I know it seems like the financial industry is constantly encouraging everyone to delay gratification: Don’t take Social Security early; don’t draw from your IRAs; don’t take money from your investments; maintain an emergency fund; buy long-term care insurance . . .
In trying to help people, sometimes, financial advisers can go a little overboard. We try to protect our clients from every eventuality. Yes, there are certain things that you need to do to prepare yourself for the “bumps” along life’s journey, but I don’t need to remind my readers that “life is short.”
Not long ago, I was on a cruise with my family. I had splurged on an upgraded cabin that gave us access to a specialty restaurant on the ship. I did this because I knew the smaller restaurant would be better able to accommodate my wife, Toni’s, gluten-free dietary needs.
One evening, after the kids had run off to the ship’s “Teen Room,” Toni and I sat down at the restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine. As we were reveling in some “quiet time,” I couldn’t help but notice a woman and gentleman at a nearby table. The couple was well-dressed and probably in their seventies. They had, obviously, spent the extra money, just like we did, to have the upgraded cabin and access to the more intimate restaurant. The woman was cutting the man’s steak for him. She looked fit and alert, but her husband moved slowly and gazed quizzically at his food. He picked up a vegetable, inspected it, then put it down. He pushed the steak pieces around on his plate – but I never saw him eat. The couple wasn’t smiling, laughing or talking about what they saw at the port that day. They sat in silence . . . and . . . so did we. It was heartbreaking. I’m sure this wasn’t the cruise experience they imagined during their working years – when they were younger and planning their retirement. Knowing what they do now, I’m sure their advice would be, “Live now. Don’t wait.”
So how do we “Live now. Don’t wait?” It’s not that complicated. Build a financial plan that:
Once you have a plan in place, you’ll feel much more comfortable spending some of the money you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Take a cruise! Buy a new car! Install a pool or hot tub! Update the kitchen! And, if you don’t know how to put a plan together, consider working with an experienced, credentialed financial planner . . . if you do, you’ll PlanStronger!