If you don’t know the answer to this question, please know that you are not alone in your uncertainty. We meet so many people who are clearly not comfortable thinking about their future, much less planning for it.
On the flip side, some never stop worrying about what will happen when they get older—scrimping and saving in the hope that they will have enough. Many are too mortified to tell us about their lack of progress—but we are not here to judge or embarrass you. We are here to help you feel confident about your future.
When asked a different question, “When do you want to retire?” most people immediately respond with a smile and a question of their own. “Well, I’m really not sure, so how about yesterday, now, or tomorrow?” I always love this response! While they are obviously joking around, it may be the first time they realize that they can, and should, be in charge of when they retire—and how they live when they do. So many believe that they don’t have a say in the matter – but from our perspective, that is simply not true!
At Unified, our team seeks to answer both these questions. By first learning when you want to retire, and how retirement looks for you once there, we can set some financial goals to work towards. Our job is to identify what steps are needed to retire on your terms because you deserve to make decisions based on the future you want.
David and Kim: A plan that puts them in charge
I’d like to share with you a story about a couple named David and Kim. They are in their mid 50’s and have tried to do everything right. They watch every dollar they earn and save at a snail’s-pace in overly conservative investment strategies and low-interest rate bank accounts. They always live below their means because spending makes them nervous. They never take exotic vacations but instead clip coupons to save a few pennies on groceries and paper towels. They work hard to raise their children right, help them pay for college, and be successful. Afterward, David and Kim want to retire, perhaps sometime in their sixties or early seventies.
When David and Kim arrive for their first meeting with us, they are noticeably anxious. With a nest egg of under a million dollars, they confess they are fearful of not having enough money to retire. And, even if they could retire, they don’t expect to have much fun-money to enjoy their golden years. Yes, they have dreams and goals, but they just don’t have confidence that any of it will come true.
We encourage David and Kim to tell us about themselves. We ask them to think about what they want, not what they think they can have. We explain how our Unified True Bearing process works and that our goal is to provide them with opportunities to make their money last as long as they do, pay the least amount of tax and pursue financial growth.
Clearly, David and Kim never knew that holistic financial planning existed, much less how a firm like Unified would present an innovative way to think about their future.
The big financial picture
The majority of our clients come from a previous financial advisor, someone who is typically focused on the investments, but may lack the ability, education, skill set and training to coordinate the whole picture. Many firms simply do not allow their advisors to discuss taxes, tax planning or even look at a person’s tax return — an element that can have a major impact on long-term wealth.
The takeaway is this; some investment advisors use a cookie-cutter approach; a one size fits all strategy that does not take into account current or future tax obligations, cashflows, inheritance, health and long-term care, education, and so much more.
As we start digging through David and Kim’s records and paperwork, they are excited to know that someone knowledgeable is actually looking at their finances and their tax returns. We know from experience that having the whole picture under one roof can be a helpful way to generate additional wealth over someone’s lifetime. So, if they have a tax preparer or CPA®, we are very happy to work with them. Big picture teamwork can be a useful way to generate ideas.
By looking at them as a whole, we can also find blind spots and exposures that could potentially have negative consequences down the road. By incorporating their tax return, we can help create a plan that may help them meet that retirement goal.
The tools and strategies that open doors
When we finally have an in-depth understanding of David and Kim’s needs, wants, values – their complete financial life, we explain how we will use some specific financial tools and strategies to help generate a great plan. They are surprised because they never were offered these options before, but we suspect that these tools and strategies may not be known to many investment advisors.
Once we have David and Kim’s plan in place, they are very relieved to have some clarity about their future. They can actually retire when they want, while having confidence that their money should last as long as they do. In fact, our plan has them retiring earlier than they ever thought possible! Best of all, working in retirement is now an option, not necessarily a have-to. They can still clip coupons—but only if they enjoy doing that sort of thing.
At Unified, we strongly believe in eliminating the “musts” in your retirement.
For the first time, they can dream about travel and exploring the world, while having time and resources for charity work that satisfies their desire to give back. Treating themselves to romantic evenings in their favorite restaurants without ordering the cheapest wine on the menu is a wonderful change after all those years of tight spending. No more worrying about how high the bill will be or if they can afford to leave a nice tip if they enjoyed the service.
Our comprehensive, holistic plan for the future has released David and Kim from the fear and anxiety of “not making it,” but it’s not just about the future. Our plan will also allow them to relax and start enjoying their life now. Plus, they may pay significantly less in taxes during retirement, allowing them to spend on those things that really matter to them. Having a large, tax-free bucket of money for those unexpected life events is a nice bonus, as well!
Feel confident about your future, too.
Great results can be pursued through a holistic process like ours. We look at you as a whole and explore every aspect of your life that impacts your financial health — to help you prioritize the life you want to live!
If your financial advisor has never looked at your tax returns or you’re just curious about how our holistic approach might look for you, let’s schedule an introductory meeting. Let us help make your money last as long as you do!
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.