Michael E. Chadwick
By Phil Hall

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

About the company:

Based in Unionville, Conn., Chadwick Financial Advisors President Michael Chadwick offers financial planning, investment management, and estate and tax planning services.

The Mistake:

My parents were wonderful – my mom was a nurse, my dad was an auto mechanic – but they made some horrible money decisions. They never really budgeted and never
made savings a priority.

As a kid, I heard thousands of times, “Michael, we can’t afford that.” That was so deeply ingrained in my brain that I didn’t want that to haunt me for the rest of my life. So I decided to learn how money works.

I began this business in 1994 because our society has no mechanism to teach people about money. The most common financial problems I see among people today are not keeping a score; either they are not paying attention or not making it a priority to step back and see where they are financially.

“I decided to learn how money works.”

The Lesson:

I tell people to think of financial planning as taking a financial X-ray of yourself. You review where you are and need to figure out what targets you want to hit: kids in college, retirement, buying a home, whatever it may be.

But there are many reasons why people have financial stress. I think a big problem is corporate marketing, which has the ability to separate people from their money, especially on fluff items. People buy a lot of things that they don’t really need; and if there are items that are needed, the prices on a lot of things are absurd. People get sucked into the whole name-brand, high-end thing, and that behavior creates problems.

Also, there is very little incentive to save. The government does a very poor job of leading by example because it spends more than it takes in. Eventually, the situation must change because someday the bills will have to be paid.