Written by Nick Gertsema
My two-year-old daughter loves our family photo books. Some nights she’ll grab one off the shelf, climb into my lap, and we go through the pictures together. Her favorite thing to do is identify her family members in the pictures. It doesn’t matter to her whether she’s in the pictures or not. I love the quality time with my little girl, but also enjoy reminiscing about past vacations and seeing the happiness on my kids’ faces.
My wife and I make it a priority to take one family vacation per year. It doesn’t have to be somewhere fancy or exotic. Our main goal is that we are able to go somewhere and spend time as a family. We typically rent a house or a cabin for a week, plan a day trip or two to local sight-seeing locations, attend Mass at a local Parish, and try to create as many memories as we can with our children.
The Moments We Remember
Once we get back home, we upload the pictures to a photo book website and make a picture book to put on the shelf next to our other vacation books. When you look back at the pictures, you tend to remember the good times and the rough points tend to fade away.
When I see our pictures from Colorado, I remember our hike to Rainbow Gulch and the amazing lake at the end. I don’t think about how we may have misestimated the length of the hike and how rough the last mile was, especially for my pregnant wife who had never been in the mountains. When I see the pictures of the kids wading in Lake Michigan on a small hidden beach in Wisconsin, I don’t think about their wet clothes for the drive back to the cabin. In the moment, you don’t realize how great the memories you’re making are going to be.
Sometimes you get so busy with life or planning for the future that you forget to live in the present. My wife and I fully realize that our kids will be grown before we know it. This time we are able to have with them won’t last forever. The vacations are not always a week of bliss, but when we talk to the kids about the time we went to Minnesota, they remember it fondly. The fish they tell stories of catching become larger and more numerous every year!
Just hearing about how they remember those family trips make them all worthwhile. That’s why, every year, my wife and I make sure that a family vacation gets put on the calendar. We don’t know how long we will all be able to get the family together for a get-away, so it is important that we seize the opportunity every year.
Making Plans Can Give You Freedom
I think of these vacations often when I’m working on putting together financial plans for our clients. People spend their careers working and, hopefully, saving for retirement. The careers they choose and the sacrifices they make are usually to work toward the long-term goal of being able to enjoy retirement.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see someone who has been so focused on building their nest egg that they are afraid to use any of it to live out their retirement plans when the time comes. The fear of losing their retirement savings can paralyze some people to the point they can’t enjoy retirement.
This is where my job becomes truly enjoyable. By building a retirement plan, I can help our clients to understand how their savings can work for them so they can have the retirement they want. When a client is concerned about running out of money, I am able to run a stress test on their portfolio that will show how their portfolio should behave in different market conditions. More importantly, we can discuss changes to the retirement plan based on what we learn to make sure that we are not taking too much risk.
While there is inherent risk in the market, there is also a risk in missing out on the retirement you planned for. The first step is building your retirement plan. Once you have a plan, you will have confidence knowing whether or not you are on track. Using stress-testing to help identify and manage downside risk will give you the confidence you’re not taking unnecessary risk with your investments.
Once these bases are covered, you can go out, enjoy retirement, and make memories with those you love the most. You’ve worked hard to earn your money, it’s time to make your money work just as hard for you.