Is Holistic Planning Fun?
The title of this post is a possibility, that holistic financial planning can be fun! But in my experience that is almost, without exception, a myth. Because holistic planning involves frank discussions of the following not-so-fun topics:
- Death- I ask my clients to complete a Life Expectancy calculator. Approximate longevity is essential for Social Security timing as well as for accumulation spend-down of retirement funds. Plus, using the calculator saves them the embarrassing questions about their health, habits and genes.
- Disability- Unless you luck out and leave this world in a sudden manner, old age & sickness are pretty well guaranteed. Long term care risk is high, as are the costs. Losing one's job or occupation due to disability is a risk. And the underwriting gaunlet and high premiums reflect the degree of risk.
- Divorce- titleing of property, income disparity and beneficiary designations need to be structured so as not to be devastating to the lower earning spouse in case divorce occurs.
- Politics- Usually considered off-limits, if something political is going on that may affect a client's plans, I bring it back on the table. A great example is our current mentally and morally unfit President. What will happen if he succeeds in repealing the Affordable Care Act, in the absence of a viable alternative solution (as opposed to alternative facts)? What if he meddles in Social Security, as he most likely will? What if his retaliations against our trade partners is reciprocated and you lose your job? We need to anticipate and minimize the risk of these near certainties.
- Religious Beliefs- Also a forbidden topic between most professionals and their clients, religious beliefs may have to be considered. Some folks believe they don't need to plan, or change their plans, because God wouldn't think of allowing them to go broke. Ahem. Just look at all the bad things that are allowed to happen to good people. Why would you be immune? I tell of the early Christian Coastal Native Americans saying, "Trust in God but row away from the rocks."
- Rotten Children- A plan I have never, ever, in 36 years seen succeed is attempting to buy the love of your rotten children. Forget about how they got that way and whose fault it is. You owe it to each other to dig in your heels and protect your retirement assets. Model for them good self care. Their unemployability, bad marriages, serial relationships, illegitimate children, drug addictions, perpetual student-hood and disrespect for you and your future are not your problems. You gave them life and a head start. Your job is done.
This may be one of the harshest posts in a long time. But I deal in reality. Because I want the best possible outcomes for my clients. Nothing is off the table.