Strapping In for the Financial Roller Coaster: Navigating the Ups and Downs with Confidence
As my children grow older, their fascination with roller coasters at the State Fair has grown exponentially. Each year, it becomes increasingly evident that these heart-pounding, stomach-churning rides hold a special place in their hearts. However, as a parent, I couldn’t help but question the high price of admission and tickets as we embarked on another year at The Fair.
As I gazed up at these towering structures, new doubts began to surface. Chipped paint and rusty bolts adorning the rides made me wonder… Am I paying enough? Is this contraption regularly maintained and updated? And then there was the ride attendant, whose foam flip flops, unkempt hair, and khaki shorts left me questioning my choices even further. What had I signed up for?
But then something interesting happened. As I fastened my seatbelt (And khaki shorts gave it a tug) I realized the essence of what makes roller coasters exhilarating: confidence in a successful journey. For me, the best part of the ride was not the initial plunge or the hairpin turns. It was the moment when I stepped off the ride, looked at the photos taken during our journey, and remembered the thrill—all while knowing that I had remained securely on track.
The Stock Market is often called a roller coaster. Rightfully so. There are exhilarating highs and stomach-churning lows. And just like on a roller coaster, it is a lot more fun if we have confidence that we are firmly on track.
The best way to build confidence in your financial picture is to have a plan, and revisit it often.
When serving our clients, we have 3 steps to our planning process. We use these steps to help clients know where they stand, and consistently check if they remain on track for their goals.
Step 1: FACTS
Before the journey, we need to take inventory of where you are to start. This is everything from account balances, to life goals, to insurance coverage, to family relationships. By assembling and organizing all relevant facts, a client knows where they stand today.
Step 2: PLANS
Here is where we move from Facts to Assumptions. We assume things like how long you will live, how fast your investments will grow, what you will spend each year, if inflation will be high or low, the potential cost of your daughters wedding in 7 years, where you will travel, what you health might be, or any other scenarios that are personalized and important to you. The Assumptions allow us to envision a future and determine you are on track to a successful outcome.
Steps 3: “WHAT IF…”
If we build a plan and everything looks on track, we can model What If scenarios to check the strength of the plan and build confidence in our assumptions. Questions like, what if market returns are below average or inflation runs high? What if Long Term Care is needed or an untimely death occurs?
If the initial plan indicates a client is NOT on track, What if modelling can help develop solutions for success. What if spending decreased or savings increased? What if you downsized a home or adjusted investment allocations?
The most important thing to remember is that planning is a process. Just like a regular maintenance on a roller coaster improves my confidence in a successful outcome, regular updates to a financial plan make it more likely that you can stay on track.