As a financial planner, I think the best way to judge success is not by counting how much money my clients have made on their investments—though that certainly is a measure—rather, I think success can be measured in the ways I’ve helped my clients navigate life events (big, small, trying, or joyous). Financial planning and financial security happen in these moments. Because of this, I wanted to share some real-life examples of instances where I’ve helped my clients achieve comfort and financial security beyond just the numbers on their bank statements.
Analyzing the Right Time to Downsize
I recently helped a couple navigate the decision to downsize their house. I’d been working with this couple for several years to develop their retirement plan, and through this process, they understood they’d need to downsize their home at some point. Doing so would allow them to:
- Reduce costs
- Unlock equity
- Eventually have a fully paid-off home
- Reduce withdrawals against their retirement funds
- Make their retirement lifestyle more sustainable
Our annual analysis of the situation put the decision in perspective, helping them understand the long-term ramifications of delaying downsizing each year. We analyzed the most recent market performance against their cash-flow needs to project the best timeline for downsizing.
When the time came to pull the trigger, we worked together to determine the best way to finance the purchase on a short-term basis since the current real estate market requires a competitive means of financing. We analyzed options such as cash-out mortgages, home equity lines of credit (HELOC), temporary withdrawals from qualified retirement accounts, and traditional financing of the new residence.
Our work helped the clients feel comfortable that they were making the best decision. They opted to take a HELOC against the current primary residence. In doing so, they used the cash from the loan to pay for the new condo, which gave them time to move from one place to the other without feeling rushed. They will also be able to pay off the HELOC used for the purchase once they sell the current home. It was a win-win scenario that helped the clients achieve their goal and improve their retirement stability.
Understanding the Impact of Receiving an Inheritance
A number of my clients have inherited money recently and needed help understanding how this would impact their financial plans, as well as how to go about actually receiving the inheritance. Will it allow them to retire sooner? Would they rather use the funds for something short term that perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise? How do they go about claiming the funds, and what are the tax consequences of receiving this money?
In analyzing these scenarios, I’ve also helped my clients navigate the emotional aspects that come with inheritances. There is often an attachment to the way the inherited funds were being invested originally, which in some cases is not necessarily a good thing. For instance, clients may hesitate to make changes to these investments because they want to keep a part of what their mom, dad, or loved one owned. This can create a scenario in which the inherited account holdings may not line up with the client’s existing risk tolerance, negatively affecting their portfolio performance over time. I help my clients come to terms with this attachment and ultimately make the best decision for their unique situation, all the while keeping the needs of their overall plan in mind.
When managed prudently, an inheritance can help put people in a much better position financially and provide comfort regarding the future. When it is not given the proper attention or thought, however, an inheritance can end up costing clients a fair deal in taxes and it may not perform as well as they hoped—especially if it continues to be managed by a third-party advisor that is unfamiliar with the recipient’s needs, wants, objectives, and personal opinions or beliefs toward financial matters.
Deciding When to Retire
The last six months has seen a lot of speculation about rising interest rates. As such, I’ve had several clients question whether or not they should retire based on how rising interest rates will affect their lump-sum pensions. Some clients have already decided to retire and “lock in” the current value of their benefit, which for many has been at an all-time high given the very low interest rates we have today.
Other clients are not quite ready to retire, but they are still concerned and don’t want to jeopardize losing substantial value for the sake of working a couple more years. They are still on the fence, but I help them keep perspective by projecting their cash flow needs and analyzing the potential impact of rising rates on their ability to successfully retire. Together, we go through the benefits of waiting versus retiring now, weighing the potential costs of each scenario and making the best decision for their unique situation.
Do you have questions about some of the topics I mentioned here? These are just a few of the concerns I help my clients navigate through a comprehensive approach to financial planning. At Center for Wealth Management, we will work together to provide a financial future you can feel confident in. If you are ready to take the next step in your financial journey, I encourage you to reach out to me by scheduling a free introductory meeting online, calling (248) 220-4321, or emailing me at email@example.com.
The preceding examples are case studies and are for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance and results will vary. These case studies do not constitute a recommendation as to the suitability of any investment for any person or persons having circumstances similar to those portrayed, and a financial advisor should be consulted. These case studies do not represent actual clients but a hypothetical composite of various client experiences and issues. Any resemblance to actual people or situations is purely coincidental.
Justin Williamson is a senior partner and co-owner of Center for Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based wealth management company in Troy, Michigan. Justin has been serving clients in the financial services industry since 2001. He spends his days helping his clients achieve their financial goals and make the best decisions for their families so they can spend time on what they love and experience financial peace of mind. Justin is known for his dedication, integrity, personal touch, and ability to simplify complex issues. Justin specializes in serving engineers and other professionals who are close to retirement or recently retired and helping them maximize their benefits and create a retirement plan they can rely on. He is a seasoned public speaker and presents at numerous corporate events each year on retirement planning, Medicare, Social Security, and other financial topics. Justin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Personal Financial Planning from Central Michigan University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner.
Outside of work, Justin enjoys spending time with his family. He lost his wife of 18 years, Heather, to brain cancer in 2020. He and his son, Carter, and twin daughters, Jaden and Kelsey, work to honor her and make her proud each day. Outside of work, you can usually find him coaching baseball, softball, and basketball, and spending time at their family cabin at Higgins Lake. Learn more about Justin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.