Someone once said, “When values are clear, decisions are easy.” When people come to see us, and we begin to discuss their goals and objectives, they often ask, “What do most people say?” This question is one of the questions I hear most often during an initial consultation.
The process of defining one's personal financial goals is foreign to most people, and many have a hard time putting them into words. However, we believe your plans should be developed based on your values and priorities, not on those of your peers.
We often take direction from our friends and family on where to eat or where to vacation. Ask yourself, have their suggestions worked out every time? If you are like me, the answer is probably “No.” As well-meaning as they are, or as close as you feel their situation is to yours, everyone's situation is unique and different. When it comes to planning for the college education of your children or your long-awaited retirement, the only financial values that need to be defined are your own.
To help you think about this planning philosophy, I want you to think about the time, energy, and planning you put into your last vacation. If you are like me, you are looking forward to a time to travel once again. Once you buckled into your seat on the plane, did you ever worry that the pilot was going to take you to a completely different destination? On some level, we understand the pilot and crew are utilizing pre-flight checklists, communicating with air traffic control, and following a precise flight plan.
For the most important goals for you and your family, are you following checklists and precise financial plans? Sadly, more planning usually occurs for a one-week vacation and a four-hour flight to Florida than for the substantial amounts needed for college or lengthy retirement.
Most find themselves on the doorstep of retirement without knowing where they want to live, how they want to spend their time, or where they will derive their sense of purpose. If there is no clear goal, it is impossible to outline a detailed plan to ensure you stay the course.
Furthermore, if there are no clearly defined values, there can be no clear goals. Do you want to be able to visit your grandchildren who live out of state? Have you planned for these types of expenses? If one wants to support local charities, can they do so freely, knowing they can do so without jeopardizing their retirement?
This month, I am celebrating my 13th anniversary in this industry. During all those years, I have never met two families with identical values. Therefore, I have never met two families with identical goals.
Many of us have had more time over the last year for reflection. Even if you have not clearly defined your goals and values, now may be a perfect time. If you would like to schedule a complimentary initial consultation to start the process of defining and achieving your financial goals, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the University of Michigan, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.