While writing a check the other day and forgetting to write 2014 instead of 2013, it struck me that I started our company, Chestnut Investment Group in 1989, and according to my handy-dandy calculator, we are proudly celebrating our 25th anniversary!
Time flies as they say: I remember all too well and it seems like yesterday I was filling out the paperwork to start the company, and proudly sat in my first office with my new, gleaming name on the door and stacks of new business cards on my desk. My new computer was an IBM PS2 with a huge, 12" monitor for a cost of $2500. The storage was a 20 mg hard drive, hardly big enough in today's world to store the simplest of programs.
How excited I was: I had the world by the horns, and nothing stood in my way of unlimited success and reputation. Well, here it is 25 years later; success is measured differently by everyone, but the one thing I know... I'm still here. I had a vision, a plan and a little luck- and I'm here 25 years later to tell you about it.
I'm very proud of what I have accomplished, the thousands of people I have met and helped along the way, and am proud to say I've made it to our 25th anniversary. What were your plans 25 years ago?
I’ve often said that going from point A to point B is not a straight path: in between A and B, there are a thousand little points along the way: I call them life.
Things like marriages and divorce, houses and children, college funding and retirement funding are but a few of these points. It's nice to make the plans, but as they say, "Man plans and G-d laughs." Sometimes it's not so funny: a monkey wrench in the plans tends to throw the train off the tracks.
But as we know every time we see on the news a train that comes of the tracks, the MTA comes in, rights the situation regardless of the cause, and gets the train back on the track. It's a simile of sorts, but it makes perfect sense- if your train gets derailed, it's up to you to get it back on track and proceed on.
This is what financial and estate planning is all about- if you get caught by one of those points in between A and B, what do you do to get back on track? More importantly, do you lose your direction entirely, and abandon the trip, or the goal?
My point here is rarely do actions go according to plan, and often you have to take a detour. If you are in the car and you encounter a detour, you follow the signs, drive through unfamiliar territory until you get back on your path- and you continue on to your destination. More often than I would like to see, I hear from clients how they stopped their 401(k) contributions years ago because of some short term speed bump, and never started it up again.
Once the tax year is behind us, you can never go back and make the contribution for that year- it's gone. More importantly, so is the potential growth on the year's contribution. Now compound it out from the year of contribution missed to your year of retirement, and you could be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars because you "got lost in the detour."
Financially, it could be devastating. Speaking of retirement funds: if you get a 5% raise, did you raise your retirement contribution by the same 5%? You got that raise to combat inflation: it's important to do so for your future income as well.
I am sure we agree that we love our children, but they do put a crimp in our saving plans. I remember paying for my daughter's college many years ago: but I didn't stop putting away for retirement at the same time.
As long as all goes well and we keep our health, we all want to retire some day. If you don't prepare financially, you will work until the day you leave this earth, or it will kill you.
It's up to you- you control your own future. Retirement is our reward for all the help we were to society, raising and educating children, spreading our wisdom to those who can benefit, and all around having some time finally to ourselves. Where are you in your financial plan: it's not about the money- it's all about you. It's about the where, when, how and why.
It's about the things you want to see, the food you want to eat, and the people you want to spend time with. I find that people spend too much time focused on the money aspect, and forget the "it's about me" aspect. Go ahead... you can say it- it's about me.
So I invite you to sit back right now, close your eyes, and envision what the future will look like. It's there for the taking- all you have to do is reach.