Practice Asking the “Why” Questions

Practice Asking The Why Questions2

I have a question for you.

Now, this will work best if you grab a piece of paper, and write out your answer.

Here’s the question:

Why is your money invested the way it is?

Before you go on, write down your answer on that paper.

I’ve had a blast with this question over the last few years. Man Having Questions

I’ve asked it on planes and trains, in coffee shops, and over lunch, and the answers I get are crazy.

Things like:

“There was an article in the New York Times about it.”


“My buddy told me about it.”


“They talked about this investment on The Financial Pornography Network. Oops, I mean CNBC.”

But none of these answers are correct. There is — and indeed only ever will be — one right answer to the question.

“My money is invested in a way that gives me the greatest chance of meeting my goals.”

Of course, the hard part is pausing long enough in this crazy world to even hazard a guess at what your goals are in the future.

I know, I know, ain’t nobody got time for that!  

But I’d submit that without that, you can’t invest at all (but you can speculate).

Without a diagnosis, you can’t get a prescription.

There are other, fun “why” money questions:

  • Why do you spend the way you do?
  • Why are you saving as much as you are?
  • Why do you think you need X before you do Y?

These are all useful questions, and they all have one thing in common:

The answer that matters is yours!

Not your buddy’s.

Not what you see on Insta-Twitter-Book.

Just yours!

So, back to your piece of paper.

I suggest keeping it around to act like an annoying little reminder to get clear and stay clear, about the reason you’re doing what you’re doing with your money.


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Carl Richards


Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at

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