Over the course of my career, I’ve had the privilege of helping many people connect the financial dots of their retirement. Pensions, 401Ks, Social Security, Medicare…the pieces can seem endless and overwhelming until we tie them together into a cohesive plan. Many now retirees have shared that this plan followed by ongoing planning has turned their angst into confidence surrounding their financial future. Regrettably though, I italicize and bold financial because this is the only aspect of the future we have prioritized. As more and more of my clients transition throughout retirement, I’m reminded that their finances, while a very critical part of their future, are still only a part of it. Purpose, meaning, friends, family… may all sound cliché but are continuing to prove to be the other lynchpins of a complete, fulfilling retirement. Therefore, my intention with this bimonthly newsletter is twofold: to provide a financial tidbit that can help create or maintain financial confidence surrounding retirement and to also share ideas that touch on these other themes that make up a wholesome retirement. I’m hopeful that as these tidbits and ideas compound over time, our financial confidence can expand into a sureness that our best years still await us in retirement.
Let’s start compounding!
As a byproduct of engaging with my team in a comprehensive financial planning relationship, many clients will be encouraged to create and/or update their estate plan. The most basic estate plan will include a Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Financial Durable Power of Attorney. For many families, these core documents along with guardianship provisions for a young family can help streamline the settlement of our affairs during incapacitation and upon death. While these documents effectively communicate our intentions for who we want making healthcare and financial decisions on our behalf and how we would like our assets distributed, these basic documents fall short of expressing our values, experiences, and other important life lessons we want to pass down.
Listening to The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch on Audible (a book I would highly recommend), I was struck by the fact that my wife and I have focused almost entirely on ensuring our daughter’s financial wellbeing and neglected the life lessons we would like to share with her if we are not given the chance. Why do we value education? How do we nourish our mind, body, and spirit? How do we cope with life when it knocks us down? These are all lessons I aspire to share with my daughter but what happens if I’m dealt the same hand as the author of The Last Lecture? Fortunately, we can add an ethical will to our estate plan. As defined by trustandwill.com, “an Ethical Will is a gift you leave your loved ones. It’s a way you can express your experiences, values, and other important themes and life lessons you want to pass down. Unlike traditional Wills, there’s no money or property passed on through Ethical Wills. Instead, what you’re sharing is your wisdom and advice with loved ones.” As we share time with many of our loved ones this holiday season, I encourage us all to think about what advice and wisdom we may want to leave behind to those people in our family who Santa will be coming to visit. Once you’ve thought about it, let’s make it a New Year resolution to document it and include it with our other estate planning documents.
Speaking of New Year resolutions, Forbes Health conducted their 2024 survey on the top New Year resolutions and found that the most popular one is improved fitness (shocker!). If you are one of the many that falls into this camp, it could prove beneficial to apply the SMART filter to your goal to increase its likelihood of achievement. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. According to this productivity blog, the SMART approach “eliminates generalities and guesswork, sets a clear timeline, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones.” An example of a SMART fitness goal would be to complete a 5K race in less than 30 minutes by August 2024. If, after pondering this approach, you struggle to make your ‘improved fitness’ goal more specific, consider using the Centenarian Decathlon framework offered up by Dr. Peter Attia. The idea of this framework is to choose 10 physical tasks you want to be able to do at age 100 and then reverse engineer the necessary actions in the present to achieve that future. For example, lets say your goal is to be able to physically lift up your grandchild and/or great grandchild off of the ground when you are in your 70s or 80s. To reverse engineer this goal, you could consider incorporating goblet squats into your fitness routine today. For a much deeper dive into this idea of preparing for a Centenarian Decathlon, I encourage you to check the link below to Dr. Attia’s blog which includes a Youtube video on the topic:
Happy exercising in the New Year!