By Lee Sherbakoff, CPA/PFS™, CFP®, RICP®
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” as the famous saying goes. This is especially true when it comes to your finances. Most people don’t find the topic of financial planning the most exciting, or even know where to begin organizing their finances. We get it.
But just because it’s boring doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Delaying this task can be costly in many ways—in time, energy, and money. If you’ve been putting off your financial plan, you could be losing money. Consider these 5 reasons why you should stop procrastinating and start planning today.
1. You’re Probably Not Saving As Much As You Should
The first reason you shouldn’t put off financial planning is that you’re probably not saving as much as you should. That’s not to say that the savings you do have shouldn’t be celebrated. But no matter the amount you have, you need to be sure it will be enough.
If you plan to retire in your mid-60s, your retirement savings may need to carry you through 30-plus years. Not to mention rising inflation that will decrease the value of your savings over time and the additional expenses you will likely encounter along the way. A study by the Center for Retirement Research estimated that the median retirement savings of Americans age 55-64 is $120,000, (1) yet the average retirement cost is nearly $46,000 per year! (2) At that rate, a savings of $120,000 will only last 3-4 years.
The best way to avoid running out of money in retirement is to work with a financial professional to understand what your savings can handle. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot use a multiple of your annual income to determine how much to save. This is why it’s so crucial to plan ahead. The sooner you understand your need, the more options you will have and the easier your goals will be to accomplish.
2. Healthcare Costs Are on the Rise
If you’ve ever held a hefty medical bill in your hand, you aren’t alone. Healthcare costs in America are among the highest in the world. (3) And as you age, you will likely require more healthcare services. According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, the average couple at age 65 will need about $300,000 saved to cover healthcare costs in retirement. (4) Most people don’t even have that much in their retirement accounts to live on, let alone cover medical costs.
Given the events of the past two years, it’s more important than ever to start preparing for the ever-increasing cost of care. The longer you wait, the less options you’ll have. Working with an experienced professional can help you evaluate your options and build a long-term plan for healthcare.
3. Tax Strategies Take Multiple Years to Implement
Another reason not to put off financial planning is that if you don’t start early, you’ll miss out on several tax strategies that take years to implement, including:
Tax-Advantaged Retirement Savings
If you’re in a high tax bracket, being able to save for retirement with pre-tax dollars is a great advantage because pre-tax contributions reduce your taxable income and ultimately reduce the amount of taxes you owe. This strategy could save you thousands of dollars in taxes each year. The earlier you start, the more you’ll save over the course of your career.
Roth conversions help to increase your retirement savings and decrease your long-term tax liability by transferring funds from a pre-tax retirement vehicle (traditional IRA) to an after-tax account (Roth IRA). This allows your money to grow tax-free for as long as you’d like, and required minimum distributions (RMDs) are avoided as well.
When it comes to withdrawing from your retirement accounts, how you take your distributions can make all the difference. Each retirement asset (employer-sponsored accounts, Social Security, traditional IRAs, etc.) has different tax characteristics. Creating a withdrawal strategy can help lower your tax burden by structuring withdrawals from each income source in a tax-efficient way.
To properly implement these strategies and more, a long-term understanding of your full financial picture is required. Putting off financial planning can leave you stuck with a huge tax bill that could have been avoided.
4. Take Advantage of Compound Interest
Just as saving early allows you to take advantage of massive tax savings over time, there is a compound effect that occurs with the money that is invested as well. The money contributed to your retirement account each year will grow exponentially over time, but the key part of that equation is time.
A single penny that doubles every day for a month may not seem like much on the surface, especially when compared to $1 million upfront. But by the time the 30th day rolls around, you will have over $5 million in pennies. This same concept can be applied to your retirement account, but because retirement investments are at the mercy of the highs and lows of the stock market, it will take more than 30 days to see that kind of growth.
If you wait to invest, you are missing out on growth year after year, and the resulting loss of earnings can be substantial. Not to mention the potential for loss when you try to invest yourself without the proper advice and guidance of a professional. We’ve found that many clients are often invested too conservatively and miss out on the opportunity for significant growth in even just a slightly riskier portfolio.
5. Financial Planning Can Alleviate Stress
Do you feel 100% confident about the myriad of financial choices you make day in and day out? Have you encountered more complexity as your assets have grown? Partnering with a financial professional can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes from trying to figure out your finances.
Think about all the time you spend worrying over finances and whether you are saving enough money. Are those thoughts preventing you from making great memories and actually living your life? For many of our clients, the answer is yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Financial planning can help alleviate the stress that comes from not knowing where you stand or how to achieve your goals. It can provide clarity by defining a path from point A to point B and allowing you to get the most out of your life along the way.
Get Started Today
As you can see, there are many reasons to start the financial planning process sooner rather than later. If you have long-term financial goals (like buying a house, planning a wedding, or saving for retirement), working with a professional is one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success. Don’t leave your most important goals and priorities to chance.
At The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, we will build a custom plan to put your money to work for you, so that you can feel confident in your financial future. Set up a complimentary appointment so we can see if our services are the right fit for you by calling us at (865) 691-0898 or contacting us online.
Lee Sherbakoff is principal and financial advisor with The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning and investment management firm. He specializes in serving pre-retirees and retirees, helping them create and execute financial plans and retirement income plans that lead to sustainable long-term, real-life returns that meet their deepest and most important financial goals and objectives. Lee has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from The University of Tennessee and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College as well as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS™), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) certifications. Lee spent over 31 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, including serving at the Army’s highest levels in the Department of Army Staff at the Pentagon and being deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm (1991) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008-2009). Lee lives by the motto, “As I served my country, I now serve you.” When he’s not giving his best to his clients, Lee enjoys giving back to the community and to his profession. He served as a council member of the Tennessee Society of CPAs and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs. In addition, he is past President of the Knoxville Chapter of the Tennessee Society of CPAs and past President of the East Tennessee chapter of the Financial Planning Association. To learn more about Lee, connect with him on LinkedIn.
DISCLOSURES: The information provided is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product, and should not be construed as investment, legal, or tax advice. The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by third parties and its use and disclaims any liability arising out of, or reliance on the information. These indexes reflect investments for a limited period of time and do not reflect performance in different economic or market cycles and are not intended to reflect the actual outcomes of any client of The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.