We had already bought a house, paid off our student loans and were socking away a small stash into our respective retirement accounts. If I had to compare ourselves to most young couples, I would say were doing pretty well. Hell, I think we were rocking it!
But things got serious when we brought our first son into the world. He was handsome and sweet and perfect in every way. And as we gazed into his big brown eyes and became mesmerized by his dimples, we both knew we wanted to do everything possible to protect him and give him the best life possible.
So we met with a financial planner.
The idea of meeting with a finance geek both delighted and scared the crap out of me. Anyone who knows me understands I am a total planner, but I was worried about what we would hear.
- Were we saving enough?
- Did we have major gaps in our portfolio?
- Would we be able to pay for all of the needs of our son, and avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck? After all, kids are EXPENSIVE!
Before our big meeting, we were tasked with pulling together a number of documents for the planner to review – pay stubs, retirement account options and returns, savings account details, insurance policies and beyond. We additionally filled out a questionnaire about our feelings regarding financial risk, our short-term and near-term goals, our desires for life post-retirement, and the financial situation we wanted to create for our kids.
It was heavy stuff to address, but we ticked off each to-do and eventually met face-to-face with the planner.
As we talked about our situation, the financial planner assured us he was there to look at our desired goals and help us create options and scenarios for us to meet that vision.
With the birth of our son and a relatively new mortgage, we realized we immediately needed to increase our life insurance policies and create a Living Trust. We also started to discuss college plans –and how we felt about saving for our son and the kids to come. Were we trying to save enough to send junior to the Ivy Leagues with 100% coverage, or did we want to have enough for a solid state university? Or did we want our kids to pay for some of their college education themselves?
The great thing about these conversations is that there really weren’t any wrong responses. We simply needed to know where we wanted to go, and the planner helped us do the math and run the scenarios.
It took some time to get everything in place, but we did it. And after we created our plan, my husband and I both felt so much relief. Yes, we had some BIG goals, but now we know what we need to do to make progress. There was no more guessing or hoping or dreaming. There will always be variables that can impact our numbers and savings goals, but that is why we created options and different scenarios.
And getting that Living Trust in place was HUGE. It forced us to have the difficult conversations around guardianship for our kids, in the event something happened to us, and define medical wishes for ourselves.
As I fast forward to present day, I’m really proud of my husband and me for taking this big step on our financial journey together. It was scary, but now I feel like our little team has a playbook, and while it might need some tweaking from time to time, we are focused and at-peace with the decisions we are making every month.
Have you had a significant A-ha financial moment on your life journey? Please share.
And with it being Financial Literacy Month, I’d encourage you to check out some other great posts on financial A-ha moments at the online Financial Literacy Carnival, sponsored by Shannon Ryan at The Heavy Purse.