Financial planning perspective on life milestones | Money Matters

By Robert Toomey

My daughter recently graduated from a master’s program at a university in Texas. My wife and I attended the ceremony and made a car trip out of it, visiting the Grand Canyon and other national parks along the way.

Her graduation was a great milestone for both her and us. The trip got me reflecting on planning, how my daughter planned for it, and the importance of planning in successfully achieving milestones in life.

For a person graduating from any program of learning, there must be planning on both the student’s part and, in many cases, the parents’ or guardian’s part. Many planning questions and assumptions go into making the decision to embark on an intense study program. On the part of the student, of course, questions are focused on desirability of a career, personal strengths, which school may have the optimal program, or what resources and course of study are best to achieve the desired outcome.

On the parent or guardian’s part, some key questions might be: What counsel can I give my child in choosing this path? How might we best harbor financial and non-financial resources to support the person in this endeavor?

Is there a tie-in to financial planning in this type of planning? I would say very much so.

In financial planning, we take all we know about a person’s or family’s finances and financial resources and help them develop the best roadmap for achieving their financial goals. As planners, we very often run an education analysis for our clients with young children. Advance preparation in estimating the cost of future education for a child and establishing a savings program to fund those expenses is not only a critical part of a younger family’s financial goals, but also goes a long way in reducing the stresses and concerns of funding future education expenses.

Successfully achieving major milestones in life takes planning. Take retirement for example. Isn’t being prepared the best and least stressful way to arrive at this milestone? There is no better way in my mind to be prepared for any major life objective than to plan well for it.

From a planning perspective, I would view these “milestones” as goals which, in many cases, need financial resources to accomplish. A comprehensive financial plan takes into consideration a multitude of elements that are necessary in achieving many major life milestones and, most importantly, provides the client with important insights into the best ways to accomplish the goal or multiple goals.

Whether it be for education, retirement, estate planning, or other life goals, usually there is a financial component involved which can be analyzed and understood in a way that not only enhances the probability of success, but also reduces risk and stress in achieving the desired outcome.

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.