|Taking Into Account How You Want
to Live – Now and Later
by Bruce Helmer, Co-founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, Financial Advisor and host of the “Your Money” radio program
Financial planning is not a drab endeavor that requires you to live a Spartan lifestyle for the next 30 years so that you won’t end up at age 70 living on the streets, with all your possessions in a shopping bag. There is more to life than waiting for a disaster—or retirement.
Quality-of-life issues also require planning. Expand your horizons, have fun, acquire new skills. You have a lot of life to be lived between now and when you walk away from your job for the last time. People forget to plan for their lives in the short term. Maybe you want to see Paris before you need a walker. Maybe you want to cliff-dive in Acapulco, which might not be a good idea if you’ve already reached retirement age. Or maybe you want to take a cooking class now with Chef Luigi that will give you hours of pleasure for the rest of your life, instead of later when you might be on a restricted diet. Your goals for saving and investing don’t have to be limited to three or four decades down the road.
A good plan takes into account how you want to live now, as well as later in life, balancing between now and then. Are you living a humdrum life now so that you won’t have to when you’re older? That depends on your goals. Maybe sacrificing now, living a no-frills lifestyle, will enable you to have the money to do things you want to do when you retire. However, it is important to realize that you might be less healthy then.
Often the best investments we can make are in ourselves. We can improve our quality of life by pursuing a passion or hobby. We can improve our earning potential by investing in education or professional credentials. We can sometimes do both by investing in our own business.
How can you plan to enjoy life more? Your enjoyment and mine or another guy’s are likely to be so vastly different. Dream a little and balance the future with the present. I’ve always liked this thought from a preschool teacher I know. Every morning she had her students say when they arrived in class: “This is the day we have. We can use this day or throw it away, but this is the day we have.” What a wonderful way to ingrain in children the notion that they can make of each day what they want. They are each responsible for how their day turns out. We adults are, too.
Remember John Lennon’s famous line: “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Don’t let that happen to you while you’re making your financial plan. Include the present in your plan so that life doesn’t pass you by.