As I write this blog, I am suffering from a bad case of the flu/cold, making it very hard to get through the day. In times like these, I am thankful to be armed with DayQuil to temporarily ease my symptoms and allow me to finish my work.

Which brings me to today’s unplanned topic: painkillers vs. vitamins.

Painkillers immediately address symptoms or pain points and provide a sense of relief right away. Like my bottle of DayQuil.

Vitamins and other supplements have less urgency to them, but are still critical for your overall well-being, and are arguably more important because they may help to prevent illnesses from occurring in the first place. Like my Women’s Multi-essential.

Financial planning can be both a painkiller and a vitamin.

Certainly, there can be a level of urgency in financial planning. You may have a “triggering event’ – for example, you may have just gotten married, changed jobs, or have new loans that you need to pay off – that requires some immediate action. There is a short term need to address, such as getting your joint accounts set up correctly, rolling over your old 401(k) into an new IRA or employment plan, or cutting your expenses as soon as possible so your debt is more manageable.

Often, it is at times like these when people reach out for outside counsel because there’s a specific problem currently weighing on their minds.

[Related: What Financial Unwellness is Costing Companies]

But it’s important to remember that, even in the absence of a triggering event, financial planning is still necessary in that it acts as an invaluable vitamin and preventative tool – building up your “money immunity” so you never catch the cold the begin with.

The most common example is retirement. If you’re in your 30s, it can be tempting to postpone savings and splurge on social weekends with friends or settle for a less stressful but lower paying job, because retirement is still decades away. It’s easy to rationalize that you’ll have time later. But by saving early, having an appropriate asset allocation, and taking advantage of compounding earnings, you are preventing the potential pain of struggling in your later years where opportunities to earn more may have passed. A recent article in The Washington Post forwarded to me from a colleague of mine illustrates the hardship of retirement in a way that’s hard to ignore.

The recent natural disasters in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are also good reminders. While certainly no one could have predicted that level of devastation, those that took preventative measures, such as having the right property/flood insurance in place years earlier, having their homes and personal items well documented so claims could be made easier, etc., will likely have less challenges to overcome as they rebuild.

My personal example is reaching out to my attorney to create a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy for my 18-year old daughter. Having those documents in place provides a peace of mind that’s invaluable to me as a parent. Though I pray we will never have to use them, having them ready to go will be one less thing I have to worry about in the event of an emergency when she might be unable to make critical health and financial decisions for herself.

[Related: Let’s Stop Treating Our Finances Like a Dirty Little Secret]

How grateful I am for my bottle of DayQuil and Women’s Multi-essential! They are easing me back to health, and I will likely be feeling 100% by tomorrow.

Here’s hoping the actions you are taking with your money are doing the same for your financial well-being.


Jennifer Faherty is a Certified Career and Executive Coach specializing in helping women define success on their own terms, make the best career decisions for themselves, and find work they love. For more information, and for help saving and getting your personal finances in order in 2017, inquire about services at or sign up for our updates at