By Chris Hanson
One of the first questions I ask my client is, “What are your financial goals?” The importance of this question is paramount, because all planning decisions are dependent on those goals. It is my job to help you conquer your bucket list. So it’s kind of ironic that many clients are a little bashful about sharing all their goals. The Wicked Smart Investor is here to tell you let things fly; it’s your money and your life after all.
During the pandemic, I revised my bucket list. A couple of years ago, I moved into my sister Margaret’s in-law apartment. She has a non-verbal, autistic son Erik, and with school canceled, there was no one to watch Erik during the day. She’s a nurse and her husband builds homes, so working at home was not an option for either of them. Erik aged out of the Hanover school system and had no placement in an adult program. We have always juggled our schedules to care for Erik, bit I decided to make this living arrangement permanent, so that has me adjusting my life plan.
You see, for a while, I was planning on buying a two-bedroom cape in Marshfield or Plymouth. I like living near the ocean in towns that have year-round activity. The more I thought about it though, I remember that maintaining a suburban home would be another job. I’d spend my weekend raking leaves, washing windows and scrubbing bathrooms. Then after that, maybe I’d clean gutters, mow the lawn, and wash the floors. Between my business, maintaining a house, and helping with Erik I would not have any free time. Although Erik now is in a day program things are still busy. If I want my own life, I simply have to make adjustments to my plan.
For one change, I decided to indulge my love of stodgy old Boston and buy a small condo in Beacon Hill, and I’ll live there on the weekends. The fancy-schmancy name for such properties are pied-à-terre, meaning a small property for occasional use. When I share this idea with some friends, some well-meaning people become critical of my goals.
Let’s explore my logic. In Hanover I have a swimming pool, stone walls, and fall foliage. Rexhame beach is a short drive away and I can enjoy wooded walking paths all over town. But I really like city life. I dream of waking up Saturday morning and possibly strolling in the Public Garden, writing in the Athenaeum, or kayaking on the Charles. Then, after that maybe I’ll attend a Bruins game, see the latest movie at Loews Common, and hit Bova’s for a late-night snack. Now this is good living!
Yet people, again with the best of intentions, shared their unsolicited two cents (and if they’re in my family they’ll put in a whole quarter!). I have been told parking is expensive in town. Well, I’ll leave the car in the suburbs. A pack rat informed me that small living units fill up quickly. That’s an easy problem to solve, I won’t put much in it. I was also warned of tourists and nosy neighbors peeking in my windows. Let me tell you, if people are concerned with what I’m doing then they really have problems!
I did take all the warnings into consideration, but I am sticking to my guns. This arrangement works well for Erik and me. I can be quite a curmudgeon when I want to be.
I strongly encourage you to present and stubbornly defend a realistic bucket list during financial planning discussions. As long as there is nothing illegal on that list, a good financial planner will support your decisions. We all know life can be difficult; indulge yourself when possible.