Ep 54: Warning Signs: How To Spot Problems In Your Financial Life

On This Episode

Just like the lights on your dashboard can indicate if something is wrong with your car (like low tire pressure or leaking oil), there are indicators in your financial life that might point out that you have a problem that needs to be addressed.

Subscribe On Your Favorite App

More Episodes

Check out all the episodes by clicking here.



PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. The topics and information discussed during this podcast are not intended to provide tax or legal advice. Investments involve risk, and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed on this podcast. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents.

Here is a transcript of today’s episode:


Marc: Welcome in to another edition of the podcast. Thanks for tuning in to Retirement Planning Redefined with John and Nick here from PFG Private Wealth to talk with me about some warning signs, how to spot problems in our financial life. The years winding down, getting into the new year. It’s maybe a good time to have the radar out looking for things that we are doing maybe incorrectly that we can improve. If you got a warning light on your car, you’re probably going to take it in for service. So maybe the same thing financially speaking. What’s going on guys? John, how you doing my friend?


John: Hanging in there, getting ready for the holiday season.


Marc: That’s right.


John: Thanksgiving is next week, right? So yeah.


Marc: Yeah.


John: Doing all right.


Marc: The time we’re taping this, yeah it’s upon us. Nick, how about you my friend?


Nick: Rough couple weeks for Bill’s fans, but besides that, doing pretty good.


Marc: Overall though they’re still pretty stout, so.


Nick: Yeah.



Yeah. But it happens. It happens. Well,


John: Well the Bills kind of do this every year where they kind of, last year they did it too. They like a two or three games stretch where they just kind of lost focus.


Marc: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. They’re still young too, right? So be a lot too.


Nick: Still painful.


Marc: It is painful. This is true. Hey man. Lions, that’s all I’m going to say. Every time. Although two weeks in a row and we beat the Packers. I’ll take that any day of the week so.


Nick: We play you guys on Thanksgiving.


Marc: Oh well, I’m sure it’ll be a slaughter then. Poor Lions.


Nick: Let’s hope so. Let’s hope so.


Marc: The poor Lions. I just have no faith anymore after 30 years. Well anyway, let’s get into warning sign, right? There’s a warning sign right there that maybe I should move on. But let’s talk about a couple different things. Yeah, this is a pretty big one, this first one actually. So many people are getting ready, as they get ready for retirement, maybe they come in to see an advisor for the first time and they truly have no idea what it costs to fund their lifestyle. That’s kind of a big red flag. And I think many people come in to see folks like yourself the first time. They also kind of undershoot that number. Right. Oh, it’ll only take us three grand to fund our lifestyle. And you start digging in, you’re like, no. So they have no idea.


Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Usually the most painful process of the planning process is digging into the expenses and figuring out what that looks like.


Marc: Right.


Nick: The thing that we try to really emphasize and harp on with people is that it’s one thing to being able to, because there are a lot of people that say, Hey, I save X amount of my money. We’ve got some savings in the bank. And then we don’t pay attention really. And we carry some debt here and there, but we’re usually able to pay it off at a certain point and stuff like that. And it’s like, okay. So from a lifestyle standpoint, as they’re working, it’s not a huge factor. The problem is that when we don’t know what that is and we carry it over into retirement, not understanding what’s being spent and then it makes it really hard to create a plan and to figure out, hey, when you’re going to be able to comfortably retire, things like that. So just so many other things, taking inventory, understanding what numbers we’re dealing with and then trying to make adjustments from there is really important. Because we joke with people, we’re not the money police, but it is important for us to get a good understanding of where things are going from a money perspective so that we can help you plan for the future.


Marc: Yeah, definitely. And you got to have a good grasp on what it truly costs and most of us just wind up not doing that. So again, the big warning sign, if you truly don’t know what that is. John, maybe another warning sign is focusing on that magic number. Right. We’ve heard it for years and most people kind of do the million dollar thing and just use that because it’s easy. But that might be a warning sign. Why are you so hyper focused on a specific number if it maybe takes less or more?


John: Yeah. That’s 100% accurate. And I think that, I forget what company it was that came out with that commercial. What’s your number and what’s your nest egg number or your goal? And I think people got fixated on that. And it’s not necessarily what is your goal from a nest egg standpoint. It really should be what is your goal from an income standpoint so you can fund your lifestyle and how long can that income realistically last? So when we do planning, it’s a matter of hey, like Nick said, we look at, hey, what’s your lifestyle? How do we make sure you continue that and where are the assets? Where’s the money coming from to produce that income going into retirement? Because you can build up as much as you want, but if it’s not giving you income that you feel comfortable with, you’re going to not really hit your goals and stuff you want to do into retirement.


Marc: Yeah, yeah. You have a million dollars, right, and then you find out that 700,000 would’ve done it and you worked three years too long or you need $2 million and you stop too soon.


