By Cass Grange, Senior Advisor Associate
Nervous about the election? You aren’t the only one. We all are. What can we do about it? Well, we can vote. Then we can get on with our lives. If it feels to you like it does to me that the four year election cycle comes around way too quickly, it could be a reminder to all of us that time is passing quickly. The world and the headlines are full of uncertainty, but here are a few things to think about.
Time is going to pass no matter who wins this election. Elect to take control over what you can control.
If you know your kids are going to be going to college in the next four years, elect to familiarize yourself with the real costs. Come up with a plan, and share it with your children. Hoping your kid will get a full soccer scholarship (for the vast majority of us), is wishful thinking. We can help you with the projections and strategies for saving for college.
If you know that your parents will be four years older in 2020, elect to start talking to them now about their plans. Trust me, if your Dad is 83, the conversation won’t be easier when he is 87. Take time over the holidays to ask some thoughtful questions. (Click here to read our article on Aging Parents). You can use us as the excuse for the conversation! “My financial advisor asked me if you had your health care directives and powers of attorney signed. She thinks that we all need to have those documents in place.”
Don’t assume that your parents have their estate plans up to date, or even finished. I just heard about a law professor who died at 70 without a will, or any documents, or even leaving any instructions about any of his investments or providing any passwords for his accounts. The family had to hire a forensic accountant to figure out what he held and where it was located. This was a man who devoted his life to the study of estate planning. I guess he thought he would have more time to work on his own plans.
“I always thought I’d have more time,” is a comment that hospice workers hear over and over again from people right before they die. (Read an article written by a palliative caregiver called “Regrets of the Dying” here) None of us is going to get out of this world alive. So make a bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish or see or experience. What are your deepest wishes? Some books to consider on this are 1000 Places to See Before You Die, and Without Regrets: A Nurse’s Advice about Aging and Dying. Elect to take charge of the time you do have.
If you think you may retire before the next presidential election in 2020, let’s meet and talk about it. Not only do we need to update your financial picture, we need to discuss your lifestyle, your income and your plans. The best retirements I have witnessed have been those that were thoughtfully planned and prepared for – But not only on the financial side. People who think deeply about what they’d like to do, and how they’d like to continue to contribute to their families and their communities are the most successful in retirement. It is a big transition, and many look forward to it eagerly. But, they often underestimate the role of work, structure and purpose in their lives and how much it plays into our sense of well being. Elect to engage in this discussion as soon as possible.
This election is stressful. Change is hard. Elect to take control of what you can. Four years is going to pass before we know it and we will have more presidential debates to watch. Meanwhile, take the longer view so when an interviewer asks you, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” You can say, “Yes, I am wealthy in many different ways, and it had nothing to do with who is in the White House.”