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It’s never too late or too early to start a financial plan

Customize your plan regardless of income level
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Accumulating wealth for the purpose of retirement is not something that happens organically. No matter what age you are or stage of life you are at, it is important to have a clear objective in mind for your retirement so you can start building towards your goal. Unfortunately, that kind of financial focus is far less common that it should be according to financial experts. 

“It’s shocking how few people actually have a plan,” said Jed Levene, Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of Rockwater Wealth Management. “For those who have even done a plan, it’s often a one-time thing. They did the plan, they stuffed it in a drawer and never looked at it again.”

That kind of cavalier attitude toward their financial future often leaves people in difficult situations as they inch closer to retirement. To avoid that situation, it is not only critical for people to have a plan, but also the right financial planner. Levene says each individual planner has his or her own philosophies and competencies, so it is important to choose the right one to work with.

“People have advisors that do a good job managing their money, but that’s all they do,” he said. “They’re not engaging their clients in a plan. People also think they can deal with it later, but the sooner you can get a plan going the better. It’s like saying, ‘I’m going to drive to Florida and get a map when I hit Georgia.’ Obviously, that’s not the best course of action.” 

Levene suggests meeting with a few different financial advisors to determine if their philosophies and strategies make sense for what you’re hoping to achieve financially in both the short term and long term.

“If you go see three different advisors and bring the same goal to each of them, you’re going to get different advice from each one. Some may be aggressive in the market; some may be more conservative. Some may be very detailed in their financial planning, while others may not be at all. You have to determine the direction you want to take.” 

At Rockwater Wealth Management, Levene says the goal is to simplify the planning process by taking a goals-based approach to financial planning.  Developing a solid plan is more important than the assets chosen to achieve financial goals, which should include establishing a guaranteed level of retirement income according to Levene. 

“Our firm is very big on making sure you always have your dignity in retirement,” said Levene. “We work together to find out what monthly income is needed to guarantee you’ll be able to stay in your home, to have access to transportation and to eat. We want to make sure that whatever that dollar figure is, that it’s coming from guaranteed income sources.” 

Ultimately, Levene says taking a proactive approach to your financial future is the only way to ensure you have adequate financial resources for your retirement. That means saving a portion of your discretionary income regardless of the investment strategy or rate of return. 

“You could be in a great investment earning 12 per cent a year, and I can be in a mediocre investment early 3 per cent a year,” said Levene. “But it’s possible to get a 12 per cent rate of return and achieve none of your retirement goals, or to get a 3 per cent rate of return and meet all your goals. It all depends on the plan you’re following.” 

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