3 unexpected financial planning lessons you could learn from Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss’s books are well-known for passing on life lessons to children through interesting and rhyming lyrics. But hidden among the vivid illustrations are valuable teachings that could apply to financial planning too.

During his lifetime, Dr Seuss wrote and illustrated more than 60 books – several of which are the most popular children’s books of all time – and more than 600 million copies have been sold. So, to mark what would have been his 120th birthday, here are three unexpected financial planning lessons you can learn from the writings of Dr Seuss.

1. Remember that life’s a “great balancing act”

The last of Dr Seuss’s books to be published during his lifetime, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a firm family favourite thanks to its hopeful yet realistic outlook.

It talks about the “great balancing act” that is life to celebrate both the challenges and joys people experience. The words of wisdom about how to get the most out of life resonate with financial planning too.

First, it encourages readers to seize opportunities and work towards their goals: “You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

An effective financial plan should start with what you want your life to look like – what motivates you or brings you happiness? Deciding where you want to go in life could help you make financial decisions that are right for you.

Second, Dr Seuss recognises that even the best-laid plans can go off track: “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true, that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.”

During your life unexpected events and obstacles could mean that, despite your best efforts, your plans don’t stay on track. Whether your investments perform poorly or illness means you need to retire early, some things are outside of your control.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for them. Much like Dr Seuss, financial planning recognises that things can go awry. By considering them before they happen, you might take steps to minimise their impact.

2. Variety is important

“Did I ever tell you that Mrs McCave had 23 sons and she named them all Dave?”

The amusing poem Too Many Daves tells how Mrs McCave unimaginatively named all her sons Dave, which makes things “quite difficult”. The struggling mother laments that she didn’t give them a variety of names, from Snimm to Sunny Jim, when they were born.

The poem ends: “But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.”

The lyrics are a reminder that diversification is important. Like Mrs McCave, if you placed all your money into a single investment, you could find yourself regretting the decision later. It may mean you’re more exposed to investment volatility and a higher risk of losing your money.

In contrast, if you spread your money across multiple investment opportunities it may help balance out the ups and downs of the market.

Don’t be like Mrs McCave and leave diversification until it’s too late. Considering how to diversify investments in a way that reflects your risk profile could help you create a portfolio that’s right for you.

3. Be open to listening to advice

It can be easy to stick to what you know and ignore advice. But it could mean you miss out on opportunities.

In Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am offers a plate of food to a man, who, perhaps put off by the unusual appearance, refuses to even sample a bite despite lots of encouragement. Finally, the man gives in and tries the green eggs and ham simply so Sam-I-Am will leave him alone, only to declare that he likes the colourful dish.

Taking advice from a financial planner could help you see things from a new perspective. You might discover there’s a way to reduce your tax bill, or that by contributing more to your pension now, you could retire earlier than planned. We could help you avoid missed opportunities and give you the confidence to try something new.

Interestingly, Green Eggs and Ham was written as part of a bet between Dr Seuss and his publisher. Dr Seuss was challenged to write a book using just 50 words. The result is a story with a simple vocabulary that’s perfect for beginner readers. In fact, of the 50 words, only one (anywhere) has more than one syllable.

Green Eggs and Ham has since sold 8 million copies – proving that you don’t need to make things complicated to be successful.

Contact us to talk about your financial plan and the “places you’ll go”

Financial planning could help you feel more confident about your finances and create a plan to reach your goals.

Don’t put off seeking financial expertise. As Dr Seuss would say: “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way!”

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Investments should be considered over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.

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