I used to find it odd that the pre-flight safety instructions would say, “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks may drop. Make sure to put yours on first before assisting others.” For most of us, that’s counterintuitive. It’s ingrained in us to protect our family and loved ones by putting they’re welfare ahead of our own. But yet, the safety experts at the airline’s and the FAA deliberately inform you to take care of yourself first.
After reflecting on the specific sequence of events from the safety experts, it made perfect sense. Very simply, you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. The wisdom behind this line of thinking appears to hold true for most major life decisions, and perhaps not so much for less important ones. For instance, it’s probably not critical that you eat the last brownie before your spouse does; that actually might get you in trouble. On the other hand, it’s really important that you go to the doctor regularly so you can be around longer for your family.
So, if taking care of yourself first is important for critical situations like your health, the same holds true for your financial well-being. Isn’t it true that we have to make sure our financial house is in order before we can start thinking about helping others? Of course it is. If you are near or at retirement, it’s time to start thinking about putting plans in place to take care of your loved ones. It’s all a part of proper estate planning and should work in conjunction with your retirement plan.
A proper retirement plan should address some very basic questions like:
- Do I have enough money to last for my retirement?
- Do I have the proper insurance coverage like long-term care?
- Do I have a tax smart investment plan?
- Am I exposed to too much risk or missing out on growth with an outdated strategy?
Once those questions are figured out, you can start to build an estate plan for the benefit of your loved ones. Putting together a proper retirement plan is critical not only to the success of your retirement, but to your ability to provide for your loved ones in the future. If you’re not sure if you are getting the right guidance, or just want a second opinion, call a qualified financial professional and get help.
Most financial professionals offer complimentary meetings where you can get a second opinion review of your retirement and estate plan. Either way you’ll feel relieved knowing your plan is sound or that you’re getting the proper help. It’s easy to see how taking care of yourself first can allow you to take care of your loved ones later. The best part: You can do all of this without putting an oxygen mask on.