We live in a time of great personal freedom when we have the opportunity to choose our own life goals and paths.
While it’s true that very few 26-year-olds are likely to be retiring, you might be that lucky one who just sold an app to Facebook and is considering philanthropy. While most people start families in their 20s or 30s, you might be that 40-year-old who’s just about to adopt a first child. And while most 60-year-olds have hopefully accumulated some retirement savings, you might be that entrepreneurial baby boomer who is moving to Detroit to launch a startup or open a coffee bar.
In spite of this brave, and exciting, new world of personal choices, what’s the first question a financial advisor or online financial site generally asks you? Chances are it’s your age. Then that answer determines the next question, and the next.
Too many financial planners and investment sites, unfortunately, use age to make assumptions that then dictate investment recommendations.
The internet, too, is filled with articles like “Financial Planning Tips Every 30-year-old should know” and “The best financial goals for every age.” There are books and studies that break your life down into age-based phases like “early career phase” and “peak accumulation phase” then make generalization based on those neat buckets.
What’s more important than age?
We’re all individuals, with different dreams, goals, and life situations and when it comes to financial planning, age is not as important as it used to be.
Your goals and your risk tolerance should be the factors to consider first in devising a personalized financial plan or investment plan that works for you.
Is your primary goal buying a house, is it wealth creation for early retirement, is it having income so you can bike around the world for a year? Those answers are more important than the fact that you are 32.
Does a volatile stock market make you anxious? Do you prefer slow and steady to winner takes all? While it’s generally assumed that young people can afford greater risk and volatility because they have time on their side, you may be that 24-year old that wants or needs to preserve savings first and foremost.
Goals differ and investment always involves a certain amount of risk. That’s why a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor works with each client individually to manage goals and risk in a way that works for them. It is vital for success to determine the level of risk each client can afford to take, how much risk is necessary to help them achieve their personal goals, and how much risk and volatility they can comfortably live with emotionally.
You Are Unique
Each of us is unique and that means that no two people will have the exact same goals + risk profile, in spite of being the same age. Yes, living off retirement savings is different than living off a first salary, but the amount may be the same. And paying off student loans is really not all that different from paying off a mortgage.
What’s important is that you find a good fee-only fiduciary financial advisor who looks beyond pre-programmed, one-size-fits all recommendations for 20-30 year-olds or 60+ year-olds and focuses to your goals, your risk preferences, and your uniqueness to create a personalized plan that works for you and evolves as you evolve, not one designed for an entire generation.
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