Tax time is over, you’ve (hopefully) filed on time, and are either dreaming of ways to spend your refund, or licking your wounds because you owe the IRS…and finding a way to pay for it. For many of us, the maze of additions and subtractions is confusing and it feels like a crap shoot every year. You hold your breath, give up your mountains of paper to your CPA, and hope for the best. By the time it’s all over, a third of the next year has already passed, and you still don’t know what to do to control it.
What if there was a way to control it? What if you could not only predict, but manage, the outcome? Your CPA might offer a couple of easy suggestions like, “just withhold more next year”, or “contribute to an IRA”. Those ideas might mitigate the pain, but they’re not a proactive plan. Your CPA may know your tax situation, but can’t begin to plan for the loss of a loved one or the transfer of wealth. Your investment guy doesn’t discuss with you how to take distributions in retirement to minimize taxes and stretch your savings. The clergy member who visits your aging parent can’t properly advise the best way to protect their assets and plan for their elder care.
A comprehensive financial planner covers these areas and more. Because we look at the total picture, we can give you the most informed advice on an array of inter-related subjects. We help you plan for those inevitable curve balls, rather than just react to them. We help you move past the emotion, the fear, maybe even the embarrassment that you’ve been “winging it” for so long. We help you get to the point where you can throw yourself into whatever it is that consumes you, knowing that there is a safety net and informed decisions have been made.
So, you finally realize it’s time to get help. But then comes the biggest hurdle of all:
“I don’t have time right now, maybe when we’re not so busy running crazy with all the kids’ activities.”
“As soon as I retire, I’ll have time to really pay attention to this.”
“Taking care of Mom is already a full-time job; I’ll worry about it when the time comes.”
“I’m too busy actually running my business; maybe when things slow down a little.”
“As soon as I finish my taxes.”
Ouch. Did that last one hit a little too close to home? Despite valid and compelling reasons, each of these statements is just procrastination—”I’ll do it later”. We’re all guilty of it to some degree. We justify it and go on about our busy lives until we’re forced to react to whatever curve ball life throws at us. Decisions are often made in haste, with incomplete information, or too late in the game to take advantage of opportunities. It’s simple: if you don’t make a choice (i.e., “take action”), you’ve actually made a choice—to do nothing. Not exactly a plan.
So, what’s your “when”? When a parent passes, your retirement savings run out, your investments have been stagnant for the last 10 years, you realize you don’t have enough to send the kids to college, or you want to retire but have no succession plan in place for your business? “When” can be today…now. You just have to be the one to set it in motion. Change your “when” to a reality. The cost of inaction could be greater than you realize.
If you’re not looking out for your best interests, who is?