Question: I think I have enough to retire, but I’m just not sure. The good thing is I still like working. I feel like I’ll probably have enough by the time I retire that I won’t be able to spend it all. Nice problem to have. But how should I do my investments in light of all this?
Answer: Maybe you have enough. Maybe you don’t. By your own admission, you don’t know.
So first, let’s get a professional second opinion on that and make sure you haven’t left something out. Contact a financial planner and ask her to help you calculate your retirement readiness.
If you and your planner confirm that you do have enough, what then?
That really depends on who you are.
Russ Alan Prince is a researcher and author who has studied financially independent individuals. (If you have enough to retire, you qualify as financially independent.)
Prince has found that this group is anything but homogeneous. High net worth individuals have widely differing sets of motivations for what they want out of life, and therefore what they want out of their money.
Here are a few examples. See if you identify with one more than the others.
The Caretaker sees himself as a steward of his family’s wealth. As one family steward told me (with a genuine tear in his eye), “I feel like I have a mission.” The caretaker is not working for himself but for his family, and possibly a beloved charity. The caretaker will tend be to very goal focused rather than focused on investment returns in any one year. The caretaker sees money as a means to an end, not the end in itself. And his time horizon stretches beyond his life expectancy.
The Independent sees money as the key to his freedom. He may be seeking freedom from work he dislikes, or freedom to do certain things – travel, entertain or experience life. He may want to share this freedom with his family, but the freedom he seeks is really his own. Therefore his time horizon matches his life expectancy and his money must meet both his short and long-term needs for freedom.
The Empire Builder sees money as his key to legacy. He is seeking significance, perhaps even at the cost of his own freedom or his family’s wealth. Though he may say he is “building all this for someone else,” everyone else knows differently. The company or the portfolio is really a statement about his accomplishments in life and is the way to both keep score and measure the size of his life’s footprint. Therefore he has a long-term time horizon with a bent for growth.
The Runaway does not like to think about money. Now, he’s not about to give it away, because the only thing he dislikes more than having to think about money is poverty. But his advisors will be constantly frustrated at their inability to get him to focus on his portfolio or to make decisions pertaining to his wealth. He wants to keep on spending without having to think about it. The runaway has no time horizon, nor any significant long-term goals beyond keeping the money coming. He is both irresponsible and a prime target for a swindler who will promise him something for nothing. The runaway is the classic trust fund baby.
Well those are four of at least nine classic characters Russ Alan Prince describes. If you’d like to read more, Google “Russ Alan Prince” and “psychographics of the wealthy.”
As you can see, what you should do with your money now depends on (1) where you are in your journey to financial independence, and (2) what your true motivations are for wealth once you have it.
Only then will you be in a position to know what to do with your investments.
Byron R. Moore, CFP® is managing director / planning group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to him at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call him at (318) 251-5858. The opinions of any single advisor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Argent Advisors, Inc. No forecasts can be guaranteed. Argent Advisors, Inc. does not offer tax, insurance or legal advice. The information contained in this column should not be construed as a substitute for personalized investment, tax, insurance or legal advice.