February 12, 2016

Failing to Plan

Credit: David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I don’t know about you, but the beginning of the year is when I usually do my greatest amount of planning. New Year’s resolutions, vacation itineraries, home improvement lists, and fitness routines can currently be found in my personal effects. Maybe I’m too rigid. Maybe I’m not spontaneous enough. What can I say? I need a plan of attack. Without one, I feel lost.

A lot of people I meet for the first time seem to view financial planning like a trip to the dentist. It’s not always fun, and you might not look forward to it, but it is necessary to keep your teeth clean and avoid a root canal. I’m no dentist, but I do firmly believe financial planning is necessary to accumulate and grow your assets, and to avoid the many financial potholes lurking around out there.
  • Consider someone facing the huge burden of paying for their child’s college tuition the next four years versus someone who started a 529 Plan for their child eighteen years ago.
  • Consider someone who wants to retire a year from now, but can’t possibly maintain their lifestyle in retirement versus someone who implemented a debt-reduction plan ten years ago so they could coast into retirement debt-free.
  • Consider someone who made a generous charitable contribution the year after they retired when they were in a low tax bracket versus someone who more strategically made a generous charitable contribution right before they retired when they were in a high tax bracket.
  • Consider the family of someone who is left in a coma after a tragic automobile accident with no estate plan in place versus the family of someone who took the time to execute a will, a Power of Attorney, and a Health Care Directive.
  • Consider the family of someone killed in an automobile accident who never wanted to bother with the health questionnaire for life insurance versus the family of someone who made sure their family would be financially secure in the worst of circumstances.
Oftentimes it is better to be lucky than good, but I’m not always that lucky. I need peace of mind and confidence in my family’s financial security. I’m a firm believer in Ben Franklin's famous words that "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."
Just as a dentist can help a toothache, people often come to me at a time of financial crisis like imminent retirement, unexpected termination, a surprise job offer, a birth, a health tragedy, a death, or a divorce. Yes, I can certainly help, but it’s much easier and there are so many more options if you plan ahead. Maybe it’s me, but I prefer flossing a little along the way and having a few checkups every year to a painful toothache and a drill!

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