Stan's World - Finding your happiness
When clients hire us as their personal financial advisors, we assume a multi-faceted role. Depending on the client’s needs, our responsibilities might include crafting a financial plan; putting together a balance sheet; examining cash flow and expenses; investing, managing, and rebalancing investment assets; linking up with related professionals on the team, to include attorneys and accountants; and a myriad of other actions. We want clients to be reassured; from simple questions to life-changing events, we’re here to help.
In terms of financial plans, there are many online programs available where you can input spending and asset information. In turn, you’ll receive a projection, outlining whether your assets and cash flows will cover your expenses for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, it’s never that simple, for the interpretation of the data often dictates whether a plan will work. Of even more importance, however, is whether the financial elements within that plan will help to bring you joy as you move through retirement.
There are, for example, times when a plan works on paper but should never be put into practice. There are times when the numbers fit neatly together, but for what purpose? If you’re going to spend your working years accumulating assets for retirement, shouldn’t you enjoy the years after you’ve stopped working? After all, what’s the point of working at a joyless job if you won’t benefit from the dollars you earned while doing so?
Along those lines, there are times when we, for want of a better term, have candid conversations with clients about their spending. While spending may bring someone happiness, it’s also possible that out-size spending will cause them to outlive their assets. There is no joy when one must sell a home far sooner than planned and then is severely limited in what they can afford to do.
We often try to elicit from clients whether the life that’s outlined on a spreadsheet is really the life they want to live. What if we could figure out how you could afford to move closer to your family? Would you do that while living in a smaller home? What if moving to a different community would allow you to spend more time fishing and hiking? What if you found a retirement community where you could feel safe, meet new friends, and engage in a host of new activities?
A financial plan should be interactive. Like investments, you don’t just set it and forget it. Life isn’t constant; why would your plan be?
Some clients are better at expressing their wishes than others because they know exactly what they want. “When I retire, I’m going to….” is a straightforward comment. In those instances, the money either works, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, our job is to try to fit the square peg into the round hole: How can we use the dollars you have to achieve the lifestyle you want to live?
If this sounds like a pitch for happiness, perhaps that’s because it is. Aging offers a different perspective on life. It allows seniors like me to use lessons I’ve learned from my life and the lives of our clients and apply those lessons to inform others.
We can’t control a lot, but we have a say in how we’ll live each day. If you’re thinking about a career change or a move, we’re here to help.