We live in a society focused on planning—and I work in an industry with “planning” in my job title. But how do we draw the line between planning for the future and living for the present?
It’s a very fine line, but here are my thoughts on the subject.
Rainy days are never guaranteed.
You hear it all the time. “I’m saving for a rainy day.”
Saving money for the future is great. In fact, if I didn’t believe in or recommend saving for the future, I probably wouldn’t have a career. Being able to save enough money to retire comfortably and live off your assets is a goal that everyone should have.
But it shouldn’t be your only goal. Balancing your future with your present is vital for a happy life, and the scale shouldn’t tip too far in either direction.
What happens when that rainy day never comes? What happens when you or your spouse fall ill and that dream trip you’ve always put off is suddenly impossible?
Don’t put off today in favor of tomorrow. And don’t forgo saving for tomorrow to do all of the things today.
Think about the children.
A huge hurdle that a lot of people face when planning for their financial futures is children. We all want to leave something for our kids so they can live happily and comfortably but letting that get in the way of our own financial planning can be disastrous.
Have you ever flown on an airplane? They’ll always tell you that in the event of loss of cabin pressure, fasten your own oxygen mask before helping your child with his or her own. While our first instinct is always to put our children first, they tell us this for a reason.
If you want to save for your child’s college or help support them while they get their footing, that’s fine. But don’t prioritize those priorities over your own retirement planning. Make sure you’re breathing freely before fitting them with their oxygen mask. It isn’t being selfish. It’s protecting you from one day being a financial burden on them.
Take my word for it – your kids will be very grateful that they aren’t supporting you in the future, even if it means student loans now.
Live the dream while you can.
People are living longer and longer, but they’re not necessarily living better. We need to take advantage of the time that we have and maximize the years during which we are healthy and able to do the things that make us happy.
If you have your health and the money now, take that trip. Maybe even bring your kids with you so they’re left with memories and experiences they can treasure after you’re gone, even if it means their inheritance is a bit smaller.
Find the thing that makes you happy. Volunteer. Play a sport. Eat at the overpriced restaurant.
When you’re making your financial plan, be sure that not all your money is set away for retirement. Have an account dedicated to now. It’s better to live a life that you love while you’re relatively young and healthy than to spend your life waiting for someday.
And while we want to leave our children with something, remember that it doesn’t have to be money. Leaving memories and ideologies and lessons are just as important. They’ll make their own money, but they won’t have another chance to enjoy your company once you’re gone.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regards to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results.
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Brotman Financial Group, Inc. and BFG Financial Advisors are not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS.
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