Living a Financially Sustainable Lifestyle
Doug Loftus and Eric Loftus
Photo by Brian Ambs
Are you living a financially secure life that can sustain your family into retirement?
A financially sustainable lifestyle means living in a way that does not deplete essential financial resources necessary for a comfortable and secure future. It is about creating a standard of living that endures over the long run and can weather the unexpected. In the face of longer life expectancy and the increasing cost of healthcare, the need to live a sustainable lifestyle to best position yourself for retirement has never been greater.
Blue Ash-based Wealth Dimensions Group works with clients to develop financial plans that become a blueprint for making smart decisions. According to Doug Loftus, managing member at Wealth Dimensions Group, “A good financial plan should integrate well-defined family goals with assets, resources and everything else that impacts the outcome clients are trying to achieve. When you do this, you have a higher level of commitment to the plan with clients who are able to overcome obstacles and stay on track.”
A detailed plan provides household members with a framework for addressing both expected and unexpected issues. Plus, the planning process enables families to resolve differences in opinions among members to find common ground. Then, when difficult circumstances arise, the family is aligned and can focus on dealing with these important matters without conflict. Unfortunately, many families do not realize how unprepared they are until they are faced with making tough decisions they did not anticipate.
Supporting Family Needs Without Eroding your Retirement
Many families underestimate what it takes to transition into retirement and maintain their current lifestyle. According to a Bankrate.com survey, upper-middle-income households saved 21 percent less for retirement in 2013 than the year before, while only 14 percent were saving more.
Clearly, having a financial plan is an essential starting point. But many families today are “sandwiched” between the dual realities of aging parents and adult children struggling to become independent.
A Pew Research Study shows that the financial burdens with caring for multiple generations of family members are escalating. The study also indicates that the biggest pressures are coming primarily from grown children. This is also supported by a Harris Interactive Poll conducted in May 2011 that shows more than half (59 percent) of the respondents are providing or have provided financial support to adult children who are out of school. One explanation for this may be the Great Recession and recovery. According to a study (Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends, “ Young, Underemployed and Optimistic,” Feb. 9, 2012.), the share of young adults who were employed in 2010 was the lowest it had been since the government started collecting data in 1948. From 2007 to 2011, those young adults who were employed full-time experienced a greater drop in average weekly earnings than any other age group.
The need to have financial strategies in place for dealing with these family situations is critical. “For our clients, taking care of their family is a priority, but this needs to be balanced with their own retirement financial security,” says Tom Curti, a managing member at Wealth Dimensions Group. “Helping your adult children while jeopardizing your own retirement is a sacrifice that families cannot afford to make. No one wins in this situation, and in many cases, the best way to care for future generations may require you to make your own financial security a priority.”
Here are a few strategies that can make a difference:
1. Prepare for your own future. Where do you stand financially, and what are the boundaries necessary for you to meet your own financial goals while acknowledging that parents/children may need help? If you are not financially secure, then you are not in the position to help others.
2. Build contingency plans for the unexpected. Your plan should incorporate provisions and strategies to deal with potential contingencies. Life’s unexpected challenges will occur; being prepared will dramatically reduce the impact on your situation. If parents need help, planning ahead provides many more options.
3. Protect your future. You need to do what is best for all family members, including yourself, to assure financial security. This means being an example to your children and not risking your financial security without limits.
4. Teach financial responsibility. Teaching children fiscal responsibility is empowering. If you provide your children with money at every turn, you will not teach them financial responsibility. By educating your children on how to budget, as well as how to make sound financial decisions, you help them build skills for the long run.
Attaining a Financially Sustainable Lifestyle
While life may bring unanticipated situations, you and your family can be prepared. By living a financially sustainable lifestyle, you are able to gain control and balance your family’s needs with your own future goals. Having a detailed financial plan and making decisions in line with it lessens the financial and emotional stress. You gain a peace of mind that comes from knowing you have built a secure financial future.
To learn more about living a sustainable financial lifestyle, visit the Resource Center on the Wealth Dimensions Group website at www.wealthdimensions.com/resource-center.
Wealth Dimensions is located at 11300 Cornell Park Drive, Suite 300, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can reach them at 513.554.6000 or visit their website at www.wealthdimensions.com.