1. Organize: Start putting together an inventory of investment accounts, legal docs, insurance policies, other assets and liabilities. At PSG, not only do we help our clients get organized but we provide them with an online portal called the “PSG Dashboard” where this information can be accessed at any time with real-time updated values and copies of important documents.
2. Build a Financial Model with a CFP: This is the most important step in my opinion. Work with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER to model the rest of your life. As I talked about in my prior blog post, this should be an INTERACTIVE and DYNAMIC plan built around your plans for now and the future. Once built, you can test various “what-if” scenarios to plan for life’s uncertainties that can occur. Finally, plan for a long life. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Jeanne Calment, a French women born in 1875 who lived to 122 years old. While we’ll never know the secret to her long life, we do know long life expectancies are more and more common.
3. Re-evaluate Investments for Downside Risk: Ask yourself, what is more important, beating the S&P 500 index or knowing you can put your kids through college and retire at 65? You probably remember the tech bubble or housing collapse. A smart investment strategy can help you avoid those risks when you will need your savings the most.
Most of the time clients can reduce risk. We show you where your risks lie and build solutions to lower risk. For some we will even implement “private pension” solutions that provide a source of guaranteed income for your basic needs. Investing doesn’t have to be an emotional rollercoaster if you have a plan. If you have a plan, you won’t follow the pattern of fear and greed below:
4. Evaluate Good vs. Bad Debt: Some debt can be good for you. Why payoff low rate tax deductible debt? Or why payoff student loans that may be forgiven with portfolio assets that will be needed to provide income?
5. Accelerate Savings: Recently an empty nester? Finally done with college costs for the kids? Ramp up your savings and discuss the best ways to save. 401ks, tax deferred investments, Roth IRA’s, Traditional IRAs and annuities are just some of the vehicles to save. Which one is best depends on your unique circumstances. Understanding how to invest in these vehicles comes back to your plan. If you only need 4% to achieve your goals, you have no business investing in all stocks. While a 9% return will only make you a little richer, a 40% loss can ruin your future!
6. Long Term Care – The Elephant in the Room: Consider long term care needs while you are young and rates are cheaper. Look at your parent’s situation, will they need to live with you? What happens when the husband passes away and the wife develops Alzheimer’s? Too few advisors have these serious conversations with their clients. A great financial planner will not hesitate.
7. 9-1-1 Plan for the Unexpected and the Family Meeting: Many of you know of someone who passed away suddenly. Rarely is death expected. Now is the time to envision a life where you aren’t here. Is your spouse prepared to handle the family finances? Will your children be affected? Do you have legacy goals to leave your children off better than you? Use this exercise to re-evaluate your insurance and estate plan, then begin educating your children on how to make intelligent financial decisions by holding a family meeting with your financial planner.
8. Get Realistic About Retirement Spending: Plan for a spike in spending in the early years. What expenses won’t you have now that work is done? Where will you spend more? No one likes the “b” word, but a retirement “budget” can help you plan for your golden years. Our new “PSG Dashboard” features a built in spending tool to help you analyze where you spend the most to help you stay on track.
9. Optimize Social Security: Social Security will become your largest asset in retirement. Making the right decision is critical. Work with a CFP to develop an optimal plan 1-2 years before retiring. Taking benefits too soon could permanently reduce your benefits. Earning too much income could cause benefits to be withheld. Waiting too long could cause your portfolio to deplete to much. Each individual’s circumstances are unique. There is no one size fits all solution to social security.
10. Incorporate Happiness into your Plan: The numbers are important, but as a great financial planner, my job is to help you enjoy your life’s savings. If you find joy by spending on yourself, think about hobbies, vacations, remodeling projects or where you will live and build these into your long term plan. If you find joy by helping others, then live by the wise Chinese proverb below:
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Steve joined Planning Solutions Group in 2015 and specializes in providing comprehensive financial plans to high-net worth individuals and families. During his career he has realized that his true passion is for building long-term relationships with clients and helping them through the various financial challenges they may face. Steve’s mission is to act as a true advocate for his client’s financial well-being.
Prior to joining Planning Solutions Group, Steve spent four years as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Keeney Financial Group in Columbia, MD. He has also had the privilege of working for Convergent Wealth Advisors, Legg Mason and NVR, Inc. Steve currently holds the prestigious CFP® designation and has his FINRA series 7 and life and health insurance licenses.
In addition to providing clarity and confidence in all financial matters to his clients, Steve is passionate about giving back to the community. He currently lives in Baltimore City with his new wife and spends his free time rock climbing, travelling, cooking and volunteering with The Associated, a Jewish Philanthropic organization. To email Steve: firstname.lastname@example.org