Emma is a 56-year-old woman who just recently went through a divorce. After having combined checking accounts and a husband who took care of all of their finances, she feels like she has to learn for the first time how to manage her own finances. She acquired the house in the divorce, and also would like to buy a new car, which she has never done on her own. She would like help getting on her own two feet and help getting a solid financial plan put into place for her as she gets ready to retire. She has a lot of questions relating to “what now” as she looks at her life: should she sell her house? What level of lifestyle is appropriate for her now and what can she comfortably afford? Is she on track to retire with just her assets? Where does she start in purchasing a new vehicle? In general, Emma feels frustrated and exhausted from the divorce process and would like someone to help shoulder the burden of making these decisions in a financially sound manner.
At Ritter Daniher we understand these situations and treat clients as people, not just a number. We will patiently help clients in these situations prioritize the decisions that need to be made, and also help them look at the big picture and come up with all possible solutions. Emma thought she had to sell her house, but actually didn’t. We walked her through the car-purchasing process, and even helped negotiate a price for her. We also advised her on what credit cards to obtain, how to divide her financial assets and put a solid retirement plan into place. Last but not least, we worked with all of her other professional advisors – such as her insurance agent and her accountant – to ensure all areas of her finances were congruent with each other. These types of situations might be new to you, but we have a lot of familiarity in this area and can help walk you through these major life changes.
Margaret is 41 years old and her husband, George, has terminal cancer. They were both shocked when they learned of the cancer, and even more shocked when the doctors gave him an estimated 6 months to live. They both felt they needed to get help with the estate planning process and to ensure their finances were in good condition to better prepare for this devastating, life-changing occurrence. After visiting one financial planner, whose first question to her was “Tell me what you want your retirement to look like,” she just about gave up on seeking help. She had no idea what she wanted her retirement to look like: What she had thought before would have included her husband. All her hopes and dreams were just completely turned upside down, and she needed someone to respectfully and patiently help her put her life back together to prepare for what was to come, and then what would come later.
Then one of her friends recommended Ritter Daniher to Margaret, and she decided to give us a call. The first meeting was scheduled for an hour and lasted about 30 minutes; it wasn’t a good day emotionally for either of them. We told them when they felt ready, to call us again. In a week they scheduled another one-hour meeting, and we met with them for three hours. We like to be flexible and adaptable in these sensitive situations and want to work with the clients at their pace. We helped them with questions such as how to file an estate tax return and the funeral planning process, as well as what estate documents they needed and how to get them. First and foremost, though, we did an analysis of where they were mentally, and wanted to make sure we handled the issues in a way they felt comfortable with and that they understood the course of action, as many people often aren’t familiar with the estate planning process. We also helped them weed out and separate issues that needed immediate attention from ones that didn’t; overall, our goal was to help them avoid making any major mistakes and to help them understand that most decisions don’t have to be made rapidly. In these situations, it isn’t about the money – it’s about their lives. We see the forest through the trees, and can shine light in the dark areas to dismiss some of the things clients might think are obstacles. Only then can clients go from just existing and getting by to proactively taking a hold of their lives again.
Joe and Diane are 56 and 58, respectively, and are thinking about retiring in the next 5 years or so. Diane, however, would like to retire sooner if they can afford it, but they aren’t sure if they can. Overall, they are uncertain as to whether they are on track to retire in 5 years, and feel they don’t have the time to spend to find these answers. That’s when they called us.
Our preference is to always plan several years ahead of retirement age, so they called us at exactly the right time. Planning ahead enables us to give them perspective on things they may want to consider with the process – both financial and non-financial. For example, Joe has been a busy accountant his whole life with a Type A personality; what will he do in three months when he doesn’t have an office anymore? How will he continue to keep his mind engaged and what will he do to fill the success drive that he has? We helped him think through these questions. Diane has a job that she “tolerates,” and would like to retire sooner. She has always wanted to work with reading education for mentally challenged children, and we helped them put a plan together so she would be able to do that in two years instead of five. Our goal often is to help clients transition from financial success to personal significance, not just pick a date for retirement and a number at which they could comfortably retire. Joe feels more comfortable knowing that he is on track to retire in 10 years and doesn’t have to worry about these plaguing questions. And Diane is happy she is able to retire sooner than she thought; she said work is more bearable now that she knows she can retire in five years, doing what she loves.
Brent, 34, always knew that he would acquire “some money” when his grandmother passed away, but that was about the extent of what he knew. After she passed away, he found out that “some money” equated to more than $800,000. Suddenly, his life changed overnight and he really had no idea what the “responsible” thing would be to do with his newly acquired assets. He took enough finance classes in college to know that if he started investing most of that money now instead of spending it, he could significantly change the scope and quality of his retirement. He decided to google “financial planners” and found Ritter Daniher.
The first thing we worked on with Brent was how to handle all of his new “best friends” and seemingly well-intended, long-lost relatives who had heard about his inheritance. We are accustomed to and have expertise in how to respectfully handle such situations. Brent also had a few ideas for how he wanted to spend the money, and we helped him determine which ideas were the most financially sound. Brent didn’t want to get bogged down in the details of how to invest the money; he mostly wanted us to handle it for him and tell him the final decisions. Overall, we made sure we were looking out for Brent’s financial assets and worried about the things that he didn’t realize he needed to worry about. Now Brent is on track to start investing for his future.
Jake and Sarah are in their early 30's. They bought a house, have two small children and have accumulated a little under $250,000 in IRA assets from previous 401(k) plans. However, they have very little knowledge of how to make their money work for them. Jake and Sarah are both active in their current employer sponsored retirement plans and are saving as much as they possibly can. They want to make sure they are handling their financial affairs properly, including starting to save for college education and protecting their new family through proper insurance coverages and estate planning. And they want to start a relationship with an advisor so that they make good decisions as their situation changes over time.
RDFA offers NextGen Accumulator services that are perfect for young people, like Jake and Sarah. This type of service includes the full scope of financial planning services in a systemitzed, actionable format. One of our financial advisors will work to make sure that they are taking advantage of the opportunities that they have now, and modifying their plan as their life circumstances change. The best way to insure future financial success is to make good early decisions and build proper financial habits.