Do you like making gingerbread cookies?
Photo: Viktor Hanacek. Source: Picjumbo.
It’s a holiday tradition in our family: mixing, cooling, and rolling out the dough, cutting out and baking the shapes, then decorating the cookies with outlines, colors, and a personal touch. The smells that fill the kitchen are intoxicating: molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon. There’s nothing like it – although some enterprising candle companies have tried to generate the aroma in their jar candles.
But it’s not the cookies or the aroma that’s so attractive. It’s not even the process of rolling, cutting, baking, or decorating. It’s the unique character of each cookie – with sugar icing just the way we want, patterns and outlines and solids. It seems almost a shame when we consume them on Christmas Day.
Something in us recoils at uniformity, at endless rows of identical cookies or cakes or ornaments. When we get involved, we want to put a personal mark on our decorations, to make them unique, special, distinct. We want them to be our own.
It’s why each of us has our own singular approach to finance – an attitude and capacity for risk, a need for return and income, requirements for cash, our tax situation, the time (or lack of time) we have until we need the money, and other unique limitations and preferences. There are endless combinations of our financial needs and limitations.
This is why folks sometimes resent being put through a cookie-cutter approach to investments, into a pre-defined system that’s supposed to embody their hopes, fears, goals, and concerns. Saving for college? No problem, fund “C.” Concerned about global warming? There’s an app for that, fund “W.”
Life isn’t so simple. My life is unique to me. I have plans and goals that my family and I have worked out over years that can’t be summarized by a simple five-minute quiz on the computer.
We love cutting out cookies because we can make them our own. Our finances aren’t any less unique.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”