• Nate Baim, MBA, CFP®

Sacrificing Your Values and Goals Is The Real Risk


Enjoy this week's edition of the Planner's Beta


Beta (n) - climber's jargon that designates information about a climb This digest's purpose is to share observations, ideas, and treasures found this week which you may also find insightful. Sharing does not mean it's an endorsement. I am endorsing the pursuit of knowledge and exploration.



Becky and I went out to the Coastal Range to visit University Falls this past weekend. On our way back from the waterfall, the sky provided a spectacular sunset. I snapped this image just north of Hillsboro among the farm fields.



Something from Nate


"People start being interested in something because it's going up, not because they understand it or anything else. But the guy next door, who they know is dumber than they are, is getting rich, and they aren't," he said. "And their spouse is saying can't you figure it out, too? It is so contagious. So that's a permanent part of the system." - Warren Buffett on what causes asset bubbles.


The past year challenged assumptions on how markets should trade during a global pandemic. Many equity markets are valued higher than before the crisis. And surprisingly, housing prices are continuing to rise. This environment has many folks questioning, "Are we in a bubble?" It also has individuals wondering if they, too, can reap the benefits of rising asset prices. Those who are wishing to cash in on market appreciation are fearful of missing out.


However, as we observe others' financial situations, we always need to remember returns come with risk. So, if you find yourself trying to catch rising prices of whatever asset you may be contemplating to buy, be sure to keep in mind how much risk you will be taking if you purchase that asset. 


But what is risk? Risk is many things. Investors most often think of risk as to the decline in the value of an asset. Or as the magnitude of ups and downs, an asset's value may experience (volatility). But, risk can be more than dollars and cents. 


I've worked with several clients who are looking to buy a home. And because prices have continued to increase in many markets, I expect more and more conversations in the future concerning home purchases. One of the questions I ask clients is, "How will purchasing this house help you live your best life?" A large asset purchase, such as a home, can drastically alter their budget. And more often than not, to cover the home's monthly financial obligation, money from a different goal would need to be repurposed toward the house. Folks contemplate reducing retirement funds, education for their children, or even the yearly family travel budget. And, in my mind, this is the real risk we need to worry about. The real danger is living life and making decisions that do not align with your values and meaningful goals. In other words, the real risk is making decisions that significantly decrease the likelihood of reaching your most important goals. 


The behavior described by Warren Buffet can sacrifice your confidence in more valuable and worthwhile outcomes. 


I can't iterate this enough; having a financial plan helps you identify risks and if you can afford (or even want) to take those risks. More broadly, a financial plan enables you to map out the paths you can take to live your life's pursuits.

How To Say No, For The People Pleaser Who Always Says Yes (NPR) - It can be hard to say "No" to people. I have a hard time saying "No." And a point made in this article resonated. Having worked some time in a corporate setting, I saw many ambitious managers have a hard time saying no to subordinates and supervisors because they wanted things to be perfect. They would take on work or projects because they wanted it within their sphere of control. They wanted the outcomes to be ideal. Many of us feel stretched from the new work-life situation we find ourselves in due to COVID. From what I've observed, some folks are taking on more and more responsibilities because of the lack of control they may feel. It is important to remember you can say, "No."

Monthly Financial Planning Item

The end of the year provides many planning opportunities and issues. Year-end items to review include tax planning, investment and retirement accounts, charitable giving, cash flow and savings, insurance, and estate planning. This checklist (link in image below) covers several planning issues that you should consider before the end of the year, including:

  • Review issues concerning investment and retirement accounts, including matching capital gains against any investment losses in taxable investment accounts.

  • Review tax planning issues regarding strategies dependent upon your potential for higher or lower income in the future. You will also want to review where you sit relative to your tax bracket, as this is an excellent time to make moves to "fill up" tax buckets for the current year.

  • Several strategies will also help reduce tax liability that can be considered based upon their situation for those who are charitably inclined.

  • For those who own a business, tax reform created some opportunities surrounding pass-through income. Accelerating or deferring business expenses presents another planning opportunity for some business owners.

  • It's wise to review your cash flow situation as the year comes to a close to see if you can fund a 529 plan for children, know if you can save more in your retirement plan like a 401(k), or place earmarked money aside for other goals. It's also good to review retirement accounts to see if you have contributed too much for this current year.

This comprehensive checklist covers the types of year-end planning issues we likely have already discussed in our meetings. However, take the time to consider the items on this list to uncover any items we may have missed. Having a systematic process helps you better identify planning elements that could benefit you this year and beyond. If needed, feel free to place time on my calendar.




Quote of the Week

"Power without a nation's confidence is nothing." - Catherine the Great

 

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