I finally bought a new coat for my predawn and evening dog walks. I had put off buying one for months. I finally decided to tie up loose ends, buy my coat, and face winter.
This is the time of year to tie up your financial loose ends. These are the things that you haven’t wanted to accept, address or attack. They create a certain amount of discomfort and stay with you until you deal with them no matter how much you wish them away.
A big loose end for many clients is updating their wills. Some clients don’t like dealing with death, others don’t like thinking about the family issues that may arise, and some don’t feel comfortable asking others to serve as trustees, executors or guardians for children. This is a narrow vision.
Instead of viewing this loose end as a dreaded task, move beyond the simple drafting of a will and think about how you want the celebration of your life to look. What music do you want at your funeral, how do you want to be remembered? Work with your children to include them in discussions about how you wish your assets to be distributed and explain what values you hope you have lived by. Decide whom you want to have responsibility for your final wishes and tell them so that they can experience the honor of being trusted by you. Don’t let this loose end unravel after your death; tie it in a bow while you are alive.
Another loose end that people tend to avoid is an annual review of their spending. Most credit card companies will send you an annual statement. Rather than shamefacedly discarding this, review it. Take some time to reflect on the expenditures and again experience those that gave you pleasure. Look candidly at others and ask yourself whether this was money well spent or money just spent. See if there were certain times or feelings that led you to spend money differently than you would have wanted. Use this information to help you make decisions next year to better match your spending with your values.
Another loose end this time of year is charity. Consciously decide what percent of your income or assets you wish to give. Create a pie chart of types of causes that matter to you and which charities fit under those causes. Direct your contributions to the places that mean the most.
My mornings are more comfortable in my warm coat. Why did I put it off?
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the founding principal of Accredited Investors Inc. in Edina.