On June 28, 2019, after 24 years of operating a family based child care center, my mom retired at 57 years old - Not because her daughter is a financial advisor, but due to a set of circumstances that caused her to change the trajectory of her retirement. Five years ago my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Just one month after her first grandchild was born and one week after the unexpected passing of her father. As you can imagine, this was a very emotional time for our family. I will never forget my mother in the hospital bed, Facetiming with my son and sobbing – “After 20 years of taking care of others’ children, I finally have a grandchild and I am stuck in this hospital.” This image will never leave me.
The profoundness of these words were also the impetus for change. The first major decision we made as a family was that Mom needed to retire ASAP. In order to do that, there were two things that were extremely important to my parents: 1) paying off the mortgage and 2) buying a condo in Ecuador where my sister, brother-in-law and niece live (aka their version of Florida). This problem I could help solve! So I took off my daughter hat and put on my financial advisor hat and we created a plan with a goal to help make all this possible. This meant some major, disruptive changes to what my parents envisioned for their retirement. My mom struggled with the idea of no longer being a teacher and caretaker – a large part of her identity. My Dad still won’t admit that he is retired and continues to work part time, boldly stating “I will never retire.” But they close on the condo next month and will spend January – March in Ecuador next year, so I think they will start to come around to the idea of being retired!
I share all this because it is my belief that a financial plan should be fluid. A guide rather than the Holy Grail. Give a financial advisor any set of assumptions, facts and figures and we can crunch numbers until all our heads spin. Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have crystal balls to prepare us for the bumps in the road or to determine the length of our time with our loved ones. So, we do the best with the current set of information and circumstances we have but should be open-minded depending on what the future holds.
This December we look forward to celebrating 5 years of remission for my mom and planning a trip for my dad’s 70th birthday in March. Lastly, in full disclosure, you should know that she turned 58 a short month after retiring.
There is no guarantee that a financial plan will achieve its investment objectives. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. You’re results may vary.