Holland Column

Retirement & Financial Planning

Holland Financial

Who’s the Captain of Your Financial Boat?

Your husband loves boating. You aren’t really interested in it, so you haven’t taken the time to learn the fundamentals of operating the boat. Nevertheless, you go along for the ride. Late one afternoon, the two of you are out on the ocean when tragedy strikes! A sudden wind gust catches your husband off guard. He loses his balance, slips and hits his head on the deck. You try talking to him, but he’s out cold. You fumble for the marine radio handset, trying to remember how it works. You’re not sure if anyone can hear your cries for help. Nervously, you grab the boat’s steering wheel and throttle, and stare at all the instruments and buttons. In desperation, you yell out, “West! Which way is West?!” That’s got to be the way back to the dock. The floating compass seems like a toy and only spins and bounces around with the ocean swells. You’re lost, alone, and have no idea what you are going to do. You start to feel faint. Cold. Dizzy. You sit down, but then everything goes black.

Voices and bright, blurry lights wake you. Someone is asking if you can get up. It is your husband! He’s got a bandage around his head, but you can only see the terror in his eyes. Slowly, you stand. It’s night and a Coast Guard boat is tied to yours. Within minutes, you’re on the way to a hospital.

In the sterile stillness of the examining room, you mutter, “We both could have died.” The terror that filled your husband’s eyes has been replaced with a blank, distant gaze. “Yes,” he admits, and then thinks to himself, “And, what if I had?”

After returning home, and pondering the seriousness of the recent event, your husband realizes that his death, whether at sea or on dry land, could leave you adrift – not knowing which way to turn or what to do. It’s then that he initiates a very important conversation.“This isn’t just about boating,” he says. “You really don’t know enough about our finances. If I died, how would you manage our investments, insurance policies or IRA accounts? You’ve never even met with our financial adviser!” “That’s true,” you reply. You admit to him that you never really cared to learn about the finances because he always handled everything. “I guess, then, there are TWO things that need to be done immediately,” you declare with new-found determination. “First, we need to make an appointment to meet with our financial adviser – together.” Your husband nods his head in agreement and adds, “From now on, you and I are going to be co-captains of our financial boat. We’re in this together, and it shouldn’t have taken a bump on the head for me to realize it! So, what’s the second thing that needs to be done?” he asks. “Well, tomorrow morning I’m signing up for boating lessons!” you say through a grin.


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