In the Thick of It- The Young Working Couple
Jack & Andrea, Age 45
Jack and Andrea can’t exactly remember when the last time they sat down to have a long talk was. They are so tired from running kids in different directions and trying to keep everything running smoothly, that their financial planning has been more of a “well let’s just do what we can do and see where we go” plan.
Jack feels confident about his earning power though. He’s a small business-man who was lucky enough to sell an app and recognized a reasonable sum a few years back. In addition, he has options in a small entrepreneurial company that may be paying off in the next couple of years. Andrea works part time in a small company doing administrative work.
There are quite a few issues they need to deal with in their under-managed portfolio and tax consequences for their options. But all they really can think about is that college starts in two years for their oldest, and they want to make sure they are positioned in such a way to understand what their costs are likely to be, get some help for their daughter in choosing the right school for her, and learn their way through the maze of information that is the college process.
They know there are other things to deal with – but they have priorities right now.
First order of business – slowing down a bit to recognize where they have been and where they want to go. After going back and forth about not having enough time to meet with us, we finally got them to think about their meetings here like doctor's appointments- necessary to financial health. With that thought in mind, they were able to take a little time off and go through this process.
Setting proper priorities is important for this couple. While it is paramount to them that they set their daughter off in the right direction, there are other issues that may well set that goal off track, either now or in the future. After talking it over, they decided that it was time to do a comprehensive financial plan, and not just deal with the most pressing issues at any given time. In that way, they would be able to see the whole picture and properly prioritize.
Course of Action
First, we needed to develop a comprehensive list of their assets. The high-tech field has been volatile, and Jack finds himself with several 401k’s from various employers. He has no asset allocation plan other than a basic understanding of investments and risk. These plans are not tied to his own plans – adjusting this became a priority.
Next, we needed to understand their goals. To do this, we provided a number of worksheets that helped the couple work through some of the personal discussions necessary to be future thinking. Until now, they did not feel as though this exercise was worthy of their time. It didn't feel real enough to make sense given their uncertain (in a good way) future. We showed them that they weren’t making decisions, just laying the groundwork so they can follow a path.
Other various items needed to be addressed, such as understanding the dependence on Jack’s income and on Andrea’s work not only outside the house but with the kids. That would not be easily replaced. Life insurance and Disability insurance needed to be addressed. They needed not only to make plans, but protect them.
Finally, true to their original feelings, we would leverage the knowledge and experiences of our advisors and sit down with their daughter, discuss the goals that she had set, and help them all take the next step to her important college entrance process. This included additional customized and financial strategies geared with this aspect in mind, discussed along with Andrea and Jack of course.
Can’t say we got this one done in a meeting or two! But, this couple remained surprisingly patient as we worked through each meeting developing strategies and properly balancing their priorities.