Better Financial Decisions with Brian Haney

Making better financial decisions will position you for better outcomes. Brian Haney talks about developing processes for doing what matters most!

Feb 1, 2024 | Podcast

About the Episode

We focused on how to make better financial decisions, the benefit of small positive changes, how to remain calm in the face of stress and anxiety, developing internal processes for getting things done, and why tension should be taken head-on, with Brian Haney, Founder of the Haney Company.       

Listen to hear a difference-making tip on two simple, yet powerful questions you can ask to get closer to financial success!

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George Grombacher

George Grombacher


Brian Haney

Brian Haney


Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Brian, to get us started. Give me two truths and a lie.

Brian Haney 0:06
All right. Hopefully this is going to be really challenging. So Truth Number one is the last time I went to LA, I think it was also the first time I went to LA and stayed overnight, I actually met in person over a dozen movie stars and celebrities. Number two, I have been at the same time within two days to both the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. And number three, is I have two tattoos. What do you think those are?

george grombacher 0:41
Those are excellent. Those are excellent right there that has a lot to chew on. I think that the third one is the life of tattoos is life.

Brian Haney 0:51
So you’re correct. Yeah. Slight. What’s the truth of it? Do you want to guess that? The truth is that

george grombacher 0:59
I think people have a hard time having two tattoos. So if you get two, you’re probably going to go more than that. Right? I got four. That’s true. I, I like it. So we went to LA met a bunch of celebrities. You really met

Brian Haney 1:14
Dustin? Yeah, so So that’s the most fun story was it was a trip, we drove as a family after my senior year from DC to LA, and back. So when we were staying there first night, we were staying at the Beverly Hilton. And there was this awards event. But it was I think, if I remember correctly, I think something like division awards, and it was like a, almost like a community local LA or maybe state level, kind of like award show, but it wasn’t some sort of, you know, obviously national or international Red Carpet thing. So if you were in the hotel, you could just hang out and chill and do whatever. But all the celebrities were there, right? Because it’s in LA. So we’re just like, holy cow, like Mira Sorvino Samuel L Jackson jetters. Little few it like Jon Voight. I mean, I just it was crazy. I have Samuel Jackson’s autograph. He was late, by the way, and was still so cool that he was like, Oh, hey, I’m late. But I’ll still shake your hand and sign autographs and be cool. It was just, I was like, Who does this? You know, I mean, the 1000s Millions of people go to LA and maybe maybe you see somebody on like a movie set tour. But like to see literally like this, this red carpet experience upfront and personal and like, shake people’s hands. And I was just like, okay, cool. winner in my book. So there you go. That’s like

george grombacher 2:43
the great American Road Trip right there. Everybody piles in the car drives across the country. How old were you and how many people were in the car.

Brian Haney 2:51
So it was it was tactical. So on the way out. It was my my younger brother, my dad and I so my dad always says he had two only children. So all three of us started off on this excursion. And my mom’s like, I’ll meet you in LA. Because she’s like, there’s no, I’m putting up with those three clowns for multiple days in a car. And sure enough, like, after about two days, you know, we had our, you know, knockdown drag out, whatever I don’t, you know, whatever it was, was absolutely built up and coming. And then got that out of the way. And the rest of it was fine. And we’re all you know, fine and dandy and all that. So by the time my mom came out, we were all in a good place. And then we saw more stuff coming back because we did you know we did you know, Death Valley Grand Canyon bright, like amazing experience coming from LA on the way back. I mean, it was fun going out. But just the sights on the way back because we went kind of like south to LA and then kind of North ish on the way back. So there’s a total of about almost a month. And then this was instead of doing beach week, so I just graduated from high school and everybody has beach week you go away. So I was all salty, and like I don’t get to the beach because I got to be in a car with you pounds. Then I get to LA and have that and I’m like okay, like, I guess I guess this was better than beach we probably could have been so anyway,

george grombacher 4:19
it all works out. And you’ve got an awesome story.

Brian Haney 4:23
Oh my goodness.

george grombacher 4:26
I love it. Well, Brian, what’s what’s top of mind for you right now?

Brian Haney 4:32
You know, it’s man, there’s a lot of things and I and I want to kind of probably drill into the most salient ones. We’ve gone through some pretty interesting experiences even just this year because you have a bunch of things going on, you know, domestically in the world. He just kind of kind of got a lot that you know, a lot of factors influences and things kind of impacting everything and so specific to like the financial world. It’s I think the thing is, you know, how do we really stay calm, and stay connected to the things that are really important for decision making. And I think that’s really what we’re spending as much time on as we can, like in our practice, and just kind of in our world, like, hey, let’s cut through a lot of the noise, and really make sure that we are able to help stay focused on the things that are going to be really important. And then also, how do we kind of digest and figure out what the decision components are. Because I think, you know, a lot of times you kind of either get intentionally or unintentionally distracted, or things kind of balloon out into a different place that they don’t need to be in. And so, you know, I always feel like just first thing is, are, you know, let’s, let’s tear down these barriers to decision making, and make sure that we see things for what they are, so we can move forward. And you know, feel confident as we’re doing. So. I also big believer of, you know, don’t do anything out of fear, right? Not that negative emotions don’t have their place, because they do. But I usually say they’re indicators. They’re like warning lights on your dashboard, like, hey, negative emotion, I’m feeling less than whatever, fill in the blank, whatever emotion to use that as that moment to say, Okay, what’s going on? Let’s step back, let’s lean into this, put on tack and get to the bottom, so we can kind of really figure out what’s what’s happening. So yeah, I mean, I’ve seen, you know, I mean, whether it’s market stuff, whether it’s insurance, whether it’s just, you know, how do people really optimize cash flow? how do organizations grow? Invest? You know, all of these are not new decisions. But I think they feel like the variables have changed a lot. So in some respects, they have in a lot of respects, maybe they haven’t. So

george grombacher 7:02
yeah, I appreciate we are. There’s so much coming at us, you’ve got so much stuff beyond our control war in the Middle East and in, in Russia, and we’ve got inflation and high prices of gas, and food is more expensive than it’s ever been. And lions and tigers and bears, oh, my, and I’ve got the same stuff I’ve always had to deal with with family stuff and personal stuff and stuff in my head and in my body and everything else. So how do you tear down those barriers? How do you like, it’s like, okay, how do I strip everything away? And say, what is fundamentally important? And how do I just focus on that and tune tune it out?

Brian Haney 7:40
Yeah, I mean, I, I’ve, as a practice, try to, you know, certain routines and certain habits give, at least me, and then, you know, in a professional context, clients and people that I work with a better way to kind of gain clarity, and at least move to a better, healthier place. But I think the simplest part of that is a very, very intentional process of the most, you know, what I would say, are critical things, how you start your day matters more than any of us realize, right? If you start off bad, it’s very hard to course correct, and get it to be good, to literally just having a good routine in the morning to make sure that you are setting yourself up for success, mentally, emotionally, physically, that makes such a huge difference. I can’t, and I don’t think that that, you know, obviously what that can look like, is different for anybody, but just knowing Okay, I want to start every day off as best as humanly possible. And I can choose that I can control that even if it’s raining or, you know, whatever, as long as something’s not like physically on fire, usually you can, you can find a way to take some intentional steps that you’re starting off on. So that’s good. And I think the rest of it is just Yeah, making sure that there’s a process. So that way, when it comes to engaging in decision making, or and or examining the emotions, we’re able to apply something so that way, there are steps to take to, you know, engage and kind of get come out to the other end. And I think a lot of times, you know, that’s why I minored in psychology in college and I majored in journalism so you know, communicating as well as understanding how we think and just being able to apply some very good sound, tried and true principles and, and our process just kind of does that and keeps you balanced. But we also aren’t afraid to have conversations that I think maybe other people in our in our arena aren’t as comfortable having. But most of life is very emotional and it’s harder especially becomes the money one is the number one people fight, get divorced, all that other stuff. Right. So You know that? So how do we take all of that power away from it and make it something that’s not any of those negative things, but something that’s actually empowering, we can make those kinds of shifts? So I think, yeah, we just, we just do that. And we do that with a lot of intention. And, and the people that really work with us well, appreciate that. It’s a different approach. And I think it just helps. You know, it’s interesting to kind of see the cool thing about, you know, what are the all the unintended consequences of doing something simple, like helping somebody financially improve their lives, you know, you see benefits in other areas, you know, like, we go through some of these things, where I’m helping somebody, unpack why they have all these negative attachments to money, and emotional, whatever it is. And then you see that then translate into like, Oh, they’re treating their spouse a little bit better now as well. Like, maybe money wasn’t the only thing, these negative things were connected to health and all kinds of stuff. So that’s a long winded answer to what was a short question. But no, I

