Futurecasting your life
by Arnold Machel
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29: 11 (NIV)
The new year is here and many of us have already broken most of the resolutions we’ve made. This month, I want to encourage you to take a good hard look into your future and re-think some of those resolutions and goals in the context of what’s coming down the pike for you.
This exercise is valuable from a financial perspective, but because it gives a sense of what your life may look like in the decades to come, it is useful in a more general sense as well.
I can tell you from a personal perspective that doing this exercise many years ago made me wake up and realize that my kids were only a few years from attending post secondary.
That realization, along with a strong desire to assist them in attending some sort of post secondary schooling, prompted me to aggressively increase the allocation of our savings into a Registered Education Savings Fund. It was surprising to me just how good it felt to have the money socked away as we talked to them about their options for university and college. My hope is that this exercise will open your eyes to something similar and provide the impetus to act.
You don’t need any special tools. I’ll give you the instruction here and you can easily do it on a blank piece of paper totally on your own. But if you would like, please feel free to contact my office and ask us to email you our ‘futurecasting tool’. We’ll email you two documents that you are welcome to use with absolutely no obligation or expectation: a templated excel sheet that you can use, if you are able, and a pdf that you can print out and use as a backup, if you can’t use the spreadsheet.
Ready to go? Grab a piece of paper, turn it sideways (to landscape mode) and follow the instructions below:
On the left-hand side of the page, jot down names of people in your life that are very important to you. People like your spouse, children, parents and business partners. Leave an inch or so between them and put their age in brackets beside them.
On the top of the page, jot down the current year (2020). An inch or two to the right jot down 5 years from now (2025), then 5 more years (2030). Keep going until you run out of space. For most people, 8 columns will be more than adequate.
If you want, you can draw lines to create a grid, but that’s up to you.
Now list the future ages of yourself and the important people around you under the appropriate column at the year indicated. You should have a chart that looks something like the one to the right.
Now, for each person, circle ages that may have an impact on you. Some possibilities are:
Parents may need your financial support as they age (say around 75);
Or you may suspect that an inheritance is likely (around their age 90);
Children may need education funding around the ages of 19 to 25.
Are you planning to help your children with a wedding? When might that be?
When may a business partner need to be bought out?
When will you and your spouse retire?
Give some thought to each of the individual’s life stages (including your own) and circle the time lines that may trigger goals, priorities, conflicts or opportunities.
Jot down what those goals, priorities, conflicts and opportunities are. Should you factor those things in? Some examples:
Start saving now for that expected wedding in 10 years.
Get more serious about retirement savings.
Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you need to stop stressing about savings. You think it’s likely you’ll receive an inheritance in the next 10 years and that should cover the weddings, the kid’s/grandkid’s education or even your retirement.
The above are just a few examples of what may come out of it. And of course, they are financial examples – I am a financial guy, after all. You may uncover completely different issues – financial and non-financial.
A non-financial opportunity you may want to consider prior to the final third or your life is: What kind of retirement is God calling you to? How far away is that? And should you be preparing for that in some way now?
Of course, only God knows exactly what is in store for us in the future but that doesn’t absolve us from preparing for what we can and should reasonably expect. Now grab your pencil (or your mouse) and let’s go.
Arnold Machel, CFP® lives, works and worships in the White Rock/South Surrey area where he attends Gracepoint Community Church. He is a Certified Financial Planner with IPC Investment Corporation and Visionvest Financial Planning & Services. Questions and comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.visionvest.ca. Please note that all comments are of a general nature and should not be relied upon as individual advice. The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Arnold Machel and may not necessarily reflect those of IPC Investment Corporation. While every attempt is made to ensure accuracy, facts and figures are not guaranteed.
Arnold is now accepting a limited number of invitations to speak for the 2020 calendar year. If you are interested in having him speak to your congregation or other group regarding tithing and money matters, please contact us at email@example.com or (604) 542-2818 with your preferred date and time.