“The Balancing Act”

As we enter Michigan’s beautiful fall season, we remember that it is the uniqueness of life’s seasons that create opportunities for us to reflect on our experiences and learn from our past. There is a time for everything: Ecclesiastes 3 of the Christian Bible reiterates exactly that. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” As a financial planner I will add one of my own – a time to store and a time to use.

When evaluating a retirement plan or a wealth savings plan, people tend to focus on maintaining the standard of living they had while they were engaged in the workforce. This can sometimes be very difficult, because they are no longer generating income and solely relying on their retirement income and savings. This becomes a delicate balancing act as we transition from the season of work into the season of retirement.

A time to store

Some investors have done an amazing job of living within their means during their employment years. Typically, this allows for them to aggressively “store” their money in many different savings vehicles. What is very interesting about these savers is that some have a very difficult time when it comes to spending their assets for enjoyment during retirement. They have lived in such a way during their working years to save for retirement, that they have developed habits of not spending. This makes for an exemplary financial client; but it doesn’t always make for the retirement they’ve planned.

A time to use

I encourage potential retirees, especially if they are married, to sit down with their financial planner and really map out their joint vision of retired life. The “balancing act” that ensues during retirement is that of living for the now and experiencing life to the fullest, while also planning for the future. Hiking the Grand Canyon is something that can be done by many 65-year-old retirees, but can become a big challenge for someone age 75, and almost an impossibility for people in their 80s. Make sure you plan to take your trips while you can still enjoy them. This is the time to “use!”

If you are a “storer” who hasn’t transitioned into a “user,” well, there are two things I would urge you to do. First, call me for a meeting, because the chances are good that you would make a wonderful client (just kidding). Second, really think about the assets you have left, the time you have left, and the family you have surrounding you. If you are 75, and have a sizeable portfolio, you could have about 7-9 years left to enjoy your hard-earned wealth. Spend this time using the money to create experiences and memories with your children and grandchildren. The old adage, “you can’t take it with you” is very true, but you can leave a legacy of love and generosity. A time to store, and a time to use … work with your financial advisor to develop your retirement game plan. It will be time well spent.