Couple enjoying retirement after hitting financial goals

Making the Most of the New Year: Hit Your Financial Goals and Get Closer to a Stress-Free Retirement in 2020

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your ideal retirement. What does it look like? Are you living in a new home right next to the beach, spending summers with your grandchildren, or putting in hours at a local charity that you care deeply about? Thinking about what you’d like your future to look like is an important step in building the retirement you want, but the next one is even more crucial: you have to set goals to get there. 

Perhaps achieving the retirement of your dreams will take more saving and less spending, or shifting your allocations so that your money can grow more now, while you’re young, to allow enough funds to build up over time. Making changes to accomplish what you set out to do can be challenging, particularly if it requires a significant shift in your lifestyle or mindset. But the New Year is right around the corner, and with it comes a fresh opportunity to make strides toward your goals. With a little strategy and discipline, you can make 2020 your most productive year yet. 

We’ve covered a crucial aspect of establishing financial security time and again on this blog: finding a wealth manager who will familiarize themselves with your circumstances and aspirations, and help you make a plan to reach them. It may seem redundant, but I cannot stress how essential having a clear picture—a map of sorts—of where you’re heading is to actually making it to that destination, as well as a competent guide, of course.

Once you’ve found a wealth manager or financial advisor who knows what you want and has established a path to get you there, it is imperative to listen to him or her and stay the course. The market may do things that make you want to go all in or head for the hills, but if you’re working with a qualified professional, he or she has put a lot of thought into your strategy and there is a method to what may seem like madness. Often, the madness is actually demonstrated by investors themselves, who let fear, rather than logic and experience, drive their behavior. You’ve chosen to work with your wealth manager for a reason, so trust them. When you follow their instructions about saving and spending, and let them manage your account in the way they see fit (which is exactly what you’re paying them to do), you’ll find yourself on the road to meeting those goals—and maintaining something incredibly important along the way: peace of mind.

Are You Financially Prepared for a Relaxing Retirement?

If you’re still managing the daily grind, you may be dreaming of the day when your retirement rolls around. “When I retire, I’ll finally be able to relax,” you may be telling yourself, imagining that without a job to report to, relaxation will simply become your default mode—much the way stress is today. I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not quite how it works.

The truth is, it’s not the ample time available in retirement that cultivates relaxation, it’s the preparation you do in advance. After all, if you find yourself without an income and more expenses than you had originally accounted for, your days certainly won’t be worry-free—no matter how many unscheduled hours you have on your hands. You also won’t necessarily be able to afford the luxuries that make retirement a walk in the park: golf, trips to see family and friends or to explore exotic locales, yoga and exercise classes, and more—you may be limited to the walk itself. 

Still, time after time, I see people bring a totally different mindset to saving for retirement than they do to living in retirement. While they can barely be bothered to come in for an annual review of their portfolio when they’re still working, after retirement they watch their account like a hawk, panicking with every market fluctuation.

But if they’ve been working with me for a while, we’ve been preparing for the inevitable ebb and flow of the markets—ones they have undoubtedly experienced over the years. They can breathe easier, because we’ve created enough of a cushion to allow them to actually enjoy their retirement, regardless of what the markets are doing.

However, their anxiety is only natural. Moving from work to retirement is a monumental shift. They’re transitioning from working to live, to living off a lifetime of work—all on a dime (though hopefully not literally), and it’s only logical to be concerned about whether they’ve done enough in advance.

But you can certainly assuage some of that fear and up the chances that retirement will indeed be as relaxing as you imagine. The way to do that is to put in the effort now, well before your last day on the job. And luckily, you can start making progress toward a less stressful future with two easy, but crucial, steps:

  1. find and work with an advisor your trust who upholds the fiduciary standard, and
  1. help that person understand what relaxation looks like to you, so that they can help you get there

It sounds simple, but it will make a tremendous difference in your future—and how you feel about it. For more insight on finding an advisor who can help you meet your financial goals, visit debrabrede.com.

Financial Management and the Holidays: How to Win the Fourth Quarter

You’ve likely worked hard all year long to save and spend responsibly. But with the holidays right around the corner, you may notice that it’s not only the temperatures that are dipping—it’s also your bank account. Chances are, your heating bills aren’t solely to blame for those dwindling dollars. With so many opportunities to get into the spirit and celebrate, it’s not unusual to find oneself indulging—and expending—a bit too much. If that’s the case for you, you’re not alone. According to a recent Gallup poll, 33 percent of Americans expect to spend at least $1,000 on gifts—and those numbers continue to climb, with last year’s holiday spending projections exceeding every year prior. But just because the rest of the country is upping the ante on the most expensive time of the year doesn’t mean you have to.

In fact, to keep your household balance sheet in check, it’s essential to be conscientious about the last—but certainly not least important—quarter. But you don’t have to be a scrooge about it. There are plenty of ways to celebrate and enjoy without going wild. And when all is said and done, your wallet will thank you. Here are a handful of tips to come out of the fourth quarter on top:

  1. Prioritize: What do you find most meaningful about the holidays? Beautiful meals? Time with family and friends? A big-ticket gift that will bring you joy all year round? When you identify what’s important to you, you can allocate your resources accordingly.
  2. Set a budget: Determining how much you can afford to spend is always a good idea, no matter how much cash you’re working with. With a dollar amount in mind, you can avoid excessive purchasing and ultimately sail into January feeling gratified rather than guilty.
  3. Make a list and check it twice: With advertising reaching a fever pitch as the holidays near, it’s a good idea to settle on whom you’ll be buying for and what you plan to get them. Having gifts—and corresponding prices—in mind can help prevent impulse buys and last minute dashes to the store (or a certain buy-with-one-click online retailer).
  4. Treat yourself: Avoid feeling depleted financially or otherwise by doing your best to take care of yourself. Walks around the block, an hour alone with a book, and even a haircut are all free or low-cost ways to keep your sanity during an otherwise stressful time.

With a little bit of planning, you can conquer the holidays and win the fourth quarter, without losing an arm and a leg. For more information on managing your money anytime of year, visit debrabrede.com.