Throughout my life, my dad has talked about the importance of balancing one’s mental and physical activity, never placing too much emphasis on one or the other.
Without getting into politics or religion, I wanted to share what I think are the 10 Pillars for Life Planning.
Find something that you are connected to spiritually (church, wilderness, etc.). This can be a wonderful way to spend time with and meet other like-minded individuals. This can also be a great way to give back and to help others.
A couple of years ago, I was determined to lose weight. In fact, to adopt I needed to lose either 22 lbs. or grow 2 inches. Thankfully, I was able to change my diet and I was able to go from 238 lbs. to 186 lbs. In this pillar, I will also include my acronym “AT&T” which stands for:
- Limit Alcohol
- Avoid Tobacco
- Take care of your Teeth
I can’t tell you how many retirees I have met through the years who wish they would have taken better care of their teeth. Dental work is one of the largest out of pocket expenses many retirees face in retirement.
During my weight loss transformation, I also fell in love again with exercise. I think there is a program out there for everyone. I really enjoy lifting weights, but do not like running outside. Keep trying new things until you find the right activity for you and your body.
Spend as much time as you can with the people whom you love and those who love you.
Pursue lifelong learning. Keep challenging your brain to learn new things.
Prepare for the Worst
I learned from a great estate planner that you should always prepare for the worst. I think any good financial plan answers questions like, “what happens if I die today?” or “what happens if I am in an accident and can’t return to work?” The foundation of a plan addresses having your estate planning documents in order and the need for insurance (life, disability, and long-term care).
Plan for the Best
While it is super important to prepare for the worst, we can’t forget about planning for the best. A good plan also answers the questions “what happens if I live to be 100?” and “how much do I need to be saving every month for retirement or my children’s college education?”
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A good plan will evaluate your current employer’s benefit plans. You need to make every effort to contribute enough to your employer’s plan to get all of the matching contributions that are possible.
Tell your money where to go!
The dreaded “B” word “Budgeting.” The most important thing to remember about a budget is that you have to tell the money where to go. I recommend getting a piece of paper and writing down the things that you need to save for monthly from the categories above (Prepare for the Worst & Plan for the Best). You need to prioritize and fund those items first and live on the rest. Remember, your plan will need to be monitored over time. You might be setting aside $1,000/month for retirement now, but your situation will evolve over time and that number will need to change as well.
Diversification & Staying the Course
Diversification is simply not putting all of your eggs in one basket. You want to own different types of investments. It is important to remember that no investment strategy always outperforms. There are plenty of white papers that have been written in support of different investment strategies (index funds, active management, dividend growth stocks, etc.). I believe that you are best to pick a strategy that you personally have some conviction in and stay the course. Understand that there are going to be times when you do worse than your neighbor and vice versa.
In conclusion, it has been my experience that people who have focused on these 10 Pillars of Life Planning have not only financial confidence but are overall happy and have a zest of life.
To me, that is what “planning” is all about. I’d love to hear your story and help you build your plan.
Do you have questions about life planning? Please feel free to reach out!