John Bullis: Setting your financial priorities

A Wall Street Journal article reminded me of the need to look at our lives and our activities with a little different focus. These three questions may help you set your financial priorities.

First, imagine you have enough money to satisfy all your needs — how would you change your life? Maybe you have some hobbies you would like to do? Many folks say they would work less, and some think they might quit their jobs. It is sort of a “if you won the lottery, what would you do then?”

Second, what if you learned you only have 5-10 years to live? Would you change what you are doing to something else? Would you do more with family, or travel or do more of some activities and less of other activities?

Third, if you learned you only have a short time to live, for example just a week or two, what would you regret doing or not doing? Maybe you would work on relationships with friends and family?

The folks that work at jobs they don’t like or don’t enjoy might want to consider what can be done to change that. Some folks have retired at an early age only to discover that is not satisfying them very much. Maybe a different career or different kind of job would be better? I know some retired folk that are very happy enjoying retirement.

One of our clients moved just to avoid the long time to commute to their job and to avoid the heavy traffic. Now instead of over an hour to drive one way to and from work, they only need 10 minutes or less. They did not make much on selling the home, and they have replaced it with a home that is close to work. I think the quality of their lives has improved a lot.

I remember one client that retired and closed his business. He had enough money to retire. A year later he told me he was opening the business back up. He missed the social aspects of the business. He was happier “having a door to open, a reason to get up in the morning, meeting with people, etc.” It was OK to try retirement, but for him it was better to work.

Once a gentleman asked us to figure out how much more he was making by continuing to work for the highway department (he had worked there 30 years and was entitled to a full pension). When we looked at pension income, reduced expenses, etc. vs. the wages, it seemed he was making about 50 cents an hour more by working. I asked him when he was going to retire. He answered, “Not now. I just wondered how much I was making by working. I enjoy my job and I’m going to continue to work.”

Did you hear? “Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.” — Hosea Ballou.

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.


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