By FirstWave Financial®
This is the six-million-dollar question of wealth management. Isn’t it?
Another way this question presents itself is: “How much money do I need in order to pay for the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed for the rest of my life and never have to work again unless I want to?”.
The answer to this question obviously varies by individual but is driven by the answers to these three questions: How much does your desired lifestyle cost per year? What return is to be expected on your investments? How much future certainty do you need?
How much does your desired lifestyle cost per year?
When answering this question, a good place to start is to determine what you are spending now. It is natural to want to begin at zero and fill up the expense categories of your lifestyle (housing, food, clothes, entertainment, travel, etc.) with what you estimate you are spending. We have found this method usually understates your cost of living. This is because you can quickly leave out those unusual items (such as a new air conditioner, repainting your house, or a new car purchase) that do not specifically repeat every year, but something like them does. A more accurate way to capture your lifestyle costs is to start with your income, subtract what you paid in income and payroll taxes, and subtract what you saved. The rest is what you are spending. Do this for a couple of the most recent years. If you keep getting around the same number, this is probably what your lifestyle costs. This can be further refined, but knowing the correct number with which to start is essential.
What return is to be expected on your investments?
How aggressively or conservatively you choose to invest will affect your future expected returns.
Higher returns are to be expected with a more aggressive investment plan, with a higher percentage in equity investments, compared to a more conservative investment plan with a lower percentage in equity investments. But with those higher expected returns comes more risk of losses and volatility, to which you may not want to continue to expose yourself at this stage of your financial life. Generally speaking, it takes more money invested conservatively to fund a given lifestyle than it does if the money is invested more aggressively. But if invested too aggressively, it could expose you to a loss that might affect your ability to experience the future you have in mind. This leads us to the next question.
How much future certainly do you need?
The FutureWealth Projection included in the WealthPlans we prepare contemplates current and future lifestyle costs and expected future investment returns. We forecast how long your money is expected to last and/or how much is expected to still be there at the end of your life. But we are speaking of the future, where uncertainty abounds. There is a multitude of possible results for your future wealth. If there are future periods of high investment returns and low inflation, the results are much greater than if there are periods of low returns and high inflation, and there is an entire range of possible results between these examples. How much certainty do you need that you will not run out of money before age 95? If your answer is 100%, then you will need more money than someone who is willing to accept; there could be some chance that their money may not last that long.
Your WealthPlan, as part of The WealthCare Solution, is the tool you need to answer the question “Do I have enough” and more. It can help you determine how much you need so you have a clear target for what you are trying to achieve. It can help you decide how aggressively or conservatively to invest, balancing your attitude toward risk with what your plan may require. By constantly monitoring and periodically updating your plan, you can respond intentionally to the uncertainties of life as they occur.
To find out how we can help you transform the complexity and confusion surrounding this important topic into your improved WealthConfidence, call us today at (321)773-7773 to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our WealthCoaches™. For more information about FirstWave Financial, check out our website at www.firstwavefinancial.com