Howard column: Improve your financial life in retirement — This letter will help! |

Howard column: Improve your financial life in retirement — This letter will help!

A relationship is a connection, an association or an involvement with something — usually another person. Healthy relationships support us in leading fulfilling, productive lives.

We also have “relationships” with inanimate objects. I will admit to my relationship with my vehicle. I take good care of her. I trust her — she is steadfast and strong. I occasionally get angry with her when she doesn’t perform as expected. I am grateful that she has provided us with years of adventure and fun. Have you ever thought about your relationship with money as you are headed toward retirement? It will change — like personal relationships. We seek to unfold positive, productive interactions rather than ones of angst, regrets or resentments. It is important to see ourselves separate from our money. Your net worth is not your self-worth. By creating boundaries between ourselves and our money, we are empowered to make choices.

As we head into 2020, and you look towards the transition into the fall season of life, I invite you to write your money a letter. OK, it sounds weird, but it is very revealing, and motivational. I was introduced to the practice 15 years ago, and have written several letters over time. It helped me get clear on what was healthy and unhealthy around my mindsets, attitudes and financial choices, what I wanted to be different. Knowing that a shift from building assets in your life to managing how to maximize their potential in the distribution season, you want look at the numbers as well the relationship changes.

Here are some tips to get your started:


Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Carve out a time and a place that you can be reflective and uninterrupted. I like to type on my laptop, some like pen and paper. Go on a walk — clear your head. Put on some good music, pour yourself a glass of wine, or a cup of tea and settle in.

Set the tone

Think about relationships with people. Why do you have them in your world? How do they make you feel? What do you do for them and what do they do for you? Put a face on your finances that looks very different from yours. What do you see shifting as you look into your retirement years.

Get real

Look briefly in the rearview mirror. What has your relationship with money looked like in the past? Reflect about how it has been there for you, or how it has disappointed you. You want to focus on elements of gratitude — either from lessons learned and opportunities availed. To avoid a victim mindset, I challenge you to write about your part in a negative history. With a positive backstory, what were the personal character traits you brought to the relationship?

Gaze into the future

You can anticipate a 25-35 years of monetary interactions ahead. Write about your hopes and dreams for positive, productive financial rapport. What do you want your money to do for you? How do you want it to be there for you in the go go, slow go and no go aspects of this life season? What is your part in the relationship? Consider the elements of a mutually respectful relationship. How do you see your relationship maturing, or sustaining you over time?

Wind it down

No relationship is ever perfect and they all require work to flourish. In all of them, the only thing we can change is ourselves. With money, many things are outside of your control. The economic, political and market environments are going to change. But you do have control of your mindsets, attitudes and behaviors. Write about how you want to bring money into your life, how you share it with others, how you want to protect, and grow it and how you want to take responsibility in how you spend it.

I would love to hear about this experience for you. I will share my letter with you. Send us an e-mail at with “letter” in the subject line.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA®. Wealth By Design is located at 23300 Two Rivers Rd in Basalt. Your complimentary copy of “Understanding Social Security Benefits” can be found at Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.

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