by Joseph R Weiland, CFP®, Managing Partner

One of the biggest gifts that a person can receive from a financial planner is perspective on what actions a person can make now to have the biggest impact on their future financial lives.  At different phases of our lives the importance of different actions changes dramatically.

What kind of actions am I referring to? Saving money is obvious but there are more options like paying down debt, delaying retirement, reinvesting in your business, getting career training or education, putting life or disability insurance in place, and renting a home vs. owning a home. The list continues: diversifying your investments, setting up a pension plan, going on a budget, buying rental property, buying property for your business, liquidating property. The list is endless. Perspective allows us to address the right issue at the right time which is invaluable to obtaining the best financial results.

Lately I have had the opportunity to meet with several children of my clients shortly after they have graduated from college and are just starting their working years.  At this point in a career, the most impactful action they can take is to start an investment routine. 401ks or IRAs are perfect for this.  The investments that they make in the first seven years of their careers will be the most valuable savings that they ever make. We have all seen the charts. They are true!

If these young people have taken this advice, at the far end of their careers savings is no longer important. What is important is the number of years that they are going to continue to work. It is incredibly difficult to retire in your early 50s, at age 65 it is a completely different story. Each year of continued work at this point has three benefits. You can save for one more year, your assets work for one more year, and you need to provide for one less year in retirement.

Perspective is most important when it is time to walk away from working and enjoy the fruits of the planning and investing. When your finances are set, your health is good, and you have things other than work that you want to do, it is time to move on to the next phase of your life. The big question here is what kind of lifestyle you are looking for in retirement. Are you going to be a gardener or a world traveler? Will you travel five-star style or with a backpack, credit card and passport? Take a hard look at your retirement budget. With perspective, you will know if the expenses are more than matched by the resources and the time may be now to retire and enjoy your life.

These are very simple examples of decisions that are timely and important in our lives. We only have one chance to get it right. Bringing our experience and perspective to our clients to make sure that they do not miss the opportunity to impact their lives for the better is the true gift of a financial planner’s perspective.