When Your Plan Doesn’t Go as Planned

By Marc C. Shaffer

Life does not go as planned. It’s a wonder I survive as a financial planner who lives by a calendar and a process, because this statement rings true for everyone, even me. I have seen it in both my personal life and in the lives of the people we help every day. It’s probably the biggest reason I get asked, “So, what happens if…?”

You could have a plan for retirement that includes contributing to your employer-sponsored 401(k) account, only to decide to start your own business. You and your spouse may plan to have one child, only to find out twins are on the way, or you may plan to have several children, only to find out the costly process of IVF is your only option for natural childbearing. You could plan to use a vehicle you purchased for several years before passing it down to your teen only for it to be totaled the very next day. You could create a financial plan that sounds good on paper but does not fit with your lifestyle or financial behaviors.

Your plans might be short-term or long-term and the bumps that derail them could be big or small, but the impact could be significant.

Let’s talk a look what DOES happen when things don’t go according to plan.

First, we know that having NO plan can be the start of a messy journey. Even if we go off course, having a plan in place to look back and see where we said we want to be or should be, can be a relief when things get crazy. Taking time to consider your goals, hopes, milestones and strategy could help center you in times that might feel overwhelming.

When developing a plan, two pieces that should be incorporated are monitoring the plan and making strategic updates. This helps us realize from the beginning that plans are not constant entities and relieves the pressure of having to know everything up front.

If a financial plan is derailed, look at what is in place to help manage the unexpected. Have you created an emergency fund to cover unexpected costs? Have you pre-saved for expenses that are inevitable even if the timing isn’t known? Do you have an estate plan in place to carry out the wishes after the loss of a spouse? Do you have insurance coverage for fires, floods and more? If you have already planned for the unexpected, these strategies could help you navigate the process more smoothly.

If you do not yet have tactics prepared, you would want to take a look at your big picture to see what steps/pieces of your plan could be moved or shifted to cover the current situation without derailing other goals. For example, using funds from a retirement account to help an adult child that lost their job might impact your future, but using funds from a vacation savings account might be a decision that feels right for you.

After you have overcome or incorporated the issue into your new plan, you’ll want to review what went right and what went wrong. This can give you an idea of things you can start doing NOW to help avoid or lessen the impact of other unexpected issues down the road.

If you would like a team to help you develop a plan, look for potential roadblocks or start preparing now for unexpected life moments, we would be happy to help.

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on October 26, 2022 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.