The sample size of the survey, 2000 Britons, was small, yet the conclusions offer interesting points for discussion. Commissioned by a British theater chain, over half of the adults queried indicated they felt life was “least fun” around age 45. As one gets older it is harder to enjoy life as much as one did in childhood, participants opined.

Do you believe that the “concept of fun” ended when you entered adulthood? To quote the piece, studyfinds.org (10/18/19), “A depressing 10 percent of respondents say they don’t partake in any fun during a typical week…They don’t have the money; they don’t have the energy; or, somehow, they just don’t know how to have fun.” If fun eludes you, perhaps a psychological reboot is in order.

From a financial life-planning standpoint, it’s axiomatic that before you can turn to fun, leisure, self-actualization, you must feel secure. If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, outgo exceeds income, debts are piling up, your job isn’t secure, even when you’re doing something you think might be fun, there’s a “money gremlin” sitting on your shoulder hurling guilt trip barbs into your consciousness. “Hey, bucko, you’re spending money, running up more debt, drinking your life away, spending on stupid stuff, when you should be paying down expensive credit card debt. What about your New Year’s resolution to look for a better job?”

Nag, nag, nag. Bad money habits take the fun out of life!

That’s why as advisors we preach a “freedom fund” philosophy as a basis for “fiscal fitness” early in life. Resolve to build sufficient savings to fund your life, and take care of your family if married, for a minimum of one year with no paycheck or other income. Once you have a basic nest egg in place, vexing “worry birds” will stop pecking away at your subconscious mind. Those approaching or in retirement should have in a freedom fund of at least three years of safe savings in reserve to finance cash flow needs over and above predictable income sources like Social Security or pensions. The idea is to allow more volatile asset classes in your portfolio, like stocks, to heal given erosion in a market downturn.

What is it about age 45? Somewhere between age 45 to 50, a person or couple wake up and think, “Holy smokes, in 10 short years I’ll (we’ll) be 55 to 60, and 10 short years after that, 65 to 70. It wasn’t that long ago we had big plans for the future and we aren’t anywhere near ‘mission accomplished.’” 

You still have kids in middle or high school, expenses looming, you’re not having fun at work, hate your job, aging parents have support needs that put demands on you, you are short on physical fitness goals, there’s “too much month left at the end of the money.” 

Marital tensions, natural fallout from the foregoing, add to strife. With so much swirling around in your head, no wonder fun is elusive. 

So what’s your plan? A comprehensive financial life planning process starts with unpacking exactly what worries you, what challenges you? It begins with a candid conversation and it can’t be one-sided. If you’re in a committed relationship, you and your partner should be part of the conversation. 

Here’s a question. You dump a picture puzzle with 800 pieces on a table. What’s the most important starting point in assembly of the puzzle? Most people say, “A corner piece.” The answer is, “The picture on the cover of the box!”

The starting point is to define the end game picture, what you want your future to look like, expectations, what you wish to experience. Only then can you constructively outline what truly worries you, detail your challenges. The role of an advisor is to help to take each challenge, each worry or concern, and rank them in order of importance, looking for a logical starting point couched in priority. Then for each challenge, seek alternatives and resources that will power solutions and meet expectations.

Since money worries and lack of fun or peace of mind, which have a symbiotic relationship, are symptomatic of other causes, planning discussions often center around things in addition to money. Resources may include human capital as well as financial capital. Outside consultants and experts in a particular area may be part of a resource team coordinated by your financial advisor. Beware of quick fixes and mass marketed simplicities. That’s like taking a new drug without consulting with your primary physician and other doctors

Comprehensive planning demands time and patience. You have more responsibility than you did at age 10. You can’t be 10 again but you can go to work on a plan for what’s bugging you. “Just do it.” Thanks Nike!

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553;lewis@lewwalker.com.  Securities & advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA, otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group.

 

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