How we helped Paul and Carol achieve their financial goals for college, retirement, and life!

Paul and Carol were in their 40s when they first came to see us. They have children and the numbers they had heard for college costs were intimidating! Paul and Carol had done their best to do all the right things: they got a good education, work diligently in their careers, had a beautiful family, a comfortable home, and had sacrificed to save consistently using their retirement plans at work. They felt like they had been pretty financially responsible but looming college costs were daunting and life just seemed to be getting financially complicated to the point where they wanted to meet with a financial advisor to help guide them through the next steps in their lives.

We started out by getting to know Paul and Carol — what they enjoy, how they think about family, work, and money, and the future they envision. They talked about their children — what their kids enjoy and have an aptitude for, their personalities, and the direction they might head in life. We talked about the limited time left with their kids at home and what experiences they wanted to have with them. We asked Paul and Carol to describe what helping their kids get a good start in life looks like to them. And they talked with us about practical things like home remodeling — that purple Jacuzzi tub in their bathroom has got to go! We talked about how they think about retirement and how they envision those years. Although there are a number of things they don’t know yet, like where their kids might live when they grow up and where their own careers might take them, we were able to establish a good baseline for their expectations in retirement and what kind of income they might need to provide for that. Using our strong understanding of their goals and preferences, we were able to run income projections for retirement, while helping them get a grip on college costs.

Student and his family celebrating graduation

Together, we were able to put together a realistic plan to:

  • Retire on time with less anxiety
  • Provide for college, with flexibility for the unknowns
  • Free up the cash necessary to do those home improvements (bye bye purple Jacuzzi!)
  • Create a significant annual budget for family vacations — experiences they now look back on as some of their most precious family memories

Once we addressed these big picture planning items, we were able to work through a whole host of significant second-tier priorities including:

  • Developing a will, living will, and power of attorney with a lawyer we introduced who they feel really comfortable with
  • Beefing up their life insurance coverage
  • Reviewing their health and disability insurance programs through work, and evaluating Carol’s flexible spending account and Paul’s employee stock purchase plans through work
  • Reviewing their auto and homeowners insurance, recommended a personal umbrella liability policy, and introducing them to an independent agency (a sister company of ours) who was able to enhance their coverage for less money by shopping among various insurance companies
  • Updating their retirement plan and life insurance beneficiary designations to coordinate with their will so their estate plan is complete and up-to-date
  • Reviewing their retirement plans through work, offering advice on investment allocations in those plans, and helping them roll over and manage their old retirement plans from former jobs
  • Evaluating different college savings programs, including 529 plans for their children’s education savings, and helping decide how much to put into a 529 versus a regular account that is more flexible
  • Reviewing their mortgage and home equity line of credit and providing advice on the best way to structure their debt to minimize cost and provide maximum flexibility, all while working toward a debt-free retirement

We were even able to run the numbers and help Paul and Carol decide whether to buy or lease their last car. If you have similar circumstances as Paul and Carol or even a purple Jacuzzi tub in your bathroom, give us a call! Let’s see what we can do together.

Actual performance and results will vary. These case studies do not constitute a recommendation as to the suitability of any investment for any person or persons having circumstances similar to those portrayed, and a financial advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation.