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Planning for Contentment

Planning for Contentment

| May 03, 2021

Will we have enough? It is by far the most common question clients ask. And, maybe not surprisingly, it’s one of the most complex to answer in a way that brings lasting peace of mind. 

For example, one retired couple makes $60,000 per year and wants help planning what to do with their leftover savings, while another couple makes 4x that amount and struggles to make ends meet. 

Occasionally I talk to people who ponder moving to Mexico or similar destinations to spend their retirement in a location with a much lower cost of living. While this is definitely not for everyone, it is through these discussions I am able to understand something very important. 

We all have a deeply embedded sense of what is financially normal for us. I have heard it said that “behavior is what we do; culture is how we do it.” Each of us has developed a financial culture that we are not fully aware of. How you shop, where and what you eat, what you drive, where you live – all these things have been developed slowly over time. Some of your culture is based on how you were raised and some of it has been formed by the resources available and choices made in early adulthood. As we near or enter retirement, we become aware that our “normal” might be at risk.

The first significant challenge in answering the “do we have enough” question is found in having a full understanding what “enough” means for you. Very few families have a clear understanding of what their financial normal is – and how much it costs. I believe this is one of the most important and, quite frankly, under-explored areas in my industry today. Knowing what you do (financial behavior) and how you do it (financial culture) is the first and most powerful step you can take in achieving financial contentment. 

After recognizing that you have developed your financial normal over many years and by making lots of little decisions that you have long since forgotten, you are now able to take the next meaningful step. You must answer one of the most profound and impactful questions we ask. Is the way we currently spend our money in alignment with the things that are most important to us as a couple and as a family?

The journey of exploring where you are and what you value is important at any age. It provides the clarity to pivot from doing what comes naturally to choosing what you want most. It helps you waste less and be more joyful about how you use the resources you have. Finally, if done right, it can provide purpose and meaning to the years in retirement that unfortunately for some are less than rewarding. 

Good planning must be customized to an individual’s or family’s values, goals and resources. While being able to pay the bills is important, living a meaningful and purposeful life while paying the bills wins every time. If you would like to explore what this process might mean for you, let us help.