Are You Prepared for Life’s Financial Curveballs?
Investing for retirement works best when there’s both a vision and a plan. As you go through life, you’ll want to revisit both to make sure you’re still on track.
Considering 2020, and the multitude of changes caused by the Coronavirus, the need for a financial review may be obvious. But there are other life events that can impact your goals and plans that you may not have considered. The fate of your future retirement and long-run security can be put in jeopardy if you don’t course-correct your financial plan properly.
At Linscomb & Williams, we recommend clients review their plans at least once a year. This gives us a chance to update their plans with any new developments in their life. Have you welcomed a child, bought a home or received that promotion you were hoping for? Did you go through a divorce, lose a loved one or relocate?
As we welcome 2021, consider how your life has changed and how those changes may have altered your financial plan.
When Families Grow
Let’s first take a look at the life events that make your family bigger.
The financial implications of getting married cannot be understated.
As a married person, you now have to plan with your spouse in the picture. Are your feelings about money the same? How about your plans for retirement? Depending on what assets you and your spouse bring to the table, and whether you decide to combine your assets, you may both become key stakeholders of each other's retirement plans.
Additionally, a new spouse likely means adding important beneficiaries to your assets, which likely impacts important considerations like life insurance and estate planning. Talk with a pension and wealth management advisor about your taxes (e.g., Will you now file jointly?) and other financial decisions. It may not be the most exciting topic post-wedding, but it’s an important conversation to have – and the earlier, the better. It has been the observation of our experienced team at Linscomb & Williams that this is an area where new couples are inclined to procrastinate.
For help getting started, read these recent blog posts:
- Tips for Merging Finances for Blended Families
- Money and Marriage Issues: How COVID-19 has Affected Couples
Research shows that it costs more than $230,000 to raise one child, with the lion’s share of costs going to child-rearing expenses. Becoming a parent also naturally shuffles some of your financial priorities.
Instead of solely thinking about your retirement, you’ll now need to think about saving for family emergencies, family vacations, and potentially one of the biggest expenditures of your child’s life – college. Talk with your pension and wealth management advisor to make sure your financial plan meets your new family needs while still contributing to your personal needs, like retirement.
Realize also that financial goals related to your children (like education) may have distinctly different time horizons from other goals related to your retirement. Our experience in working with families over the past 50 years is that often, people fail to take these differences into account when they are establishing saving patterns and investment policies.
Here are a few blog posts that can help:
- Will Education Costs Kill Your Retirement Plans? This Financial Advisory Firm Explains
- Tips for New Parents from Houston Area Financial Advisors
- Financial Planning Tips When Caring for Special Needs Children
Don’t Forget Grandchildren
Believe it or not, grandchildren may also affect your retirement. The duties of a grandparent, while typically only a fraction of a parent’s duties, can still present unique financial variables. As a grandparent, you can become financially involved in a number of important events for your grandchild beyond emergencies, like setting up a monthly transfer into a 529 college-savings account, or helping pay for a wedding.
Depending on your family’s assets, grandchildren can mean a change to the structure of your will or a family’s trust account. Beneficiaries may need to be updated, and your estate plan may need to be reviewed to properly account for your growing, multi-generational family.
When Families Get Smaller
Your finances will also likely change if your family gets smaller. Working with a pension and wealth management advisor when this happens can be critical to ensure your financial life is taken care of as your emotional life readjusts.
Death of a Loved One
When a loved one passes away, updating your retirement and overall financial picture likely may be the last thing on your mind. To make matters worse, 60 percent of Americans lack a will or any kind of estate planning. This means that six out of 10 people are at risk of giving their assets to the government to disperse and paying unnecessary fees on their estate.
This can put a major dent in your inheritance and retirement savings. It’s critical to protect your family’s assets in advance, in order to give you and your family peace of mind before and after losing a loved one.
If you lose a family member, you may potentially inherit a number of different assets like bank and retirement accounts; lifetime income vehicles such as Social Security or pensions; and maybe a few debts. You may receive a retirement windfall that could even change your own planned retirement date and your monthly income going forward. Several years ago, we worked with a client who received an inheritance in his early 50s that was completely unanticipated. It caused him to completely revise his own thinking about retirement from planning to work to age 70 to instead retiring early – as in "Now!" The numbers worked for him and he's been enjoying his early retirement for five years as we move into 2021.
It’s important to form a plan for when your inheritances settle to make sure any outstanding debts are paid and that your retirement needs are covered going forward.
These blog posts may help:
- Financial Advisors for Surviving Spouses: How They Can Help After a Loss
- Financial Planning for Young Widows/Widows with Young Children
When a marriage ends, your financial plan may have to readjust as well. Not only will you have to make sure you’re financially stable on your own, but depending on the state and conditions of a divorce agreement, assets may need to be divided, including retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s.
With this in mind, it’s important to update and form a new financial plan with your pension and wealth management advisor. Re-evaluate your risk tolerance, growth needs, and overall portfolio, and make any necessary updates to your monthly budget and beneficiaries.
Ultimately, the key to properly managing a family shrinkage is to establish solid footing and make sure that all the moving parts form a cohesive and fresh financial plan.
Unexpected Income Changes
Like changes to your family situation, your work-life also directly affects your finances and future retirement. The Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has made the risk of job-loss very real to many families, so anticipating and understanding how unexpected job changes will affect your retirement is the first step to protect your finances.
All industries have been affected by COVID-19 in some way, but a few segments of the workforce are being ravaged by shutdowns, reducing employee hours, forcing layoffs, and generating a loss in overall income for business owners.
Fewer hours means less money in your pocket – and less money to save for retirement. If you are experiencing an unexpected change in your work hours, it’s understandable if you need to reduce your regular retirement savings. But discuss your situation with a pension and wealth management advisor first to make sure this is the right move. It may be better to focus your savings into an emergency savings account, or it may be best to continue saving for retirement if possible. You may also want to discuss pushing your retirement date back further into the future, or even, in some cases, retiring earlier than expected.
Life Events are a Financial Advisor’s Expertise
At Linscomb & Williams, we have nearly 50 years of experience helping families with their financial lives. You learn a lot from a half-century of real-world experience. Our pension and wealth management advisors have helped clients through recessions and bear markets. We’ve helped families with loss, and we’ve helped families celebrate exciting milestones. Our team is well-suited to help you financially overcome any event life has in store. In our experience, we’ve seen that when clients have the financial side of their life in order, it makes the emotional side of life much easier to handle.
Regardless of what happens in your life, the experienced and credentialed team of professionals here at Linscomb & Williams is ready to help. As we welcome in a new year, contact us and get the conversation started!