Sharing a bit of wisdom from an insightful article by Les Goldstein.
Even with the help of a financial adviser, saving for retirement would be difficult if you don’t have clearly defined goals. With no target, how would you know when enough is enough?
To help clarify your vision for your retirement, here are four key questions that you (and your spouse if married) should discuss. The questions range from who you want to help with your money in retirement to whether or not you plan to leave any money left at the end. With clear eyes, it is easier to focus on making sure all your retirement plans comes to fruition.
Who do you want to help with your money?
Answering “myself” or “ourselves” is a perfectly acceptable answer. But if you have others you want to include — parents or children or anyone else you’ll need or want to take care of — be specific about what you’d like to be able to do for them. You could and should be exploring how you’ll cover those costs now and in the future.
Do you have any specific “bucket list” items you wish to achieve?
Have you and your spouse dreamed of traveling, moving or changing your lifestyle in any way? When do you want those things to happen? Have you considered and included the costs of these activities in your financial plan?
You can’t take it with you, so do you want to live large or leave some behind?
Is it OK to spend every penny you have during your lifetime, so that the last payment to the funeral home barely clears, or does leaving a financial legacy matter to you? Which people or organizations should receive your money? An adviser can help you set up a course of action (a will, a trust, life insurance, etc.) to help you achieve your legacy goals in the most tax-efficient manner possible.
What would happen if you or your spouse became sick or disabled?
Have you talked about what kind of care you’d prefer if it’s required (e.g., skilled care in your home, adult day care, an assisted living facility)? How would you pay for care, and how would your choices affect your loved ones in the short and long term?
Bottom line - money is a very personal topic, and sharing your thoughts on these issues can be uncomfortable — particularly if you and your spouse disagree on your various goals. But if you’ve never thought about your money in this way before, this can be a powerful and revealing exercise. Complete it thoughtfully, and discuss your options with the people affected.