Financial planning can mean a lot of different things, and it can be as in depth or light as you want it to be. There are some people who budget every dollar and others who don’t worry about money until the sh*t hits the fan.
Two recent planning events made me sit up and want to share. First, the super in my building became ill. We found him in the basement passed out and completely incoherent. An ambulance came and took him to St. Luke’s–Roosevelt. Our super has a complicated family, and I’m not going to get into that, but we did not have an emergency contact for him. When I went to visit him and check on his status, the hospital said it didn’t have a telephone number of a family member to call and consult. Since I was not family, the hospital could not share any information with me. Our super was essentially in a coma, and no one could make a medical decision for him. That is a very scary thing. If you don’t have a healthcare proxy, someone to make decisions for you if you cannot, choose one and get it in writing as soon as possible.
The other event spurred a thought more than actual advice. I met a couple from Michigan shopping for a second home in New Hampshire. “Isn’t it cold enough in Michigan?” was my immediate response, but the answer is much simpler. New Hampshire does not have a state income tax, and Michigan does. This couple, who are two years away from retiring, were figuring out a way to have more money in retirement. Many times we think about saving more or being more aggressive in our investments, but the devil can lie in the details: reducing expenses can be easier than saving more.
I am not advocating that we all leave New York, Michigan, or California and head to New Hampshire, Wyoming, or Florida, but I’m offering food for thought when planning for retirement.