Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Which We Con$ider the Future

In case you thought there was a logical chronology to this blog - well, that's just not happening. Join me in the WABAC machine for a funny story.

Sherman and Mr. Peabody enter the WABAC machine ca. 1960 to witness another time and place in history

In 2004 I was doing volunteer work for a particular presidential candidate, who wasn't the Republican. In my canvassing group was a very nice man who, it turned out, was a financial planner. And a Democrat! (that's the funny part)  We got to talking and Bill and I decided that our hit or miss style of investing (based loosely and emotionally on buying high and selling low) wasn't building the nest egg we might need some day in the far-off future. And, although we were young-at-heart, the clock was ticking and financial planning seemed like the grown-up thing to do.

This was the single best thing we could have done.

Our new friend, Doug Hanke, former president and owner of Florida Financial Advisers, connected us with a senior adviser, Rhonda Holifield. To their credit, never once did either laugh at our strange array of holdings, at least not in our presence. Rhonda oversaw the consolidation and re-allocation of our investments, and turned our madness into a method.  She subsequently started her own company, Holifield Huntley, and we've stuck with her. She's been a rock during these turbulent financial times and helped to expand the possibilities available to us.

(BTW, here's what appealed to us about Doug and Rhonda: they are fee-only financial advisers, which means they don't get commissions or any other kind of payment for peddling investment products. They work for their clients. Period.)

Remember the 4 great mysteries? A big part of "How" involves money.  You can simplify your life, strip it down to what's meaningful, eliminate the excess, but you still need to pay the bills. And have fun.  Don't forget the fun. For us, it often involves (1) music or (2) food or (3) the outdoors or, best of all, all of the above, with a bunch of friends thrown in!  (Our idea of bliss: a trip to the 2011 New Orleans Jazz Festival, where the weather was perfect, we saw the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, back-to-back on the same stage and discovered char-grilled oysters at Drago's)  Here's a food porn photo, courtesy of Drago's, just to make you jealous:

So, I have some unsolicited advice.  No matter where you are in life, save as much as you can. Put away the max allowed in your 401k or IRA or whatever. Squirrel it away now. You won't miss it. If you're fortunate enough to work for a company that matches in full or part, take advantage of that. And get honest professional advice on how to invest it, based on your age and circumstance. It's never too early, and rarely too late, to start.

How are you planning for your financial future?

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