george grombacher 11:03
appreciate that very much. And I imagine that the answer is not, we sweep things under the, under the rug, and we we ignore these feelings.

Brian Haney 11:14
Yeah, I’m a big believer into leaning into the tension. You know, tension exists, pain exists, all these things exist, and they’re not. I don’t, you know, I think a lot of them, they’re not positive or negative, good or bad. They’re just, they’re like that, you know, again, warning light to your dashboard, their indicators. And so anything that indicates something’s going on, there’s an opportunity to then figure that out. And, you know, move through whatever that experience is to, to, you know, a better place. Or, you know, if it’s Sandy to unpack something, so I can get back to a good place to a place of balance or a place of peace or something like that, whatever it is. Yeah, I just, I don’t want to, don’t avoid things, lean into them. Because there’s always something good on the other side of whatever it is, may not be earth shattering breakthrough, but just going through the process itself is healthy, is healing is cathartic, and doing it enough time, then now you created that habit. And therefore, yet, I know I can keep doing this, and keeps working out there is a way to, you know, make this literally just a routine that becomes a part of your life. So,

george grombacher 12:31
yeah, I found that habits and routines, be it a morning routine, the end of your day routine. But what you’ve been talking about is how do I create a routine around? I’m experiencing a feeling that I don’t like, and now I create a routine of, I’m going to honor the way that I’m feeling if it’s, I’m nervous, or I’m ashamed about a decision that I’ve made. So you create a routine around actually dealing with it.

Brian Haney 12:58
Yes. Yeah. And I like how you ended that dealing with it. Because I think sometimes we’d like to talk about things. And it’s almost like, if we just talk about it, it deals with itself. And I’m not saying that, that may not be a part of it. But there is a big difference. You know, it kind of like the airing of grievances for anybody that loves Seinfeld, right? That sounds great and funny, but I don’t necessarily think it’s super productive in terms of being formative or addressing any of those grievances. And so it’s almost like, you know, I used to say this with salty language, but if somebody’s sitting in poop, you don’t want to go down and just sit next to them, and therefore you’re both sitting in poop. You’ll reach out your arm and you want to pull them out and be like, Hey, let’s go let’s, you know, wash ourselves off. And let’s, let’s find a way to get out of this. And so, yeah, I think I think dealing with with it, and we start to very quickly realize that that a lot of times, we just, you know, we are in many respects are the victims of our own kind of mind. You know, or just, you know, we’re ill trained in a lot of ways to know, okay, I don’t like do this, you know, think of my parents, you know, the way my mom was emotionally wired, she developed and helped me develop a lot of emotional intention, intelligence in my own life, but it was through her transition and alcoholism, right and then and sobriety. So I saw, you know, again, what a process whether it be 12 steps or anything right can do to help you change yourself. And it was a process that begins with introspection, right, and begins with dealing with stuff and therefore, you know, in knowing that there are stages and then you know, you go from one level to the next but it’s also just ocular, right, it doesn’t stop self improvement doesn’t, there’s no ceiling, you can keep getting better every single day your life. I think that that’s really, you know, these are just kind of core fundamental beliefs that I try to have. And I also then carry into our professional arena, because, again, you know, investment management, financial planning, insurance, all of these things, they seem very heavy, you know, doing employee benefits property, there’s, and there’s just a lot of stuff that’s, you know, not common language or, and again, not things that we’re all readily equipped to be really effective that. So how do we do that as a professional but, but get to the table first, where sometimes getting up to the table with a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with what you’re trying to deal with. I can’t be good as a professional in my mind, I’m not good at that other stuff. You know, somebody’s still bothered, and they got the emotions connected to some sort of decision, and they make the decision, but they didn’t dress the emotions. To me. That’s incomplete work on my end. So I try to, you know, be be really, really good and mindful.

george grombacher 16:11
I appreciate that. And that’s the term mindful. Do you think that people have a negative connotation about mindfulness? Is it kind of woowoo?

Brian Haney 16:25
Yeah, I think there’s definitely it lands that way. And then I think the other way is probably, like, it’s dismissive, not just because you don’t know what is mindfulness, I don’t unders, it doesn’t have a context. So yeah, I think that that’s another thing. You know, there are all kinds of words when it comes to psychology, behavior, emotions, on the other stuff. And so I think, being mindful of the words and the language, or just kind of figuring out where people are with that, but, you know, I think, you know, if I had to guess, a lot of us don’t know how to have a process of stepping back. And reflecting, you know, it, we’re, I think this is very societal, you know, I think the Americanized culture is a go, go go. There’s, there’s just, there’s a lot of things, a coming at us, but also that we’re expected to just kind of always be dealing with, you just don’t see a lot of things in places in our current culture, where people are like, Hey, let’s slow down. Let’s, you know, stay in the moment is not a lot of those habits, that exists too often, there are in other, you know, outside of the United States, I think that these exist in certain other parts of the world. So I think that that’s, you know, probably the biggest part as to where all that comes from. So, you know, just just kind of working in these simple things that obviously have big, big benefits can be a big help, you know, how do you? How do you address the psychology and unpack the things so that way we can I always say this. Everybody wants to make good financial decisions. Everybody does. Nobody comes to me and says, You know what, give me 10 million. I’m gonna blow it all tomorrow. It’s gonna be amazing. And then maybe I’ll get arrested on Thursday. Like, nobody says that. So we all want to make the right decisions. But the difference in the question is, why haven’t we why aren’t we? What’s stopping us? If we want to do this, we all kind of have the same general goal of doing the right thing with when it comes to money, what’s standing in our way? And I think that that’s, that’s where kind of that’s the intersection of what we’re talking about, is that a lot of times, it’s probably a lot more emotional than it is just a lack of data. More than when the digital economy, right? We none of us should lack data at this point. It’s how do I take the information, distill it down, make it relevant, and also work through things that, you know, up to this point in my life had been barriers to decision making shame, fear, all these things? Just make it harder to say? thumbs up thumbs down to something? Yeah.

george grombacher 19:19
I think that that makes a ton of sense. And it kind of brings us full circle to what you’re talking about. We need to be able to cut out the noise. And maybe another car reference talked about the check engine light coming on, well, if we’re redlining just in life, and I’m just like, constantly on tilt. I don’t have I don’t have the time or the ability to have that stillness to take that step back. Say, Okay, what do I really think about that? And can I really, you know, take time to think about how I’m feeling and what’s really most important, so I think that that it’s all really well said.

