One of my clients was forced to retire early due to some health concerns. For a while those concerns were life-threatening. Portions of these concerns took place while we were doing some financial planning. As you might guess, this changed the direction of our discussions.
I'll call her "Shelley" (not her real name). Shelley expressed interest in leaving a chunk of her money to her grandkids to help pay for their college educations. A worthy use of her money. But I sensed there might be a better use for it.
It was clear that Shelley loved spending time with her kids and grandkids. Family had always been the most important thing in her life. When she would talk about time with the grandkids, her face would light up.
And that led me to an idea and a series of questions. The conversation went something like this:
"Leaving money for their college education would be great. And they will be grateful. But what if you could leave them something more than money?"
"What do you mean?"
"You love to spend time with them. And from what you've shared with me they love spending time with you. What if you could create some lifetime memories with them? What would that be worth?
"I'm not sure. Tell me more about what you are thinking."
"You have five grandkids. If you gave them money for college, that would certainly help them. But what if, instead, during the summer months you were to take each of your grandchildren on a special trip? A trip that could make memories that would last a lifetime. How would that feel to you?"
As Shelley began to think about it, I could see her entire countenance change. A light returned into her eyes that had been absent, and we began to flesh out how this might work. It gave her something to work on. Something to look forward to. It gave her purpose.
Flash forward: The first of those trips took place this past summer. Two weeks in Maine with one of her granddaughters. On the beach. Making incredible memories. We met several months after the trip took place to update a few things. Shelley glowed as she described what took place. Yes, the trip cost a fair amount of money. But what were the memories worth? They were priceless.
Next summer's trip, this time with two different grandkids, is already being planned.
And that, folks, is what financial tailoring is all about.