To borrow an iconic phrase from the beloved film Forrest Gump, personal finances are like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get. That’s why it’s so important to have your financial situation in order, to anticipate and respond to unexpected life events, says Will Stone, CFP®, Partner at McMullin, Stone & Associates of Fayetteville.
“I had a conversation with a client in the office recently, who made the comment that she really didn’t understand any of this stuff, referring to her money,” Stone recalls. “She just wants it to be there when she needs it.”
It’s common, Stone says, for people not to have an interest in financial matters because they think it’s going to be complicated math, but at McMullin, Stone & Associates, we’re here to help.
“At the core, it’s about life, and figuring out how to make your money do what you need it to, when you want it to,” Stone explains. “The best financial conversations happen in concert with those around someone’s life or their life events.”
Stone recalls a client who lost her spouse a couple of years ago. Though his death wasn’t completely unexpected — the illness extended over a period of years — the final two or three months occurred fairly suddenly.
“Because I’d been working with her for a number of years, we’d been able to position certain accounts and set up beneficiaries,” Stone says. “Because of the work we had done in advance, there weren’t a lot of things that had to be taken care of as his situation declined.”
Stone understands all too well how life can throw you a curve ball. Just a day into a family vacation in Montana with his wife and four daughters, a neighbor called with the news that Stone’s house had been struck by lightning and was on fire.
“It changed both our short- and long-term plans,” he says. “We came home and had a period of a week or two to figure out where to stay and what was going to happen to the house, where the kids were going to be in school, if we were going to be able to stay in the same school district. All those decisions you have to make suddenly, like buying replacement clothes. All those things you don’t think about until it happens to you.”
While Stone gives credit to his insurance company, friends, and family for making it through the crisis, he admits “you don’t get a manual for how to best navigate those decisions.”
“I’m not a pessimistic person, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what can go wrong for my clients,” Stone says. “That’s not something they want to think about, but it’s important for someone to think about what kinds of things could be financially devastating for them. It could be a house fire, a car accident, an illness that prevents them from continuing to work. How are they or their family going to be supported and have money to live on?”
One of the areas Stone advises his clients at McMullin, Stone & Associates on is gaps that need filling, particularly in the area of liability coverage for their home and cars.
“Sometimes people with substantial assets need additional coverage with an umbrella policy,” Stone explains. “That’s not something we offer, but we circle back with their insurance agent and make sure that we get that stuff covered.”
While adequate life, disability, and property and casualty insurance are important, Stone also suggests clients structure their finances toward having an adequate emergency fund that’s not exposed to market risks.
“What we’re really trying to avoid is a personal or life emergency that also turns into a financial emergency,” Stone explains. “We have consistently taken an approach to understand the broader aspects of a client’s financial situation in order to prepare as well as possible for the unexpected.”
To find out more about long-term financial planning through McMullin, Stone & Associates, call 770-471-6674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.