By Mark Bordelove
I recently met with my friend and client Beth for her annual financial review. It's always great to sit down with her and catch up. We've been friends for over 20 years. She has seen me get married and have a family. She is single, 46 and financially successful. She is a disciplined, hard worker who developed good habits early on and it has paid off. We have had a deep conversation about her thoughts on investing as a single person going from her 20s into her mid-40s and how her perspective on saving and has changed over the years.
Beth comes from a home with two responsible parents that were both in their careers with the same company for more than 30 years. Her parents instilled in her good savings habits along with a drive to work hard and be independent.
In her 20s, though like most people new to the workforce and making money for the first time, she was putting money into the 401(k) and enjoying life. It was all about trips to warm locales and enjoying the weekends. Also, working hard to establish her career was a big priority. There would always be time to make big life decisions like buying her first home. At that point there really was not much more to think about regarding savings and investing.
In her early 30s she decided to make the investment and buy a home. The common thought at that time was home ownership was a vehicle to utilize for potential retirement savings. We eventually learned the fallacy of this thinking during the credit crisis of 2008-2009. We learned from the housing crisis that home ownership cannot be the only path to a confident retirement. Although being a homeowner was exciting, in this decade she mentioned that she started to realize that all financial decisions, good or bad, were -- "all on me." In other words, she would need to be responsible for herself and not rely on anybody to help her to become financially independent.
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Now in her 40s, she sees the benefit of maximizing her 401(k) for all these years. In addition to her 401(k) she has funded a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA when she was able, and she has dollar-cost-averaged into mutual funds in a brokerage account. Sometimes it's been painful to buy, but historically these have presented great opportunities.
As Warren Buffet famously has said, "buy when there's blood in the streets." She has been happy with the performance over time. Here 401(k) with her contributions along with her generous company match has compounded greatly over 25 years.
Also, estate planning has recently come up. The issue there is if something were to happen to her, she doesn't want her parents to have to go to probate to deal with getting her assets. The next time we meet, one big topic for consideration potentially is long-term care insurance.
Even though she is financially successful, the nature of her business is very volatile. She is in a commission business. It can swing wildly. There can be great times and very lean times. Lesson No. 1 regarding savings: consistency. Be steady and consistent with savings. Over time it pays. Money is a concern every day because, as she mentioned, all her financial decisions are on her.
We had a conversation that if she were to meet someone now that she may want to seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. What's interesting is that prenuptial agreements do not seem to be only for the wealthy any longer. Career oriented people are considering them more now than ever. She has worked for 25 years to accumulate a sizable 401(k). Her feelings come from years of the whole financial burden being on her. She is fiercely protective of her assets and the blood, sweat and tears that came with building them. I told her to consult an attorney to discuss her options if this scenario presents itself.
I reassured her she has done a fantastic job of simply implementing good habits and sticking to a simple plan: build your 401(k), and watch and be aware of your expenses. I tell clients all the time, "I don't have to be at the top of your list, I just want to be on the list." Through market gyrations over the past 20 years I have always been there to answer questions and provide a sense of calm to weather the market volatility for her.
Beth has followed this simple advice and there are financial benefits to this strategy.
About the author: Mark Bordelove is president, CEO and co-founder of Bordelove Foster Wealth Management. The options voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Mark Bordelove's securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment adviser, Member FINRA/SIPC. Mark Bordelove and LPL Financial are not affiliated with Jim Cramer or TheStreet. This material was prepared by Mark Bordelove. Bordelove Foster Wealth Management and LPL Financial do not offer tax or legal services.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Historical performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing in mutual funds involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment adviser. Member FINRA/SIPC.