Trail Financial Planning, LLC is a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm located in Bellingham, WA

What matters to a kid

What matters to a kid

This blog is loosely themed – “financial matters that matter.”  Usually, I constrain my posts to finances.  This post is a little different, although still about what matters.  

When I heard that Chadwick Boseman had died this past weekend, I felt as though living just got kicked in the gut. 

I saw the movie, Black Panther, in the theater, with my family.  I loved it – the action, the characters, the complex narrative, the African-themed setting. 

Outside the theater, I got to witness a more powerful drama.  I ran into a friend and teaching colleague, Chris, with his three boys.  Chris and his boys are black.  My family is white.  They had also just emerged from the superhero epic.  We chatted, talked about the movie.  We hadn’t met each other’s kids, so we had proud papa introductions.

“How did you like the movie?” I asked one of his boys.

I could say that his face lit up at the question.  But, that would be an understatement.  He was already elated.  When I asked him the question, he answered with words, but his passion was communicated through his body.  He stretched tall.  The crown of his head reached high and his face beamed.  It was as if he wanted to make a pronouncement from the tallest perch that his 11 year-old frame would allow.  His eyes fixed on mine, and he proclaimed,

“It was awesome!” 

Oops, wrong font.  It was more like,

“It was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!”

I was moved.  I got to see the raw power of a kid encountering inspiration, encountering a new group of heroes and role models.  I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box, but it was not difficult to make the connection between the color of Matt’s sons’ skin, and the skin colors of the actors in the movies.  

Race Matters.  

Chadwick Boseman Matters.

Black Lives Matter.

I saw a message today from former President Obama, that also moved me:

Chadwick came to the White House to work with kids when he was playing Jackie Robinson.  You could tell right away that he was blessed.  To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years.

“…What a use of his years.”  – Barack Obama

When kids look to adults for how to be in this world, they look at all of us.  We all matter.  However, when a kid identifies a role model, someone who they aspire to become, I think they look for someone who looks like them.  Someone they could imagine being one day.  Thus, it is vital that we have stories told by a diverse cast of actors, stories lived by a diverse set of minds, stories imagined by a diverse set of leaders.

Identity matters.  I did not always think this way.  As a young man, I thought that a person’s identity should be separated from a person’s ability and role.  I questioned policies to create diversity just for the sake of diversity.  However, as I spoke to more and more people who did not share my same background, my same privilege, I was struck, and continue to be struck, by how often issues of equity, discrimination, societal bias flow into everyday conversations.  Identity matters.        

As I learn about Chadwick’s life, work, and impact, I am considering my impact on people and the planet.  What am I doing to build a compassionate community?  What am I doing to support the next generation?  What am I doing to create the culture I want to live in?  

I value such questions.  They are precursors to a conversation about the life my family is leading, and the life we want.  Financial planning is sometimes called financial life planning, because it is the exploration of how to best use your resources to live a fulfilled life.  How do you want to live your life?  How can your finances support that life? 

Chadwick Boseman’s death is heart-wrenching.  It is also an opportunity to reflect: 

How will I use my years?


John Chesbrough

John is a financial planner and investment manager. He, along with his business partner Elizabeth Snyder, founded, a fee-only, independent financial advisory firm called Trail Financial Planning (Trail FP) in Bellingham, WA. John and Liz enjoy working with people who care for others and their community – parents, firefighters, therapists, doctors, nurses, and teachers. They work with people by appointment. To learn more, or to schedule some time with John or Liz directly, please visit