At Erickson Advisors, we say Plan Now, Live Now for a reason. We believe your financial plan should inform your investment management, not the other way around. And, if you are planning today, you are actively living in the moment with intention.
We get it though. Many people think of their financial life in vague terms. The future is opaque and, quite frankly, many people would rather focus on the here and now of expenses, cash flow and immediate finance. When that’s all figured out, there will be time to think about the future, right? Not exactly…
This avoidance of thinking about your financial planning and retirement, as understandable and human as it is, is not the course we recommend. The ideal time to plan for a healthy financial future is really the here and now. It does not matter where you are on the spectrum of “how much do I have to work with?” Much more important than waiting for that opportune moment to begin planning is know the why, the how, and the goals of your plan.
You can start now with small, incremental, and continuous steps that are important and work into the big picture of YOUR PLAN.
So, That Word “Plan”
For some of us, the word “plan” is music to our ears. For others, it’s nails on a chalkboard. To those plan-resistant folks, this word may bring up unpleasant associations that, on the surface, can be terrifying. When they start digging into planning for their future, though, many people find more comfort, and even excitement, than they, well, planned to.
Financial planning absolutely should be done while you are trying to live your best life, which will have overlaps in responsibility and focus – raising a family, caring for an aging family member, running a business, or working hard at whatever you do…need we go on? Your life is happening now, so plan for it now!
If you let the idea of preparing fo your financial future get too big (and thus intimidating), or if you wait until you have the time, energy, or “enough” money, then it just won’t get done. After over thirty years of working with clients across financial means and spectrums, believe us when we say, now is the time.
However, the common trend is to do this the other way around. People invest first and plan later. The idea is that they will save up enough money to then be able to make a solid financial plan. More times than not, these folks under-save and overspend in the crucial working years of their adult life.
Catch Up Stinks!
It’s never too late to start planning, but when people wait so long that they have to play the “catch up” game (and that is often when we get the call), we have to work through some hard truths with individuals about where they are an how they can work to get where they want to be. And it doesn’t matter whether you make $40,000 or $400,000 a year. Spending just seems to rise with income like boats with the tide. What you don’t want to happen is to get used to a lifestyle and then find yourself having to sharply adjust downward in later years. Keeping the lifestyle you have grown accustomed to takes thoughtful savings, investing and a PLAN.
What if I’m Doing Just Fine?
If you are one of the lucky ones reading this and thinking, “None of this applies to me. I have plenty now and there’s no reason to think that won’t change in the future” (we’re jealous already!), it is still worth investing with intention. Here are some questions you may want to consider:
- What is your risk tolerance level?
- What will you need for income in ten or twenty years? In thirty?
- Do you have a vision for what you want to give to charity, or leave for your family after your death?
- Is it important that your investing align with your values? Do you know if your current investments do align?
- What tax strategies could you be utilizing to enhance your investment goals?
- Do you have life insurance and how is it structured?
- Are there life events on the horizon, such as divorce or a career change, that might alter your current circumstances?
This list of things to consider when making a financial plan is certainly not exhaustive, but you can begin to think about how focused planning now can shape your future. For these and many other considerations, it’s best to plan first, then invest in ways that will make your money really work for you.
The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change with or without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors cannot invest directly in indexes. The performance of any index is not indicative of the performance of any investment and does not take into account the effects of inflation and the fees and expenses associated with investing.
For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.