I’ve always thought that the saying, “May you live in interesting times” was a blessing or a compliment. However, Wikipedia sees it differently, saying that in actuality it’s a translation of a traditional “Chinese curse” said with irony or sarcasm. Who knew?
Without having a political thought in mind, we are definitely living in interesting times. No one could have foreseen all that is happening in our country today. In talking to friends and clients, I find that for fear of making a bad decision, it’s a challenge for many people to make a decision, period. They have FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) butting heads with FOMO (fear of missing out). So, using my book Castles & Moats as a guideline, here are some simple action items to help you avoid some of the pitfalls of our “interesting times.”
- Get Your “Moat” Organized. The book is written in order of priority, starting with auto and home insurance. Have a dedicated professional review all of your moat: home, auto, landlord, etc. If they find efficiencies and improvements, those dollars can go back into your life for other uses. One question I used to get asked was “Is my home coverage enough to rebuild it given the big increases in market value in Nashville?” It’s a valid question and if your agent can’t answer it to your satisfaction, find another agent that can! (Chapters 1 & 2)
- Review Your Life Insurance Plans. If you can qualify for a new policy with lower premiums, and maybe higher face amounts, wouldn’t you want to do that? Maybe you’ve had a term policy that is hitting the end of its level premium period? Do you know what your options are? (Chapter 8)
- Have Your Wills Reviewed. Maybe they’re outdated and the people you trusted 10 years ago are no longer in your life? Do you have powers of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions? Life Flight helicopters go over my house several times a day with people that can’t make those decisions. Full disclosure, I reviewed my will and trust last year and made significant changes that were needed. Now that they’re done, I don’t have to worry about life after I’m gone. (Chapter 12)
- Have a Written Budget. Everyone wants a big castle of financial wealth and certainty, but without a written budget finding financial efficiencies can be difficult. We know that inflation lives among us, but do you know exactly how it affects you? I swear by Quicken, and ran year to date reports on my gasoline, food, and basic costs of living. Guess what? Gasoline doubled, food costs were up 40%, and insurance premiums 30%. So how do you fair? (Chapter 13)
- Review Your Savings. Are you saving enough money on a systematic basis? You need access to cash and cash equivalents for those unforeseen expenses…and I’m not talking about cash advancing your VISA card! (Chapters 16 & 17)
- Review Your Withholdings. If you’re gainfully employed, did you know you can change your exemptions on your paycheck to reduce your withholdings so that you create a higher monthly income? You will have to adjust everything on your 1040 form next April, and your refund might be less, but more money in your paycheck helps offset the cost of inflation. Ask your human resources department about how to do this. I’m amazed how many people don’t take advantage of this.
- Review Your 401(k) and IRA. Do the underlying holdings match up with your risk tolerance and time frame? You would be amazed by some of the dysfunctional allocations I see when bringing on a new client. You should have received a June 30 quarterly statement. If you’ve got an advisor, send it to them. If not, send it to me. (Chapters 20 & 21).
As a good friend of mine said many years ago, “This ain’t rocket science.” In the Appendix section of Castles & Moats, many of these “to-dos” are laid out based on certain life events that we all go through. Some of them are normal, and unfortunately, some unforeseen.
So, you might be asking yourself, “Is he just trying to sell his book here?” Absolutely not. I wrote it as a guide to help you make good financial decisions on over 31 subjects. Basically, it’s a culmination of almost 40 years of client conversations, and there’s a lot of wisdom gained and shared in those pages. Buy a copy for yourself and maybe another one for someone you care about. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Castles & Moats is available at most book sellers but you can click here to go straight to Amazon. If you happen to be in the Franklin, TN area, I’ll be signing books at Landmark Booksellers on Thursday, Sept 8 from 5p.m. to 7p.m. CT. Please stop by, I’d love to see you.
As always, I appreciate you more than you realize, and I’m here to serve.
** Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is not indicative of future results. **