Making a Game Plan
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A conversation with a friend on the Little League bleachers convinced me to change my ways about retirement planning. | By Carrie

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We were watching our eight-year-old sons play ball one cool, spring night in Round Rock, just outside Austin, Texas, when my friend Karen matter-of-factly mentioned her family’s financial planner. I laughed and said, “Oh, goodness, we’re not to the point of calling in the pros.” Later, I wondered why we weren’t.

Karen kept talking. About mutual funds. About sources of income that helps her feel secure about retirement. By the end of the 7th inning, I was feeling the opposite of secure.

My husband, Joaquin, out there coaching the runners on third base, turns 48 this summer, and I’m 46. We’ve been married 20 years, since grad school at the University of Texas. Our son is 8 and our daughter, 6, so we’ll be looking at college expenses for our two kids right around the timeframe that many people retire. I’ve sort of ignored that reality for years, as I’ve been focused on our current needs.

Because I make the higher salary and have a tech sector job with our benefits, I have taken on the role of primary money manager. Joaquin works from home doing consulting work in marketing, so his income fluctuates. He makes anywhere from $55,000 to 70,000 a year, while I earn a $120,000 annual salary. Joaquin’s glad I’m in a role I like, and I’m thrilled he enjoys working from the kitchen table in our three-bedroom condo, handling carpool, and being with the kids after school. It’s working, but we haven’t ever looked too far ahead.

I’ve been saving periodically toward our family’s future, but not with any real plan. My financial goal has been less than lofty: to simply maintain the status quo. I’m not interested in making waves—at my workplace clamoring for a raise or at home by pressuring Joaquin about earning more money.

We’re not wealthy, by any stretch, but we do just fine, making enough that we can pay for child care in summers, so Joaquin still has some work hours available when the kids are out of school. We pay for baseball and dance lessons, throw the kids big birthday parties, and have a savings account where we’re saving for our trip to Disney before the kids get too much older.

Now, I’m concerned we need a more specific plan for the next few decades of our financial lives. I wanted to feel as confident as Karen the next time someone starts talking about investments and retirement living.

That’s why I called Tim, a financial professional, and he assured me we could work together on a plan. “I’m really fearful,” I told him, and I had the feeling he had talked with people like me before. I gave him the picture: Family of four, living in a condo valued at $257,000, suddenly worried about retirement. “Come see me,” he said. “We’ll look at the specifics and come up with a plan.”

We talked about solutions that can help us plan for both college costs and develop a realistic strategy for creating income in retirement. We have another 10 years on our term life policy, but Tim explained how cash value life insurance might serve us well in retirement. Life insurance provides protection in the event of the the insured's death and may provide supplemental income during retirement. It’s just one option among several that has me a little more knowledgeable and confident about our future.

Before I met with Tim, my conversation with Karen had me feeling desperate and worried we would run out of money long before we ran out of time. Now I feel like Tim’s in my corner, almost like a coach who can help Joaquin and me make wiser financial decisions.

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Plan now, so you’re ready later

For you, family is one of the most important things in your life. You take care of them. They take care of you. Making sure that they’ll always be taken care of, no matter what happens.

LEARN MORE

Retirement income

Being happily retired looks different for everybody. Maybe you want steady retirement income that lasts or supplemental income to help you meet the unexpected in life.

LEARN MORE

Protect and grow my business

You want your business to maintain its competitive edge. Attracting talent and building a succession plan for the future means you can ensure your business stays in stable hands.

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