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The CEO Forum – July 2019

By Trilogy Financial
July 1, 2019
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By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
November 26, 2018

Money is a commonly held taboo topic, like politics and religion. We just don’t feel comfortable talking about them – especially to people we care about. That’s because these topics are tied closely to how we view ourselves. These topics also garner a lot of judgment, and the last thing we want is to be judged on something that we feel is intrinsically linked to our intelligence or sense of maturity. Yet, by practicing a few simple tips, we can start tackling the taboo topic of family finances and get on that path to financial independence.

Be Honest

It is human nature to want to hide things we may not be proud of or want to avoid. Perhaps you charged a bit too much to your credit cards or haven’t saved as much as you planned for all of your family’s goals. You may want to avoid addressing such issues, but those who are part of your financial household need to know the honest, unvarnished state of your finances. Trying to hide the facts will just compound your issues when they come to light – and they will.

Be Frequent

Don’t just talk about money when money is a problem. That’s when stress levels are high and emotions are frayed. What needs to be a level-headed discussion can quickly escalate into an emotional shouting match. Instead, conversations about finances should become routine. If you schedule a monthly financial date night with your spouse, the frequent exposure will minimize the surprise and anxiety from these talks. Ultimately, there will be fewer surprises and more planning to help when unexpected or hard decisions need to be made.

Be Open to Feedback

You and your spouse are a team. Teams succeed by working together towards the same goals. Teammates, though, don’t always see things the same way and may have different approaches to the same objective. That’s why it’s important to get your spouse’s input on how your finances are being managed. Not only does your spouse’s input ensure you’re working towards the same goals, but different perspectives can also provide multiple solutions to financial issues. Most importantly, your spouse feels heard and validated, which is a precious thing to give to the one you love.

Be Non-Judgmental

What causes many to shy away from discussing finances is the idea that they will be judged for things they did or did not do with their money. Did you mismanage your funds and refrain from saving sufficiently? Were you too risky with your investments or not risky enough to provide for the household? To avoid the judgment, most will just avoid talking about their finances all together, which doesn’t often have good outcomes. Avoidance doesn’t help financial situations – it often just prolongs the mess. To help your spouse open up, it is beneficial to allow them to speak openly and freely and to listen without judgment.

I do believe that it is imperative to take the taboo out of talking about money with your spouse. Both of you should foster frequent and honest financial discussions, free of strife and judgment. Doing these things will allow you to solidify yourselves as a strong financial team and set you on your path for collective financial independence.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
October 15, 2018

Often, my clients ask me, “How will I know if I’m ready to retire?” It sounds like a simple question, but the answer is anything but. There are so many factors to consider, questions to answer, scenarios to prepare for, that it can all seem very overwhelming. To make things manageable, though, let’s start off with a dream.

We know that retirement can be expensive. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, participants would need 130% of their salary in retirement to live their ideal retirement life.1 You see, most of us spend money during our free time, and as one of my advisors says, retirement is basically six Saturday’s and a Sunday. If your retirement is filled with lazy days reading in your backyard, your expenses will probably be limited. However, if you plan on traveling, tackling home improvement projects or long-ignored hobbies, all of these come with additional expenses. Additionally, things you may have been able to earn in relation to your job, such as airfare and hotel points for frequent travelers, are no longer as easily accessible once you turn off your wage-earner card.

Therefore, the first step on your checklist is to visualize your retirement. If you’re not sure where to start, simply look at what you do in your current free time and determine if that’s something you would like to do more of when you retire. Not only does this help in your financial planning, but it helps you determine what you want the next chapter of your life to be. It is unfortunately common for retirees to experience depression related to a lack of purpose or identity when they enter retirement with an undeveloped vision of their next chapter. Therefore, the more details you can determine, the better the planning process will go.

For people who are married, things become a bit more multi-faceted to plan. You’re not only figuring out how to occupy your free time, but your spouse is also doing the same, and the two of you need to figure out how you plan to spend your shared time together. Without this planned out, you end up with a lot of togetherness, which can be quite an adjustment to most couples. Not only can differences in your retirement vision impact your relationship, but it can also impact your finances. Take advantage of monthly financial date nights well before retirement begins and solidify your retirement vision.

Perhaps you’ve finalized that retirement vision and discovered you won’t have a lot of expenses. You will most likely have those expenses for a long time though. People live much longer now, on average into their mid-eighties.2 It would be great to assume that those years will be spent in good health, but the likelihood is that your medical expenses will go up. According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, the average couple will need about $280,000 for medical expenses in retirement.3 Even if you stay away from long-term care needs or expensive treatments, annual premiums and out of pocket costs like doctor visits and medications typically cost about $5,000 annually.4 There may be certain elements you may not be able to foresee, but you should still try to plan for as much as possible.

Once you’ve determined what your vision for retirement is, you need to determine how much you’ll need to live that lifestyle. You need to be sure that the income you’ll be receiving will fund that vision. Just to be sure, once that number is determined, try living on that budget for about six months. If you find out that you’re struggling, some adjustments will need to be made, whether that’s working longer or altering the retirement vision. Practicing your retirement lifestyle isn’t merely relegated to your budget. If you typically work 50 to 60 hours a week, start cutting back. Maybe take on fewer projects. Prepare as much as you can for this life adjustment. You’ve worked really hard to get to retirement. Be sure to put in the extra work to make it the retirement of your dreams. Retirement is a massive decision. I urge you not to take it lightly. There is a reason that the five years before and after retirement are considered dangerous. Certain things like pensions, pay-outs and in some cases, social security can’t be undone. The best way to make an informed decision on what’s best for you is to meet with an Advisor who can run the scenarios for you. If you choose to push retirement off, your investments can continue to grow. In the end, you will be putting the proper steps in place to make your retirement dream a reality.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-much-money-will-you-really-spend-in-retirement-probably-a-lot-more-than-you-think-1536026820
  2. https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/plan-for-rising-health-care-costs

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