Road Trip to Retirement

By Geoff Schaefer

Geoff is a Wealth Advisor with Intergy Private Wealth. He writes for The Steadfast Fiduciary to help people live with an abundant heart, open mind, and boundless generosity.

July 8, 2023

Have you ever been on a road trip?  Hours on end through barren stretches of highway.  Fuel ups at rather suspect truck stops.  Emergency roadside bathroom breaks. Sometimes the trips feel as though they will never end, but they all inevitably do.  If you are like me, you usually never have your Apple Maps open the entire trip.  You might reference it briefly, but when you hear, “stay on I-70 for 278 miles”, you know you can shut it down and simply drive east for a few hours. You will likely keep this up until the last few miles of the trip when turn by turn guidance becomes key. The turn onto 6th street matters a lot and hearing the destination is on your right signals the end of your journey. Coming off a recent road trip, this idea is fresh on my mind and the idea of a road trip brings up many parallels to a good retirement plan.

In a road trip and a retirement plan, we much have a destination.  There is a location we would like to get to and a desired future state we would like our lives to be. A Goldman Sachs survey found that over 95% of respondents believed a financial plan and a relationship with a financial planner would increase their likelihood for success in retirement, but only 33% of Americans have a some form of written financial plan. A large chunk of those believes their plan is outdated or does not reflect their values. Reading that, I’d wonder, do only 33% of Americans use a map or GPS app on their road trips.

Starting a financial plan can be relatively simple.  No amount of money is needed and no life stage is the magical trigger to call a CFP®. Much like a road trip, the first part of the financial plan might simply be getting you going in the right direction and then simply chugging along.  You cannot skip steps. On a road trip, you cannot fill up a car with gas while still traveling 80mph on the highway. In the same way, a retirement plan cannot jump to investment allocations before first taking care of budgeting, debt planning and insurance planning.  Steps you take lead you to the next part of your journey and each step is equally as important.

A plan gives you confidence.  Apple Maps is not always perfect. A wreck, road work or a flat tire can throw off your ETA, but the plan still helps.  A financial plan won’t insulate you from unforeseen events. Nothing can. What a financial plan will do is give you the confidence to take the first step and the patience to await the next. Sometimes the financial plan will require complexity, nuance, twist and turns at every juncture.  Often times you’ll find; it simply involves going east for 278 miles.

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