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Goals & Planning

January 06, 2021

“A good plan violently executed today is far better than a perfect plan next week” Gen George Patton.

So, this is the topic everyone likes to talk about and nobody wants to do.  This is the part where the client asks, “why is he asking so many questions”.  “I don’t want to tell him how much money I make, then he will expect me to invest more”.  “I don’t want to tell him how much money I spend, he will tell me to spend less.”

Honestly, I don’t care how much money you have, after being in this business for 17 years, I have seen numbers with more than one comma.  I don’t want to invest all your money, if I did you would be calling me every week to get distributions, and I am an advisor not a bank teller.  I don’t really care about where you spend your money.  I will say that I would like to help you spend your money consistent with your values and enjoyment.  That means we have to talk about the dreaded B word. That’s right, budget!

Why we need Budgets and Not Budget Nazi’s

“NO SOUP FOR YOU!” The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld.

This part of a client meeting always reminds me of Seinfeld.  As we are going through the budget, I feel like the client is waiting for me to yell “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”.  We need your budget, not because we need to play big brother, but because I have to work backwards to do your planning.  Planning steps are simple.

  • We look at how much you spend each month.
  • We look at how much Social Security, Pension, or other income you receive each month.
  • We calculate how much needs to come from your investments to top that off.
  • We calculate how sustainable that is assuming your retirement lasts well into your 90s. We try to show you how to be 90% certain that the outcome will sustain your income well into your 90s. 

Why 90% certain, it is simple.  In engineering we had a saying.  All planes eventually wind up on the ground, they either land or crash.  At 90% we are trying to limit the probability of crashing your retirement. Depending on your spending, savings, other factors, you might be at 95 or 99% .  That is great!  Certainly the higher the probability of success

We may have a discussion about spending, but we are all adults.  I can show you how it will work if your spending is a bit high, and I can show you how it will work if your spending is a little more realistic.  If you want to take the chance that there is a 30% probability your retirement plane will crash, all I can do is warn you of the danger.  I can’t “make” you do anything, that would be disrespectful. But I will be honest, there is always room to spend less on things you don’t like, and even some you do. 

My wife loves Coffee.  Not long after we were newly married, I took a look at the credit card statement.  I noticed a pattern.  Multiple Starbuck’s purchases a day.  I could see what time she was arriving at the office, what time she was returning from lunch, and when the contentious meeting with her boss ended, all by the purchases.  It was costing a lot.  But I will be honest, in any other way, by lovely wife is not high maintenance.  How am I going to tell her, to quit her one vice?  I didn’t.  I did the math and bought her an espresso machine.  It wasn’t super high end, but it did the trick.  It cut her coffee purchases in half and paid for itself inside of 3 months.  So I invite you to be clever and see how you can get the same enjoyment by spending less money.  If you take this challenge you will be less focused on denying yourself things, and more focused on spending less to get the same level of enjoyment for your hard earned funds.

So what I am trying to do here is turn the typical industry perception on its head.  You see the prevailing thought is that the advisor is the Captain of the financial voyage.  We are not, you are!  We are the Navigator. We help you manage the charts, avoid the rocks, and keep you from running aground on the shallows.  We attempt to deliver you to the destination, regardless if the water is like glass, or stormy.  In order to do that we need a tool to put you on course.

If what you have heard sounds appealing, I invite you to start planning now.  Use the link below and start developing your own strategy for retirement, paying off debt, budgeting, etc.  Once you have those key pieces in place we can start to determine what success looks like and chart a course towards achieving it.

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