For Security & Joy in Old Age, Develop a Personal Financial Game Plan


It's tax time-ugh!-which got us thinking that we might want to engage in some smart financial planning, not for each day, week or month but an overarching plan so we can enjoy each day without worrying about money and what lies ahead.

Many of us have dreams: going on an African safari to see animals in their natural habitat, swimming in the oceans off the coast of Australia, owning a second home in Paris where we can eat and sip wine under the stars, having a surgical full facelift or eyes tweaked or a buying a cute Audi convertible or Tesla. These are extravagances. And if you can afford them and make them part of your financial plan, go for it and invite us along. And if you can't, we sympathize but you'll survive.

But that's not what we're talking about here. This is about having security and joy, not over the top purchases. Financial planning or life planning or whatever terminology you use is the best tool on the table to get to this place.

We are planners, although we espouse in our blogs and books to live in the moment. Both approaches are important--we plan our day, plan an event, plan a trip, plan a meal-and when it comes to finances, we feel planning for what's ahead is the only way we won't be caught short or end up depriving ourselves of certain things that make us happy, or something we might need or want down the line.

Having such a plan creates a sense of control. It means we run the show hopefully with professional financial guidance.

For Barbara this might be an annual winter getaway and a yearly trip with her kids and grandkids, as well as continuing to contribute to her favorite charities and adding to the 529 college plans she started when each grandchild was born.

For Margaret, it would be spending one winter month a year in a warm climate, living well in New York City but sensibly so she can leave the bulk of her estate to her three children, setting aside enough for her long-term care if she needs it, and being able to donate to the charities she cares most about.

For Barbara's late mother her vision meant having a new adventure. At age 75, three years after her husband died, she sold the family suburban New York home and moved to New York City to be close to family in a roomy apartment with a stunning view of water but nothing over the top. She had a wonderful but sensible life that included walking to the Metropolitan Museum weekly, attending concerts and going to her temple. Nice dinners out weren't important except when she could go with her granddaughters and their friends or later their spouses and children.

However, as we think about the future, how many of us have drafted a feasible financial plan which means saving and investing and cutting back where needed to achieve our daily and long-term goals and objectives.

Whitey Holt, CFP(r), CDFA(r), Wealth Manager, Plaza Advisory Group, Inc. in St. Louis, MO, explains the difference between goals and objectives and their importance. "Goals are strategic in nature and provide the overarching direction of what someone wants to accomplish in life. Everyone has standard goals, having enough to retire/live on in retirement, having a residence, having healthcare covered, and reliable transportation." So, he says, we state our goals that are realistic like buying a home or car. "These goals need to be secured first because when these are threatened, it is hard to keep focus and accomplish anything else."

Objectives are the steps that need to be done to get someone closer to completing a goal," says Holt. "Someone with the goal of 'being more charitably minded' might want to explore these objectives:

  *   Identify the charities and missions you want to support;

  *   Determine what amount of time and financial resources you want to commit;

  *   Review the most efficient ways for you to donate to the charity,

  *   After some time has passed, reflect on how to make the whole process easier and better for all parties.

  *   Monitor progress and change things if needed."

As time passes, it's important to revisit goals and objectives, to be flexible and tweak or make big changes when necessary. Says Holt, "As these standard goals are achieved, new goals can and should be considered, Goals can change with life stages and also as life itself changes, so it can be good to review and reflect on your aspirations."

For those needing a muse or resources, Holt recommends two good ones:

Master list of goals: Master List of Goals 2022.pdf<>

George Kinder's Three Questions: Life Planning: The three kinder questions - The Physician Philosopher<>

But many of us don't take the time to draft a financial plan with or without professional guidance for all sorts of reasons. We know people who think they don't need to do so and prefer to live by the seat of their pants or simply put it off until they absolutely must.

Much like the family business owners we talked to about succession planning in our first book, Corporate Bloodlines: The Future of the Family Firm, some said they were so consumed with day-to-day operations that they didn't have time to think about planning for what-ifs and long-term goals. And some refused to talk about plans with heirs in the business or an objective outsider advisor. Some of us tend to do the same with our financial planning. Who has time? It seems so far off. It will be too expensive. Far better to focus on what's happening right now!

Yet, often without good planning, we're caught with our pants down. We can't afford what we want when it matters--that HVAC upgrade, a bathroom renovation because the shower leaks, a trip with our kids whom we rarely see or a new home all on one level so we can comfortably age in place and have help in when essential. Do we borrow at our advanced ages and incur more debt? Or take from our retirement savings? You decide.

Good financial planning is about the future and will allow us to enjoy our lives each day without letting the well run dry. And that means you'll sleep much better at night and can realistically start planning for Paris, the Caribbean or that cute convertible. Maybe, you'll even get more than one of your wishes to come true.

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