A flight experiencing turbulence

What to Do When You Hit Unexpected Turbulence in Your Flightpath

by Robert W. Tull | June 3, 2021 | Financial Planning, Retirement Planning

Travel, along with much of the rest of the economy is beginning to open back up. Recently United Airlines announced it will add 400 daily flights to July for European destinations and plans to fly 80% of its U.S. schedule compared with July 2019. The airline also said that summer travel bookings rose 214% from 2020 levels. It appears that folks are feeling confident enough due to the vaccine rollout to make up for lost travel time.

Last month I flew to Tulsa to attend my alma mater’s trustee meeting and visit my two-year-old granddaughter. During the flight, the pilot came on the loudspeaker to say “we are seeing turbulence up ahead and would like you to stay in your seats and buckle up.” It was a reminder that to get to your desired destination, there will generally be some bumps along the way.

This is often true when it comes to your financial planning services. In previous posts, I have shared the importance of developing a flight path when it comes to financial planning and retirement planning services. Just as a pilot on any plane goes through their pre-flight checklist, you should also be looking at where you want to go financially, and developing a similar “pre-flight checklist.” This list will improve the probability of a successful financial path by making sure important items are not left out. In addition to making a list, the selection of a trusted co-pilot is paramount when it comes to providing an emotional buffer for when turbulence is encountered.

Over the years, as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and a Retirement Financial Advisor, I have served as this co-pilot for our clients at TullFinancial Group. As you can imagine, having an experienced resource to go to when patches of turbulence are experienced is like having a trusted friend to reach out to during a difficult season. Much like the pilot on my flight communicated, sometimes there is stormy weather and adjustments to the path of the plane need to be made. These events are what I often refer to as the “what ifs” that actually become real and must be addressed along the route.

Looking back, there are many examples of unexpected financial turbulences our clients have experienced over the years. One that comes to mind that is heart wrenching is the loss of a spouse unexpectedly. This unplanned event requires first and foremost the expression of love and concern to the one experiencing the loss. Later, at the appropriate time, the adjustment recommended was the need to make changes to monthly spending patterns going forward.

Turbulence we see occurring more and more is when a couple decides to provide care and financial assistance to an aging parent. This can put enormous stress on a marriage, especially while trying to save for one’s own retirement. Both spouses need to be in agreement about the care when it is the other’s parent requiring assistance. In this case, the change in course direction recommended was redirecting funds toward building a new room for their parents to live and stay and delaying the planned retirement date.

Most recently we navigated a client through a truly unexpected bump in the path when he was laid off due to the pandemic’s effect on the economy. In this case, we provided that emotional buffer – reassuring the client that there is a beginning and an end to any season. The pandemic and quarantine will end, the economy will reopen, and additional job opportunities will become available. In the meantime, he met his expenses because we had counseled him earlier on the importance of setting aside funds in a short-term savings account for unprecedented events such as these.

Each of these unexpected patches of unrest and confusion were extremely uncomfortable for the client traveling along their individual flight path. In each case, they had to buckle up and listen carefully to the instructions of the pilot. They could not have known exactly when these stressful events were going to occur, but when they did arise, they were critical and had to be addressed along the way. Imagine if we had hit that turbulence on my flight and had been given no warning by our pilot.

And then imagine if he had never come over the speaker to let us know it was simply a patch of bumpy air and would be over soon and to remain safely in our seats and properly buckled. The experience would have been significantly more stressful, confusing, and frightening. In the same way, a financial advisor is the person during those times of turbulence to reach out and say “it’s going to be OK – we have a plan.” They can provide the emotional buffer, plus sound financial advice to make even an unprecedented disruption a little easier to navigate in order to ultimately land at your intended destination.

I am quite grateful for that pilot on my flight to Tulsa who took the time to map out the route to our destination. He kept us informed and calm along the way. Even though he may have had to change course a bit resulting in the flight being delayed, we still reached our destination – in our case, to see Aurora Grace, my granddaughter. If you are also looking for a co-pilot for your financial co-path, get in touch with Tull Financial Group. Call now at 757.436.1122.