Meet Ned Ryerson

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who instantly knew who Ned Ryerson was the second they saw this email land in their inbox and those who didn’t. For those of you in the latter group, Ned Ryerson, aka Needlenose Ned, aka Ned the Head, is the incredibly annoying, former high school classmate of the main character in the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. In the movie, Murray plays Phil Connors, a cynical television weatherman covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Somehow, Phil becomes trapped in a time loop forcing him to relive the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again. For those of you who have never seen the movie, here’s a clip of some of the hilarious interactions between Ned and Phil that helped make the movie relatively famous.

Whether you’ve seen Groundhog Day or not, you may be surprised to learn that it was this movie (not the holiday) that popularized the usage of the term “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated over and over. Speaking of repeating, sometimes there are aspects of our personal finances that can feel a bit like Groundhog Day. They seem to come up again and again over months and even years. Usually, it’s something we know we should take care of but choose not to because we don’t feel like we have the time or because the emotional or financial “cost” feels too high. It could be anything from getting a handle on our spending to simplifying our investment accounts to putting together a financial plan.

My recent Groundhog Day experience involving my personal finances was a nagging feeling that I needed to get my family’s savings back on track (Crystal and I make all our financial decisions together but this one’s on me.) It all started when I left the relative comfort of my job at a big financial firm where I’d spent 14 years making a good living working as a financial advisor. After I got my CFP® designation, it became abundantly clear that if I was going to serve my clients in a way that I believed was best, I was going to have to do so elsewhere. It was also clear that Beacon was where I was supposed to be but making the move meant that I’d basically have to start over.

Beacon was a small, independent planning firm so it didn’t come with the big salary and signing bonuses that are often associated with moves to large Wall Street investment firms. Plus, I’d signed a two-year non-compete clause with my previous company which meant that I couldn’t ask any of my clients to come with me. (Thank you to those of you who did, I am forever grateful!) In my first year at Beacon, I made $23,255. That was before the cost of health insurance and the expenses associated with building a business, so I probably netted half of it. There I was, starting over at 39 years old, about to get married and (unbeknownst to me) start having kids! Crystal and I felt strongly about one of us staying at home, so for the first few years we supplemented my income with money we’d saved before we were married. As Ryan said in last week’s Friday Brief, making the necessary sacrifices to be at Beacon has turned out to be a great investment professionally, financially and for my clients but it did mean that our pattern of regular saving got off track in the early years.

If I managed my family’s finances perfectly, I’d be able to tell you that we started saving regularly again as soon as my income got back to normal. In reality, we began saving again in fits and starts. We’d do well for a year only to stop and divert our savings to some home project the next. We all do that occasionally, but honestly, the fact that Crystal and I had saved a decent amount prior to our marriage made us feel all too comfortable taking our foot off the savings gas pedal on a regular basis. Life was pretty busy so it took me a while to realize that not having our savings on track was creating stress in my life. It started as a to do list item but grew to become a gnawing feeling that was beginning to occur more and more regularly when I’d stop to consider our personal finances.  It had become my personal finance version of Ned Ryerson, showing up time and time again, annoying me with a Groundhog Day like effect.

Once I realized this, Crystal and I took the appropriate steps to get back on track with our savings. Much of it involved simply doing the things I know (and advise others to do.) Things like pay yourself first, automate your savings and direct them to the right types of accounts (that are oftentimes harder to access than a regular savings account.) Our family is back on track with our savings goals and I’m happy to say that I no longer have that gnawing feeling when I consider my family’s finances. A big step in the direction of financial freedom!

What’s your personal finance issue that makes you feel like it’s Groundhog Day? Is it knowing that you need to create a will and estate documents, wondering if you’ll have enough saved to retire comfortably or could it be simply needing to get your savings back on track? Believe me, whatever the issue, it’s worth addressing. Please let us know if we can help.

By the way, this Tuesday is Groundhog Day. Anybody want to venture a guess as to how accurate Punxsutawney Phil (our country’s most famous groundhog) has been over the years at predicting the end of winter? Around 40%. Less accurate than a coin flip but better than most stock market prognosticators!


Geoff Hall, CFP®
[email protected]

My wife, Crystal, and I have been married for 11 years and have two kids, Cooper (10) and Rhodes (8.) When I’m not spending time with them you might find me downtown serving at our church, pushing my limits during a mountain bike ride or having coffee with a friend in the Five Points area. I've been a financial advisor for 29 years and I'm thankful for the privilege of shepherding my family of clients through the ups and down of the markets, and of life for that matter.