“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” Henry David Thoreau.

There’s an understandable view that wealth management and financial planning exist to make wealthy people wealthier.

I beg to differ. Our mission and purpose is to equip individuals and families through education and coaching to make positive, informed financial decisions with confidence. I agree with Suze Orman, bestselling author and personal finance expert when she says, ”A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the ‘what-ifs’ of life.”

We spend time with families, helping each generation understand their opportunities and avoid the many pitfalls, including the recent trend towards social media influencers posing as investment experts. We often have parents tell us their kids get no financial education at school or college, leaving them ill equipped when it comes to money matters. We’d like to change that too, so bear with us.

Here’s a statement that might resonate with some. “The older I get the more scared I am about my financial situation, unfortunately, I can’t afford to retire right now as I’m worried about my income. I feel bad about my current job, work, and business as it doesn’t do what it was intended, and I wish I made different decisions that would lead me somewhere else not where I am now. Frankly speaking my past is characterized by lots of financial ignorance that I am ashamed of, I never had a financial coach or mentor to help me get out of this situation and I feel like it’s too late to change my direction.” A quote from The Apathy of Financial Ignorance by Dr Lucas D. Shallua, an entrepreneur, business leader, academic, and author.

Years ago, retirement was a date on the calendar, an event you knew was coming. It was the day you swapped your salary for pension, hopefully both company and state pensions, and life changed forever.

It’s all a bit different now. Working life doesn’t stop at 60, 65 or even 70. It stops when you find something better, more rewarding to do with your time. As a result, there are far more things to think about, more options to consider. In this brave new world of pension freedoms, it’s up to you when life after work really begins. The former transition from salary to pension annuity provided by a life insurance company and possibly a tax-free lump sum, has been replaced by a veritable smorgasbord of options.

The problem is few, if any, feel properly equipped to take on the range of responsibilities such as building your own retirement fund, establishing the right level of investment risk, managing your investment strategy, trying to minimise tax, not forgetting your post-retirement income strategy. This isn’t easy. Some folk find root canal work a better option than spending time trying to work their way through all the questions that need answered.

Then, just when you think you’ve got it all sorted out, i’s dotted and t’s crossed, along comes a budget full of tax changes, a stock market wobble or major life event. Cue the sound of paper being crumpled and the dull thud of it hitting the bottom of the bin. This is one of the principal reasons people seek out and retain financial planners. They want help to understand what’s going on and what they can do about it.

Let’s just step away from the financial minestrone of retirement planning, investment and tax choices for a moment. We think there may be equally important things to consider.

For example, “What is your purpose and what are your plans for retirement?”. As Harry Fosdick said, “Don’t retire from something; have something to retire to”.

Life will take on a different rhythm. No more working hours, meetings, problems to grapple with or business decisions to make, no commute, except to the golf course perhaps. The point is you get to decide how to spend your time.

So, what will retirement mean to you? More time with the family, the garden, the dog, the golf clubs, perhaps all of the above? Travel is often on people’s lists, visiting family abroad now they have time. Many more want to enjoy experiences, visiting the places they’ve only ever seen in books, a documentary or travel programme.

You may well have reached a certain age, but acting your age isn’t compulsory. Decluttering, downsizing, budgeting, slippers by the fire may be the dream for some, but what about you?

What might you have missed if you hadn’t been there, done that and got the T-shirt?

Despite being prudent, investing and saving wisely, some live very frugally in the early days of retirement assuming they can’t afford luxuries any more. Not so. Just ask. We can show you what level of spending is comfortable, and where levels take on, shall we say, a more reddish hue.

Our experience is that as people age their need and capacity for spending reduces. Our view is that you should spend your money when you are physically able and can enjoy it. If you don’t spend it, or give it away, more of it could end up in the hands of the boys and girls at HMRC.

We have many clients who felt they couldn’t afford to indulge their desire for foreign travel. We helped them with the sums, and showed them that there’s a time to invest, but there’s also a time to spend and enjoy life to the full while they can, and put their feet up when they feel ready to.

Having a plan and purpose in retirement is a boost to your mental wellbeing. Not knowing what you can and can’t afford to enjoy can inject unhealthy doubt and uncertainty into your thinking. Better to know someone has taken the time and invested the energy to understand your plans and purpose for later life and helped create a financial framework that assuages the doubts, takes the pressure off. Leaving you with the task of enjoying life as you always hoped to, maybe even that little bit more.

After all, as C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.”