Ad­vance plan­ning is fi­nan­cially smart

Record Observer - - Senior Satellite - By RYAN HELFENBEIN

Imag­ine if you will, you wake up one morn­ing and get into your car to head out for your daily chores, only to re­al­ize that your car isn’t work­ing. It won’t even start! So you call over to your neigh­bor and ask them if they can take you to the lo­cal car deal­er­ship later that af­ter­noon. When you ar­rive at the deal­er­ship, you walk in and sim­ply state “my car doesn’t work any­more, what do you have and how much will it cost me?” Is this how we pur­chase cars? Bet­ter yet, is this how we pur­chase any­thing?

Per­haps if you have the name War­ren Buf­fett or Bill Gates, but for us av­er­age folk, we are go­ing to learn a bit be­fore go­ing into that deal­er­ship, aren’t we? We are go­ing to un­der­stand what car is go­ing to suit our needs, what amount to spend and what add-ons we would want to make it our very own.

Un­for­tu­nately for years and years this was the way most peo­ple dealt with the loss of a loved one. We’d wait un­til the sit­u­a­tion oc­curs, be­come ed­u­cated on a topic we do not want to learn about, and then hand over a check for what most of us would agree to be a large amount of money. Why not plan for this like we do every­thing else: well in ad­vance.

This process of plan­ning ahead is some­thing that has gained much pop­u­lar­ity over the years, but it is noth­ing new. Af­ter all, the Egyp­tians were do­ing this when they built the pyra­mids. Con­sumers to­day plan in ad­vance for a num­ber of rea­sons, the three most com­mon of which are: to re­move the risk of emo­tional over­spend­ing, ex­press your wishes and lessen the bur­den for the fam­ily.

Emo­tional over­spend­ing is some­thing many in­di­vid­u­als can avoid by plan­ning in ad­vance. A good ex­am­ple of this is a re­cent trip my fam­ily and I took to Or­lando. We set a strict bud­get and it did not in­clude go­ing to Dis­ney; but rather some of the other parks in the area. Do you know, Dis­ney is so good at mar­ket­ing that they had my 3-year-old daugh­ter con­stantly ask­ing to spend three min­utes on the lap of a princess at Dis­ney World! It was so emo­tion­ally dif­fi­cult to say no and the urge to emo­tion­ally over­spend on our bud­get was stronger than ever. My point be­hind this is that we had all the in­ten­tions of not tak­ing the mar­ket­ing bait of Dis­ney, but it was very dif­fi­cult not to spend that ex­tra $90 per per­son for threer min­utes of princess time for my daugh­ter. This can be very sim­i­lar when some­one ex­pe­ri­ences a loss and comes into a fu­neral home with no prior knowl­edge. By mak­ing plans in ad­vance, an ed­u­ca­tion on the op­tions is bet­ter ab­sorbed and we can then make smart de­ci­sions on ex­actly what would be fi­nan­cially smart for our­selves and our fam­ily.

Ex­press­ing your wishes is some­thing we hear much about from the Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties that pass. For ex­am­ple, Elizabeth Tay­lor wanted to be late to her own fu­neral. Sure enough, the hearse came late that day. An­other would be that of a gentle­men I had the plea­sure of meet­ing prior to his pass­ing. He was the party mas­ter, known to all as the man that al­ways threw the best party in town. So on July 30 of this year, we will be clos­ing down the streets of Eas­ton, Md., to do a sec­ond line cel­e­bra­tion with in­di­vid­u­als from New Or­leans play­ing mu­sic for all to hear and be a part of. Unique, one of a kind cel­e­bra­tions are some­thing that in­di­vid­u­als de­sire to­day. By plan­ning ahead, these de­tails can be ironed out and planned for well in ad­vance.

Fi­nally, re­mov­ing the bur­den from the fam­ily and sim­pli­fy­ing the process to only a phone call is by far the most com­mon re­sponse as to why so many in­di­vid­u­als are de­cid­ing to plan in ad­vance. Com­plet­ing nec­es­sary doc­u­ments ahead of time, un­der­stand­ing and de­cid­ing what would be best for my fam­ily, not­ing plans in a fash­ion for all to un­der­stand and to have ever ything fi­nan­cially pro­tected can truly be one of the most pow­er­ful gifts we can leave for our sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives.

Rather than spend­ing an af­ter­noon learn­ing a dif­fi­cult topic at a stress­ful time with a strange dark suited in­di­vid­ual, give your fam­ily the gift of ease and al­low them to take that time to be home with one an­other. Whether it be a car or an­other large pur­chase, it’s al­ways best to plan ahead. In the world of un­der­tak­ing we can do just that, and nar­row the process down for our fam­ily to that of a phone call when the need arises. It can truly be that sim­ple.

RYAN HELFENBEIN

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