Making Cents: A glimpse into your future
By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST
There are probably a few good things that may come out of the COVID situation. The most lasting of which may be a glimpse into what life will look like post work. Whether you’re employed or not, social activity has been largely curtailed during 2020. Learning how to use your time in a productive way besides work is something that many do not think about until work is history.
We talk frequently about the reality that we each only have 168 hours per week. Back out the essentials like sleep, meals, bathing, and everything else that are must do’s to maintain your style of living and you get what will someday be discretionary hours. This is the time where you have no appointments, obligations, or anything else to deter you from doing exactly what you want to.
Use this un-social period to think about this. It will reap rewards later, but you may also find in the short term that having a clearer vision regarding how you want to spend your discretionary time may inspire you. It can inspire you to be a bit more serious about your career, savings or anything else that is either an impediment or an enabler to your vision of the ideal use of your time.
It’s easy to think about all the fun stuff that you may want to do. That list is long and varied for most. But to get you thinking beyond the fun and games you may see in your future, break down your activities into categories. Some of the more common categories may be family, charity, health, entertainment, friends, spiritual, financial and professional.
Evaluate everything in terms of where you are currently with respect to that category and where you’d like to be, both now and in retirement. At this stage of your searching, do not let finances get in the way. Use this exercise to openly think about the ideal use of time, and what brings you the most joy. You may even extend the thinking to your legacy, and what you’d like it to say about you and your relationships.
It’s also a good idea to go through this exercise separate from a spouse or life partner. Allow each to freely think about their desired future without influence. Then come together to compare notes and decide what makes the final cut for each of you.
After soul searching, it’s time to quantify your desires in terms of cost, time frame and funding. This may cause an entirely new financial forecast to be sure that you can afford this. If you can’t, it’s time to figure out what you need to do to afford what you want, or, begin adapting your list to your budget. Don’t forget to stress test your plan for the unforeseen events that happen to all of us. It may be bad health, a bad economy or poor executions on savings and investments.
This isn’t easy. But it is easier to plan for it now than to figure it out when you get there.
John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA is CEO of US Wealth Management in Braintree, MA. Visit JohnPNapolitano on LinkedIn or uswealthnapolitano.com. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. John Napolitano is a registered principal with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through US Financial Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisor. US Financial Advisors and US Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. He can be reached at 781-849-9200.