When you compare who benefits from your portfolio, how does your view of investing change? Investing for your own retirement is not the same as building a surplus that will eventually go to your kids or future grandkids. With different people in mind, you and your advisor may make different decisions about risk, reward and time horizon. Let’s look at a few different perspectives of people living in the future.
We don’t have a time machine in our office, but maybe we should look into it. A portal to future decades or even the next century would help our clients define what they want their money to do and whom it will benefit.
What does future me want? The most common answer we hear is freedom. Freedom of choice, career freedom, freedom to retire at a reasonable age, freedom to travel, and freedom to maintain the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. And, most of all, freedom from worry. For most people, a few million in investment accounts should be enough to provide this freedom for future me. A steady diet of diversified investing, cost control, tax efficiency and prudent spending can put future me in great financial shape.
The most common trap is spending more than one makes on lifestyle and non-investment real estate. These expenditures create pressure on investments to produce more and more cash flow, in good markets and bad. Cash flow shortfalls often lead to fear- and greed-based portfolio tinkering that can wreak havoc on an otherwise intelligently designed portfolio.
Research shows that successful families involve both partners in the investment process. But that’s not always the case. When it comes to the family investments, one partner may drive while the other takes care of the passengers. It’s prudent to keep an eye on the road and know where you are going. Whether or not they are actively involved in making investment decisions, both partners need to know what is going on with finances and be involved in setting big picture goals for how money will be used in the future. To guide this process, consider the worst-case scenario. Would your partner be able to meet current and future financial obligations, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and care for family members?
By and large, parents want to give enough money to their kids to give them advantages, but not so much as to make them lazy. Advantages include tuition to top schools, tutors, mentors and coaches, medical care, and transportation. To achieve this consider opening 529s to fund education, and assisting with their retirement account funding goals until they can do it themselves. When investing a portfolio for the benefit of your kids (and grandkids), consider a timeline measured in decades rather than years. And think beyond the portfolio by helping kids learn the value of money at a young age. Invest in their financial literacy early and often and encourage the kids to meet the family advisor. Personally, we really enjoy meeting with the next generation.
It’s tempting to postpone and ignore future me, future partner and future kids. But if you incorporate them into your investment portfolio now you will be ready every step of the way as markets twist and turn.
Max Osbon – firstname.lastname@example.org
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