When Life Happens: Introduction

The first thing to understand about life is this: life just keeps happening. You grow up, you grow older; you get a job, you retire; you meet someone, you get married, you get divorced. You have kids. You make plans for when you die. Sometimes life catches you by surprise but, for most of us, the big life events are roughly the same and they can be planned for—indeed, it’s imperative that you do so. 

Even the unexpected events that overtake us in the course of a lifetime can, to a large degree, be planned for—often that plan is called “insurance.”

Every life begins with birth and every life ends with death, at least as far as your financial plan or road map is concerned. Sure, the financial impact of a life may continue after death through the execution of your estate plan, but your control over that begins and ends with planning and structuring your wishes in a legal and financial framework prior to death.

There are a number of ways to get your head (and heart, I think) around a financial plan and road map.  For instance, you could approach the planning process by breaking your financial road map down into its components:  retirement planning, investment planning, education planning, risk management planning, tax planning, etc.  

A more human way—a more real, everyday way to approach your financial plan is to look at the facts of your life and plan for and around your life.  Most of those components just mentioned are certainly going to be part of the discussion, but they will be discussed in the context of the life that’s being lived, a life that’s being anticipated, a life that has taken you by surprise…

With software and some data, we can definitely create graphics for you full of factual and projected information:  from pie charts and scatter graphs to timelines, Monte Carlo simulations, and cash flow projections. All of these are useful, and we look at them on a daily basis.

None of them are the reason I show up at work every day.

Part of my daily routine when driving to work is to spend my commute praying, meditating, or just thinking about life and why I do what I do.  It’s not about charts and graphs, it’s not about preparing one more tax return, it’s not about doing yet another tax projection, and it’s not even about creating a stronger bottom line for our firm.  Those are processes and results, but not the motivation.

At least part of my “why” is that I’m generally looking forward to getting up, out of the house, and into the office most days so that I can help clients navigate the complexities of life, whether that be our infamous United States Code (our tax code) or just those events and stages of life that we all find ourselves handling.

There is virtually no stage or aspect of life (or life event) that is not touched by finances in general and taxes in particular.  The opportunity to work as a partner to my clients, collaborating over the course of years to make all of this make sense: that’s my motivation in business.

I’m not inventing something new here.  Using life events as a framework for a holistic, integrated financial plan is not uncommon—in fact, it’s just naturally intuitive.  Over the next few months, I plan to write a series of articles that I hope will be helpful in promoting different ways of thinking, new discussions within families and with advisors, and perhaps opportunities for our firm to be a part of developing your financial road map. 

I look forward to you joining me on this journey. In the meantime, if you’d like to start your partnership with a trusted financial advisor today, call our offices at 214-763-5167.

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From the desk of David Freeze, CPA/PFS.