Spend Less, Save More, and Don’t Do Anything Stupid
No matter what generation you are a member of – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennial, or Gen Z – I have some free, basic financial advice that will serve you well.
“Spend less, save more, and don’t do anything stupid.” The late Dick Wagner coined that phrase, and I use it regularly as my “free advice” when people ask me about where to invest, “what’s hot now,” etc. Implementing that advice is much more difficult. Here are a few ideas on how to build wealth or use your money to get ROL, Return on Life, your life, rather than the often talked about ROI, or return on investment.
No one saves and invests solely to watch their money grow. There is always a “why” behind the effort. The question I like to ask clients and prospective clients is “are you using your money in a way that is improving your life?” A simple question, with a much deeper meaning.
As an example, is your home a place of comfort and security, or are the payments, maintenance, etc. an emotional and physical drain? (Return on Residence)
Do you love the work you do that pays for your lifestyle or is your job causing you stress and time away from your family that makes you feel resentful? (Return on Work)
Are you able to maintain your health and take time for the activities that you love? How can you use your money to improve the health aspects of your life? Let’s face it, having large sums of money invested at the expense of your health is not a trade off most people consciously choose. (Return on Heath)
These are just 3 of the 10 facets we look at as part of our “Return on Life” assessment.
So let’s shift the conversation from ROI to concentrating on how you can achieve the best life possible for YOU, with the resources you have. If you need a partner to help sort through this, contact Fish and Associates for a consultation.
By Jennifer Cissell, Client Services Associate at Fish and Associates It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the unexpected phone call telling you that your child has been in a serious accident and is in the hospital. Frantic, you prepare to leave to be with your child as you call the hospital to find out what’s going on.
And the nurse at the hospital says she cannot give you any information due to HIPPA regulations.
In the eyes of the law, your college student – the one who texted last week asking if you could schedule their dentist appointment when they come home – is an adult and legally, you cannot get any medical information about your child or make any medical decisions for your child without his or her consent.
That’s why, as you and your student are happily shopping for comforters and shower caddies, you also need to take time out to fill out a HIPAA Privacy Authorization Form, also known as a HIPAA Release form. This form acts like a permission slip. It authorizes you to receive information about your child’s health. It does not need to be notarized or witnessed.
Young adults who want parents to be involved in a medical emergency, but fear disclosure of sensitive information, need not worry; HIPAA authorization does not have to be all-encompassing. The young adults can stipulate not to disclose information about sex, drugs, mental health, or other details they might want to keep private.
It’s good to have two copies of the release: one that you send off to college with your student to provide to the school’s clinic or a local doctor and one that you keep on hand at home just in case the original document can’t be found when needed.
You may want to also go ahead and fill out two additional forms.
Medical power of attorney: In signing a medical POA, you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. Each state has different laws governing medical POA and, therefore, different legal forms. In many states, the HIPAA authorization is rolled into the standard medical POA form. Whether the medical POA requires the signature of a witness or notary varies state by state.
Durable power of attorney: As an additional step, young-adult children might consider appointing a durable power of attorney, enabling a parent or other designated agent to take care of business on the student’s behalf. If the student were to become incapacitated or if the student were studying abroad, the durable power of attorney would be able to, for example, sign tax returns, access bank accounts, and pay bills. Durable POA forms vary by state. In some states the medical POA can be included in the durable POA form.
Hopefully, you and your child will never need to use these documents. But if a worst-case scenario does come to pass, having these documents on hand will help make a frightening situation a little less stressful.
Yes, You Might Actually Enjoy a “Working” Retirement
An important part of your retirement plan is a discussion of the benefits of working, regardless of age. Retirement is no longer an event––it is a segue into an altered definition of life as you know it.
One definition of “work” is that it consists of actions that bring value to others and meaning to you. While you may feel that you’ve had enough work, it’s probably the underlying issues (i.e., meetings, corporate politics, commuting) that have left you drained and exhausted.
Think about this: many people who go back to work after retirement are motivated by more than money––they are also motivated by the psychological and existential payoffs.
You need to consider work and retirement in more holistic terms. What exactly do you want to retire from? Keep in mind that the word “retire” means to withdraw, and while it may be tempting, you need to consider the pros and cons of not working at all.
You may want to withdraw from your environment, but do you want to withdraw from the challenge of solving problems? You may want to withdraw from an egotistical boss, but do you want to withdraw from colleagues you’ve developed relationships with over many years?
Alzheimer’s and dementia research is underscoring the power of leading an intellectually challenging life, especially as we age. The brain is a highly-sophisticated muscle that needs to be used, lest it atrophy just like any other unused muscle. Any engagement that we find intellectually stimulating helps expand the computing capacity of our brains. If we treat life as a learning experience and are intentional about continued learning, we are constantly building and expanding our brain circuitry.
The discussion surrounding “who we are” has received short shrift in the retirement conversation. Most of us are unprepared for the realities that come crashing down around us once we retire: playing golf every day quickly loses its appeal; the family doesn’t want us visiting that much; spouses need space; and we don ’t know where to ply a lifetime of know-how and know-who any longer.
The old retirement question was, “How will you invest your money so you can retire comfortably?” The new retirement question is, “How will you invest yourself and your time, as well as your money?” In order to answer the new retirement question, you need to talk about the pros of working and how they apply to you:
Sense of relevance
Engagement/doing what you love)
Opportunity for growth
If you can avoid jumping off the work cliff, and instead begin negotiating the type of balance and application that best suits your life, you will no doubt enjoy a much more rewarding and fulfilling retirement.
If you are looking toward to retiring, think about how work will be integrated into your life going forward. Many people don’t do this assessment before retiring––only to end up going back to work in some capacity because they realized they were missing out on the pros listed above.
When you can’t believe someone is paying you to do what you’re doing, you’re collecting a “play-check.” If you’re currently collecting a “play-check”, you should give serious consideration as to whether or not you want to retire. Whether you are retired or not, collecting a “play-check” should be your goal.
Here are some benchmarks to consider (the more of these you feel strongly about, the closer you are to collecting a “playcheck”):
My natural talents and abilities are expressed through my work.
I have a continuing enthusiasm about the work I do.
I feel energized by the work I do.
I enjoy the people I work with.
My work helps me to grow intellectually and personally.
I bring benefit to others through my work.
I have a sense of serenity regarding my work.
Think about what you like best, and least, about working and use those responses, along with your choices above, to help you integrate a work plan into your retirement plan.
Are you enjoying benefits but want to slow down? In that case, working some balance into your schedule will sustain your enjoyment of the work you do. Do you love what you do? If so, full retirement probably is not a good choice for you.
It is important to determine how work benefits you. Money is certainly one, and having more of it doesn’t hurt. But, as the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness. The psychological, social, and intellectual benefits that the right work can deliver into your life is much more difficult to tally in terms of the value it delivers to you and to those you work for or with––but it is just as important.
Note: Due to industry regulations on communication, we are unable to allow for public comments on this blog. Please feel free to email me your questions and/or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. NFP Securities, Inc. is not affiliated with Fish & Associates.