. So, that's not even good enough. That's not good enough.

Tommy Blackburn: That’s not good enough.

John Mason: So, maybe you've already said this, but it's opening my mind. It's like if you're working with a financial planner who doesn't specialize with you, fill in the blank. That person's not good enough for you.

It doesn't matter if they have the greatest support team, it doesn't matter if they have the greatest credentials. It doesn't matter if there's never whatever, never been a complaint. None of that matters.

If they don't specialize with you, they are not good enough for you. And that doesn't mean that they're a bad firm, it just means that they can't help as good as somebody else.

Michael Mason: Never even asking the question, what happens to that a hundred thousand military check when you die? Never ask the question, what happens to your wife's first check when she dies?

John Mason: You don't have a plan.

Michael Mason: If you haven't asked that question, you're working with a money manager, you're not working with a financial planner.

Tommy Blackburn: You don't have a plan. And I would say, so the benefits are huge, knowing pension is the biggest assets.

And then the next one that's low hanging fruit for us with other advisors is if they don't provide tax planning advice, well that's your largest bill over the course of your lifetime, or at least one of the largest. So again, it's not good enough if we're not looking at these things.

John Mason: Well guys, this podcast is informational, it's educational. We hope to motivate folks, but we also want to give them tangible, actionable advice. So, maybe we can just go around the table a little bit here and what are either some things that, one final example of don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

Maybe an example of how they can take care of their physical health and why that would make sense. Let's go around the table a little bit with either a story or an action item around the theme of don't let perfect get in the way of good enough.

Michael Mason: Yeah.

John Mason: You want to start, Mike?

Michael Mason: Yeah, I'll start out, have a couple of quick ones. If you've been out of exercise, like I got to the point I was walking six miles a day and then something derails you. To get back into it, I don't want to wake up at oh 500 and say, boy, I got to do six miles.

If I just did half a mile or a mile, three miles. You don't have to get back to six instantly if you're just now beginning to save and into your retirement plan and the maximum is 30,000 or 18,000.

If you can't get there doing something, opening a 529 plan with a little bit of money, even if that's only 50 or $100 a month. Because once those things begin working, you see them working and you add more to it.

And one of the frustrations we have in a lot of our strategic planning meetings is you really need to get your estate planning documents done. Alright, that's onerous. I know it's going to take a lot of work. Okay, can we just say, let's get our beneficiaries right this year and we'll work towards the medical powers of attorney and maybe the trust next year.

Tommy Blackburn: And a benefit of working with a firm like ours when we have those estate and we clearly get it from clients. Nobody is excited to do estate planning documents, but we usually go out of our way to get that meeting scheduled, whether we're in it or not.

So, we try to help with that momentum, and I guess it's almost like forcing mechanisms of, hey, we'll get it scheduled and then naturally momentum's going to keep carrying, getting those documents done. And just small steps of just, I don't got to get up at five in the morning, get up at six and get a little bit in.

So, I agree with you, just taking small actionable steps a lot of times will get the momentum moving.

John Mason: I've found that in the search for perfection is not inherently bad. Like searching for perfect, searching for optimize is not inherently bad.

But however, if you can't find it or you don't know when to get out of the way or jump off that bus, what it ends up doing is preventing all action. So, in search of perfection, we get so stuck that we can't do anything.

So, we don't update a beneficiary, we don't increase our saving. We don't hire a financial planner because we can't decide which one's perfect or we can't decide if we should do this or that.

So, the search of perfection can be extremely paralyzing where you can't get out of your own way. And again, I'll just go back to this YouTube channel, and I think the quote's so great, “Start small, start now.”

And that could be applied to camping. It can be applied to saving in your TSP or your Roth. It could be applied to maybe you and your family haven't been on a vacation in a while.

Just go somewhere, anywhere, do something. Even if you live in Hampton Roads, Virginia and your vacation is going to Newport News Park and tent camping, that's doing something with your family that maybe you haven't done before.

So, we closed a presentation about a year ago with a similar saying, but it was like, you're going to make mistakes. You're going to make mistakes and that's okay because if you put the effort in, you did the analysis and you worked hard, mistakes are still going to happen, and we can recover from those.

But we just have to do something. If we're so scared of making a mistake, you may never learn anything new or experience anything new ever again.

Michael Mason: One of the biggest vacation mistakes, Bobbi and the kids … Tybee Island, Georgia. The kids started crying as soon as we got there, and then it turned into one of the greatest vacations ever. Because Bobbi's like, “We're going to Myrtle Beach and we're going to stay at Brighton Tower.”

And now we've stayed at Brighton Tower about 30 times since then. So, it started with me organizing a trip. I realized I shouldn't do that anymore. We've got it back on Bobbi.

Ben Raikes: I think you all hit it really well. What comes to my mind is particularly the trips, the vacations, spending time with family, stressing over, did I buy the perfect beach house? Did I go when the weather is nice? Did I have everybody that I want to be there with me?

Just book that trip. Go with your family. You can't buy your time back. And the more time you spend wasting over is this the exact right time, the exact right place, the exact place to be. Go have an adventure and get started.

John Mason: And I think it's actually been proven, and the audience hasn't figured it out yet, I’m a YouTube RV junkie. And there was another video out there where it was like the human mind doesn't necessarily … you remember the beginning and the end and then the middle is really fussy.

So, that perfect trip that you planned, whether it be Tybee Island or anywhere else, the chances are your brain is really not going to remember everything that happened that week.

But also remember that something that week is going to go wrong, and your mind will remember that and your children and your family and everybody's going to remember the event that went wrong in the middle of your perfect week.

And it's how you handle that. It's how you handle adversity. It's how you handle a recession. It's how you handle anything that throws you a curve ball because that is what your mind's going to remember.

Folks, this has been another episode of the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast. It's never too late to start, start small, start now. Embrace, don't let perfect get in the way of good enough and mistakes will happen. And those are okay because that's how we learn.

We're Mason & Associates. Give us a call, 223.9898.757. Check us out at and our YouTube channel. If you like this content, we'd love to hear from you.

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