Why You Should Plan Now to Afford Your Dreams
by David White | Contributor
I once had a client who passed away about six months after retirement at age 65. His wife told me, “He’d always promised me we’d travel after he retired.” To this day, she still hasn’t been out of the country. Everyone’s “bucket list” is different, so whether it’s building that getaway house at the lake or the mountains where you and your kids and grandkids can all be together or taking a dream vacation around the world, you’re working to reach your individual long-term goals.
As a wealth advisor, it’s my job to help my clients grow their money, but it’s not just to accumulate wealth. My mission is to help them afford their dreams. It’s important that clients build that trip or home into their finances from the beginning. Make it a part of the plan. As I evaluate your financial situation, I try to look at the long-term projections and evaluate “Are you on track?” along the way. You have to build those large expenses into the overall financial plan, and make them a priority.
You can’t, however, reconcile your expenses after the fact. Clients can get into trouble when they aren’t dealing with their own financial reality to begin with. I’ve had clients go ahead and make large-item purchases and then come in to get my assurance their financial future is still in good shape. That may be too late.
It’s best for you to talk with a professional first to really examine the cost of your decisions. A financial advisor can help you quantify the financial impact of those large-item purchases and help you project into the future to examine how the expense will affect you long-term. I try to help clients consider alternate scenarios (maybe a condo instead of a house?) and to discuss if there’s enough benefit to make it worthwhile. There are also considerations to make in your estate planning, especially when it comes to property. What we call a ‘legacy property’ may not necessarily be the legacy your children want to take on. The client needs to look at the big picture and plan beyond the first generation.
My wife and I are currently building a house in east Texas. We had to talk with our daughters to see if they even have an interest in keeping the property after we’re gone. I recommend that, if a property is being passed down to the next generation, that the ownership be held in trust and that there are provisions in the estate plan for the children to take it over and mechanisms for one sibling to be able to buy out others, for example.
There’s a George Strait song that says, “I ain’t never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.” I think of those words as I plan and enjoy traveling with my wife now. We strive to return each time more relaxed and with lifelong memories.
Editor’s Note: David White is a wealth advisor and partner with SFMG Wealth Advisors, an independent wealth management firm. He has over 30 years of experience in comprehensive wealth management, investment management, retirement planning, and asset protection planning. You can reach him at sfmg.com or 972.960.6460