One of the best lessons I learned about financial planning was well before I even became an advisor. It was during my short time as a realtor, right out of college. I had moved back to my hometown and was working in the idyllic mountain town of Durango, Colorado.
One day, a couple in their 60s came into our small office. Brimming with excitement, they sat down with one of my coworkers and told him how they had “toughed out” an entire lifetime of jobs that neither of them particularly enjoyed with this very day in mind. Even at my shortsighted age of 22, I began to see the wisdom behind their sacrifice when I saw the gorgeous 40-acre ranch they had picked to serve as their reward.
They left the office with my coworker, building plans in hand, to see the land that they would soon purchase. Like so many other out-of-state retirees who came through our doors to buy picture-perfect property to live out their golden years, I expected to never see them again.
About a year later, I was surprised to see the wife come to the office again. This time, however, her mood couldn’t have been any more different than last time.
Fighting back tears, she explained how since we had last seen her and her husband, they finished construction, sold their small home in Arizona and headed to Colorado. As her husband guided in the movers—as they backed in the truck to the couple’s new 5,000-foot dream home—he suddenly collapsed to the ground, passing away from a heart attack.
The widow began to sob and said that she couldn’t stand to stay in the house and wanted to sell it. She then recounted the decades of misery her late husband had endured at his job. The late nights, postponed vacations and missed soccer games were always rationalized by the belief that a dream retirement would make it all worthwhile.
I promised myself that day that I’d never go down the same path, and I can happily say that I’ve been fortunate enough to make a career out of helping others realize that they can have a life they love—both now and down the road.