While cleaning up and doing tent maintenance after a recent Orland Park Cub Scout camping trip, I thought about how important it is to perform maintenance on many items including my investment accounts. This part of financial planning is necessary yet a very unexciting chore. I perform such cleaning tasks as making sure beneficiaries are up to date, the account address is still correct, check if the account still needed or can it be consolidated, are the investments in the account still appropriate, and much more. These tasks can be challenging to get done because they are often tedious and take time to complete. That is time that competes with many other perhaps more pressing needs. I feel better when I get such maintenance done, knowing I am taking care of my family’s future.
My son has school required reading of 20 minutes six days per week. I have been fortunate to discover the Bluestem book collection at the Orland Park Public Library. He is enjoying these award nominated books. In the process, I have recommitted to reading I enjoy which includes some fiction and fun financial planning reading. This reading is part of my evening down time away from electronic screens before bed. It rejuvenates and relaxes me after a long day.
Variety also called Diversification
Often in financial planning, folks think of variety as in diversification of an investment portfolio. There is another important form of diversification especially in retirement. That is creating a variety of different sources of income. These sources of cash flow include pensions, bond ladders, rental real estate, investment dividends, Social Security and even part time work. In the financial independence phase of life, it is important to not rely on a single source of income that might dry up. Creating diverse sources is critical in retirement planning.
Protecting our income throughout our financial lives is so very important. During our working years, we convert my human capital (potential to earn) into financial capital (potential to spend/save). That is our employment efforts convert into currency to exchange or save for future spending. Later in financial independence, money is reconverted into those things need to survive (food and shelter) and other items for enjoyment.
Financial Independence which maybe, but, is not always retirement can last 30 or more years. In short, that is 30 years of unemployment. During financial independence, it is important to safeguard that income potential by taking less stock market risk, insuring our portfolios are diversified, converting 401Ks to an income stream, insuring banks accounts are FDIC protected, and that our social security strategy is optimized. These are the kind of steps that help give real longevity to long term financial independence.
Talking about Money
Talking about money is often taboo in our society. I perceive this is like a squirrel telling other squirrels where he or she hid his/her nuts for the long cold winter. I have heard locker room like talk about successful stock purchases. Actually, I have heard these mentioned in an Orland Park locker room. These ramblings are more like brags and the braggarts don’t mention the losses suffered. I frequently see the losses when preparing taxes.
Financial planning done right can give voice to talking about money. Sometimes just talking about an issue helps reduce negativity the topic and can do so in our financial lives. This is not therapy rather it is taking stock (pun intended) of what is truly going on and addressing as we are best able. It can be challenging to discuss. As a financial planner, I find it rewarding to talk with folks about their money in ways they have not previously considered.
Is the Stock Market too high (or too low)?
I have no idea. Recent stock market volatility might or might not point to major Wall Street sell off. Having a diversified portfolio with appropriate risk helps weather the sometimes-violent storms in the stock market. Market risks are inherent to equity (stock type) investments. This and other risks are beyond the individual investors control.
I, as individual investor, when considering my risk tolerance consider my emotional risk tolerance, investor education level, people dependent on me for support, level of risk needed to reach financial goals, other risks taken (like real estate), how much am I saving, job stability and deflation/inflation risks. This goes well beyond the how much emotional risk I can tolerate rather it controls for other risks in my life and usually results in a more conservative portfolio. I can use such a portfolio as an umbrella to weather the storms of Wall Street while in Orland Park.
Real Estate is often a significant part of a family’s net worth. Like others my house is good part of my personal net worth. Living in Orland Park, I am fortunate to experience rising real estate values that increase my wealth. My personal residence provides lifestyle enjoyment as well protection hard economic times with a fixed mortgage payment that will not change. Having the mortgage helps me leverage paying for the house in the future with cheaper inflated dollars and thus helping to provide inflation protection to my net worth. Therefore, I do not have dollars locked up in the house and can put them to work in my portfolio.