“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” – Benjamin Franklin

As we transition into a new year, many advisors and our clients will make emotionally envisioned New Year’s resolutions to do two things: lose weight and save more money.

For most, however, their new-found dietary and financial discipline will begin to drift off around the middle of January when they give up on these difficult tasks. When reality settles in it becomes easier to subconsciously admit defeat and settle back into old, comfortable routines. You see, the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are usually made quite arbitrarily. When made without much analysis or vision, they include lofty and unrealistic short-term goals leading to despair.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of parallels between New Year?? 1/2 s resolutions and the way many seniors, especially baby boomers, are approaching retirement planning. And while December, with all of its associated holiday parties and feasts, may be the worst time to get started on dietary resolutions, it is the perfect time for us to help our clients establish better financial resolutions.

Many seniors have postponed planning, let alone actually saving for retirement. Surprisingly, many believe that we have no-risk fixes that will help them quickly make up for years of lost time. We know that is a dream that is unlikely to come true. Our job is to help our clients face facts, because their imaginary math doesn’t work in real life. Together -advisor and client- we need to weave financial psychology and the math of what our products do into their current financial situation. Finally, we need to provide them with realistic advice to motivate clients to live within their financial means today while saving at a rate consistent with their age.

On the surface, the holidays may seem an inopportune time for such an out-of-season conversation. After all, we all want to splurge a little on our loved ones this time of year. Paradoxically it’s the perfect time for a financial wakeup call. By helping our clients employ reality-based financial decisions during and after the holiday season, we can route them on to a path toward sustainable financial discipline and dignity.

Other seniors are also heading toward retirement age without a clear vision for the lifestyle they really want to maintain during their golden years. Without putting much analysis or thought into it, they will arbitrarily determine in their minds that retirement will mean “the usual”- golfing or fishing or gardening or traveling. Is it any wonder the clients in this group are not motivated to talk with us about a reality-based retirement plan?

The joy most people feel during the holiday season presents financial advisors with the perfect scenario to inspire our clients to really think about what will make them truly happy for the 20 to 30 years they will likely spend in retirement. Once they have a vision for their own unique retirement dream, it is much easier for them to maintain their commitment to accumulating and protecting the financial resources they need to achieve it.

This holiday season, let’s all resolve to help our senior clients make financial resolutions that will stick.

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