Good Planning Leads to Personal Peace

Laurie Dubchansky Personal Finance

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending our son’s graduation from a master’s degree program. Filled with pride, our family ventured east to celebrate with him. As I packed, I realized how much preparation there is for a family to travel across country.  Our group has varying needs, as we range in age from 26 to 85. Of course, we made travel plans: air flights a few months ahead and car rides just before departure. Our daughter booked an apartment for our family for our four-night stay. The apartment made our trip much more comfortable, and economically it was a smart move too. Our son brought food to the apartment, planned the outings and a lovely Mother’s Day brunch at one of my favorite restaurants. We attended two graduation ceremonies and planned well enough to arrive early!  A group of six requires a few texting conversations… Figuring out where to meet a Lyft driver in a crowded neighborhood requires planning too!

Lesson learned: Planning for a group means everyone will be more relaxed. Relaxed travelers make happy travelers!

While away for a couple of work days, I realize the value of planning in life and in personal  finance too. Recently, I had a joyous phone call from a client. She saved enough money to deal with an unexpected expense. Sometimes it takes time to educate clients of the value of saving, and I heard appreciation and the willingness to restore her emergency fund and save for a home!  She admitted feeling so much more relaxed and in control because she had saved.

Clients with children in middle school are now thinking about the expenses of college and exploring options for funding. While their children are 11 and 14, we have a few years of planning which can only lead to better outcomes.

Pre-retirees want to know if they “have enough.”  There are several aspects to a financial plan, and thorough analysis is needed to cover all possible outcomes.  Some brokerage firms run TV commercials asking this question in the hopes viewers will seek those companies for counsel. There can be a big difference between what a fee-only financial planner (with a fiduciary oath) does and what brokerage firms do!

Retirement savings requires planning! A client had questions on saving in an IRA account while also participating in a workplace 401(k).  Check out this article for a good explanation on limitation of deductible IRA accounts while “Putting money in a 401k and IRA at same time.”  There are income limitations for deductible IRA accounts and Roth accounts! If your income is still beneath these limits, I recommend you take advantage of this great opportunity!  If you earn beyond those income limits, I recommend you maximize savings in pre-tax workplace accounts and if you can, continue to save in a taxable account.

Retirees often need to plan to control their spending, to insure their assets will last for their remaining years. Helping clients stay on-track with their plans means greater security and peace in their lives.

For me, planning is a passion at work and far beyond the office. This weekend I saw plenty of evidence to prove our adult children are good planners.  We had such a peaceful few days, which is not be taken for granted when traveling with a group!