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The trouble with planning

Covid lockdowns in NSW and Victoria have highlighted to us again that we’re not in control.  As much as we like to plan for the future, unexpected things arise and throw our lives off-track.

It’s challenging because a sense of control is important for our mental health and overall well-being.  The good news is that a good financial planner can help you recover from life’s setbacks and wrestle back control when you need it most.

We all need somebody to lean on

When things go wrong in life, it’s essential to have the right support.  Major life changes are difficult for people in the best of times, especially when they’re unexpected.

Did you know that most of us don’t get to choose the timing of our retirement?  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “Retirement and Retirement Intentions” research, the average age most of us plan to retire is 65, but in reality, the average age at retirement is around 55.

Australians typically retire unexpectedly because they lose their job, get sick, or are required to care for a loved one.

Aside from mourning the loss of career identity, a sense of purpose and work community, the unwilling retiree typically experiences financial stress and feels anxious about an unknown future.  

The second-best time to plant a tree

Most of us have heard the proverb “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago”.  It’s a perspective straight out of the financial planning playbook.  With enough time, financial planners can bridge the gap between where you are today and what you’re seeking to achieve in the future.

The trouble is, even if we do have the foresight to plan long-term, external events can throw us off track.  In the words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, “foresight may be vain”.  In his famous poem “To A Mouse”, Burns explains (to a mouse) that you can’t control external circumstances, no matter the amount of planning, “The best laid plans of mice and men Go often awry”.

Perhaps Robert Burns was right.  And if he was, then it means the most important service a financial planner can provide is to help you recover from the unexpected and get back on track.  

Incidentally, the tree planting proverb concludes with “The second-best time [to plant a tree] is now”.  No matter the circumstances you find yourself in, you always have options and there are always opportunities.

Recovering a sense of control

When it comes to money, you can control the important things. You can control how much you spend on discretionary wants and you can control when you spend. You can control how you invest, and you can control when you sell your investments.

And if you partner with When Financial Solutions during your retirement, we’ll recommend an investment framework that puts you in full control of your cashflow and the accessibility of your money.  Because it’s not a matter of ‘if’ life will throw up challenges, but ‘when’.


Michael Bowman and James McMaster are co-founders of When Financial Solutions.  This article is general and does not consider your personal circumstances so it may not be appropriate to you.  If you would like advice specific to you, please give us a call.


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