Monday, November 18, 2013

Financial goals are a ‘marathon rather than a sprint'

A good friend of mine recently participated in the New York marathon. During our discussion, it occurred to me that financial planning is much like a marathon race. Fulfilling financial goals tends to be a marathon rather than a sprint.

As a financial advisor, I’m much like a trainer helping a runner prepare for a marathon. The goal may be funding a college education for a child or grandchild, or building a sufficient retirement nest egg. When you’re a seasoned veteran like me, it’s personally rewarding to see a couple financially comfortable in retirement. Especially when they thank me because they couldn’t have done it without my guidance.

I’m not patting myself on the back, I just feel fortunate to have a career in something I’m passionate about.  And the reality is that not everyone is going to achieve their goals, often because something goes horribly wrong during the marathon.

That’s why every plan should have contingencies to be prepared for the unexpected curve balls that come in life.

You shouldn’t go on a boat without life jackets or drive a car without seat belts, but too many people set and work toward their financial goals without the proper safety precautions. Proper planning allows you to adjust your stated goals and objectives when obstacles arise.

Death, disability and the need for long-term care are examples.  Nobody likes to talk about these issues, but they need to be discussed and incorporated into the planning process.

Many people believe that life insurance is only for those with young children. Well, parents with young children do need life insurance. But college educations shouldn’t be shelved because mom or dad died unexpectedly. I could make a mathematical argument that anyone with a child should have a minimum of $500,000 of life insurance protection. But life insurance should not be just for those with young children.

It may surprise some, but people over 50 purchase a significant amount of life insurance. One overlooked benefit is instant liquidity, which can prevent a family from an untimely sale of an asset because of death. like being forced to sell real estate at below market values.

Today there are even life policies that can offer double duty. By that I mean using the death benefit as a living benefit. For instance, if you needed long-term care, you could use the life policy death benefit value to help fund the astronomical cost.  You don’t have to meet St. Peter to collect on your life insurance.

While you’re employed, disability income protection is also important. Your largest investment is likely yourself and your education. If you couldn’t work, how would the bills be paid?  For many, lack of disability coverage is a gaping hole in their financial planning.

Life is a marathon in which we’d all love to cross the finish line in relatively good health. But life doesn’t always work that way. Some won’t cross the finish line and others will need assistance. But every one of us needs to incorporate the unthinkable into their financial planning.

It is easy to overlook, neglect and rationalize why life insurance isn’t needed.  But nobody can predict what roadblocks they’re going to encounter along the marathon of life. If you want to be prepared, you have to plan for them.

1 comment:

  1. As a younger married couple (24 and 25), my wife and I are facing many of the decisions that you categorize as '30s' in our '20s.' It is difficult, but worth it. We are able to utilize our 20s in such a way that will hopefully set us up for success earlier since we recognize that we are facing 'the big and important' decisions now, and as a team! So a friend told us about but before we jump into anything to crazy what do you think we should do? We currently have advisors elsewhere, but they are kind of jealous they don’t want people to work with other people. However, my friend says the Mutual Fund Store is not like that. So just wondering what you think.