Hi folks. Dave Piatkowski here with Dickinson Investments. In this time of August where typically families are toing and froing from all their various family vacations and kids’ activities, me being me, I found two big things during our family vacation that are very financial planning-oriented. As I talked about this on our long car drive, my wife said to me only I could find financial planning lessons in a family vacation. But two of them specifically for us popped out to me, and I just wanted to share those with you.
We recently went on a family vacation from Nebraska to Ohio for my wife’s family reunion, and then we added on a little side trip there to an amusement park and resort. During that timeframe, we drove the 14-hour trip here from Nebraska to the Canton area of Ohio, and my wife’s sister left several hours before us. She got to where there was a significant amount of traffic and construction between the Chicago and the South Bend area on the turnpike there and got so frustrated that she texted or called my wife and said she was getting off the turnpike there and would find an alternate route on their map to go to the Canton area.
We went through the same traffice several hours later, and I told my wife, “Marjorie, we’re going to stay the course.” Little did any of us know that that was the last of any of the significant construction for that timeframe. So we just stayed on the nice six-lane turnpike that was clean as a whistle the rest of the way, and we ended up getting to the hotel and the family reunion area in Ohio about the same time as my wife’s sister who had left several hours before us.They were shocked!
The moral of that story is this: if you don’t know what’s ahead of you, you need to just stay the course. That correlation has also worked well with a lot of the clients I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, specifically those in the fall of 2008 when everything went to heck in a hand basket. Those that stayed the course, everything turned out fine for them, and those that made big changes to their investments and financial plans, sometimes it didn’t work out so well.
So driving on vacation is in that way correlated to your financial plan. It’s very, very important to stay the course and not get frustrated and make a big change midstream so to speak.
The second thing I found on our family vacation came after the family reunion portion when we went to Cedar Point Resort and Amusement Park (which is on the peninsula out there in Sandusky, Ohio near Lake Erie). It’s a pretty large place and my son’s Fitbit told us that we walked some 12 to 14 miles depending on the accuracy of that Fitbit. What I found is, the first day my wife and I just wanted to let the kids just kind of have carte blanche and go where they wanted to, how they wanted to, and we would kind of follow along and make sure that they got to their destinations.
But as I was watching this, they were doing it as inefficiently as you could possibly do something. In their zeal and excitement like many teenagers do, they were just saying, “I want to go to the X ride or the Y ride or this nice roller coaster,” whatever it might have been. But they were then passing some things they wanted to go to later in the day or the next day.
So when we got to the hotel room that night, we felt like we had walked 20 miles. I said, “Hey, there are maps at all the entrances and other places. Let’s get a map and/or download the app that has the map on it so we can kind of make a plan as to where we want to go and how we want to get around.” The kids took out the map and they listed the places they wanted to go and the attractions and sights they wanted to see on day two.
By lunch time on that day, they had knocked out everything because we planned out what was the most efficient way to get there. Maybe there was a shortcut or maybe this attraction was next to that attraction. So we would go to those two together. The point is that on day two, it was much more relaxing. The plan worked and the kids even saw the reason and the rationale for doing some planning.
So, planning can make a huge difference – it’s similar to correlating to many people’s financial plans. Many times when they first come in to visit with us, the people I have been fortunate enough to visit with over all these years, sometimes they will come in with a menagerie of statements and investment accounts and things they’ve sometimes forgotten about and things that don’t work in unison together. When we plan, we put these things together.
Instead of having overlapping investments and no real plan for when to take investments or to purchase or sell certain investments, you’re not going to have such a great retirement or potentially won’t even be able to retire at all. But if you put in at least a basic plan, it doesn’t even have to be a detailed plan, that can make all the difference in the world.
So here’s what I’m saying from my family vacation: (1) stay the course even if the going gets tough, and (2) make a plan. Thanks a lot.
[Financial Planning and Investment Management Services offered through Dickinson Investment Advisors, Registered Investment Advisor. Statistics and market information provided by Litman Gregory Advisor Intelligence.]