Brian Haney 19:57
I totally agree. Yeah, and then anything, you know, it’s hard sometimes to feel like what you’re doing is countercultural, but hopefully, I think that there seems to now be at least a recognition, you know, one of the things that was challenging coming out of the pandemic, but now coming into a different season of wherever we are in the world, and in global society is mental health is now taking a completely different place in the, in the infrastructure and the hierarchy of things that are that are, you know, front and center. And so we’re seeing, at least we’re reconciling the fact that we’ve all had collective trauma experienced. And whether you consider it a big T, or a little T, like trauma is also personal. You know, a lot of us can have that. So, but yeah, it’s back to that, you know, let’s, let’s also now see, like, I got to take care of my mental health, if I’m going to take care of a lot of these other things, I can’t put it to the side, and I’m seeing, you know, so much example of lending doesn’t get taken care of how how bad things can go, you know, and how things can fester and spin out of control. So I think we and I tend to, I tend to have a positive outlook on most things, I think, hopefully, this now, you know, repositioning of the need to examine mental health as part of a holistic approach to living better living a life of balance and, and purpose and mindfulness I think, can carry us forward, if we can continue to stay in this. Let it let it develop into something that allows us to maybe change elements of our culture, to create a better framework for us to live well, and maybe not be so go go go all the time. You know, I think the grinder mentality would used to be called right, I think that’s dying. And frankly, good riddance. It’s just now I think my own favorite things that I like to say, I’ll never regret the money I didn’t make. I will regret the time I didn’t spend with the people that I care about the most. And that’s just not it’s a truth I try to live by.

george grombacher 22:11
I think that that’s well said for sure. Yeah. Well, that was a good one, Brian, but we’re ready for your difference making tip. What do you have for us?

Brian Haney 22:21
All right, difference making tip. When it comes to money? answer two questions that I asked every single person that I work with, so that it reveals and unlocks kind of a path for you to go forward. Question is, on one side, what’s the best financial you’ve ever the best financial decision you’ve ever made? And why? And you want to really quantify that? What’s the worst financial decision you’ve ever made? And why on the other side, and you want to quantify that, because what that will give you is the answer to how you see money, and what you consider to be a good decision. Being able to then know that for yourself, makes you a much more effective architect. You know, so you can channel your choice architecture to say, you know, what, this is really how I’m wired, to evaluate myself and reflectively say, These things are positive. And also, you know, knowing the answer to the other side really helps you also know, where did I go out of bounds? What were the what were the context of that? Why do I think that that was a bad decision. And again, that, so that, bring those two together, I think that’s going to create a really good starting place, or just allow people to take that next step that next level in whatever their pursuits are, whether it comes to money or life in general. So I think that that’s hopefully a good helpful tip that maybe we haven’t asked, you know, maybe you haven’t really asked yourself those questions. Or if you have, do it again, you know, and really, really, really get down to the bottom of what the answers are.

george grombacher 23:57
I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets a con. That’s awesome, great choice architecture. It’s a great thought exercise. And to your point 100%. If that’s a question, if those are questions, you’ve asked yourself in the past, do it again. But I’m guessing the majority of us I don’t even know if I’ve ever thought about what’s the best financial decision I’ve ever made. And what’s the worst, but it’s easier to think about the worst one, but super, super, super valuable. Well, Brian, thank you so much for coming on, man. Where can people learn more about you? How can I engage with you?

Brian Haney 24:32
So I’m gonna I’m gonna give you two places to go. I am extremely visible and active on LinkedIn. So if you search for Brian Haney and add a couple of the designations after my name out, you’ll definitely be able to find me in there. That’s That’s my platform of choice. And I do also have a show as well a podcast if you want to listen to any, any of the fun interviews I’ve had with people like yourself and others, George. It’s been a lot of fun. That’s the Haney company. The financial guy go and it’s on just about every podcasting platform that exists I’m pretty sure so very findable in either of those two places. And you know, absolutely widely available if anybody has questions or wants to pontificate some of the stuff please reach out.

george grombacher 25:18
Love it. If you enjoyed as much as I did show Brian your appreciation share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas find Brian Haney B R I A n Haney on LinkedIn and throw in one of his many designations and he will pop right up and then check out the Haney company financial guy show wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks again, Brian. Thanks for having me on, George. Finally, a friendly reminder that there’s never going to be anybody more interested in your financial success than you are. So act accordingly.


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