John: And things to consider, and actually we’re in an interesting time period now with this, is that the interest rate environment and also inflation kind of determines what your lifestyle is going to be because your nest egg could be with interest rates going up, it actually helps you a little bit more from an income standpoint. But with inflation happening, it’s kind of deteriorating your spending power.


Marc: Yeah. Yeah.


John: So long story short, there’s a lot of factors that go into this, which is why it’s so important to do planning versus hey I need to get to a million dollars because what does that even mean from an income standpoint?


Marc: Yeah, exactly. And the eight and a half, yeah I don’t care what the government official number is, but use your wallet when you go to the store and various things. It’s a lot more than that in many aspects of life to that inflation conversation. So it might be the official number, but I don’t know, I think milk’s like 50%, so milk’s a whole lot more. All right, mental image guys of what your parents did. It’s as easy for a lot of people. I’m a Gen Xer, so my dad wasn’t retired long, but I think back on it and I’m like, I don’t think he did any retirement planning. So it kind of worked out so great. I mean I could see people doing that, right? Well my parents really did very little and they seemed to be fine, so I’ll be fine. That’s not really the best idea to go off of because I don’t know how his financial life was completely different than what mine is 35 years ago.


Nick: Yeah. And the reality is, is that that generation, for the most part between their focus was with their parents coming out of great depression, things like that, it was paid down your debt. It was a much less expensive, even adjusted for a lot of different variances of inflation. Less expensive to own a home and they paid off their debt, they had social security, they had pensions and very much lived within their means. Lifestyle and consumption weren’t really kind of the name of the game back then. And so it’s just very different. So they went from having a certainty of income via their pension and social security to now people have to save money in a 401ks, need to learn how to generate income from that. We just went through a 10, 12 year period where as John just kind of referenced good luck getting any sort of return on any sort of fixed or conservative type of investment. And so it was just much more difficult. And that doesn’t even factor in the longevity aspect that we have to deal with. How much more expensive healthcare is.


Marc: Right. Yeah.


Nick: All these different things.


Marc: Yeah. No, it’s easy to do, right, especially if you’re doing the procrastination thing, you can kind of talk yourself into anything, but probably not the wisest thing to do. And again, that’s the whole point of the podcast is how to spot some of these warning signs in our financial life. Getting worked up about the current events? Man, I get this one too. How do you not, right? I mean at the time we’re taping this, it’s even crazier. I mean we’ve got all sorts of things, the market volatility, the election cycle being over, but still problematic. Bonds are down because of the interest rates. We’ve got still conflict thing. It’s hard not to let current events affect how you feel about your portfolio, but that’s also dangerous time for jumping in and just saying, well I’m going to make a change because I feel like I have to versus making sure that you have the right strategy.


John: Yeah, the media doesn’t do us any favors.


Marc: Oh gosh, no. Yeah.


John: With how they portray things and definitely,


Marc: It’s the sky is falling [inaudible 00:08:16].


John: The sky’s always falling. I think they obviously realized that negative media kind of grabs more eyes and more clicks. So that’s what they focus on. This is really where you want to always go back to the plan. And if you don’t have a plan, highly recommend you get one. So I’ll use COVID as an example. That one month period where the market was dropping significantly, the fastest drop potentially ever over that three week span, when Nick and I were doing quite a bit was when we were doing reviews with clients, we would look at the plan and say, hi, how does this affect your plan? Are you still on track? And when they would see that they were still good, the fear kind of went out, like okay, I kind of took that punch and I’m still doing okay. And then it helped them make better decisions and not having any knee jerk reactions. And I’ll say, I’m having the kind of same experience here. We’re doing reviews, obviously a lot of stuff going on, markets volatile. And we look at the plan and the plan still looks solid. People are like, okay, that’s good to know. I’m glad to hear that I’m still on track and this hasn’t affected my lifestyle going into retirement.


Marc: Yeah.


John: I think that’s what most people want to know is, hey, is all this stuff going to affect me? And if it does, how do I adjust to that?


Marc: Well people are kind of pleasantly surprised to find out it’s not been as bad as they thought. But it also depends on how your allocation was set up. It depends on how you were weighted your portfolio. Because 21, right, these two years back to back are pretty interesting, right? 21 was majorly up, 22 is all over the map and down. Right. Anywhere between 15 and 30% depending on the indices. And so there’s like, there’s just kind of this wide spectrum there and if you were heavily weighted in tech, then you’re taking a bigger beating than someone who wasn’t, right? So that’s all part of the game. It’s all part of how you’re strategizing and that’s why you’ve got to get these things done, working with a professional to help you through it. Last one, financial warning sign, the nursing home, long term care conversation, however you want to put it, kind of doing that. Well, almost like the parent thing, well it wasn’t a big deal. It probably won’t be for me or we’ll take care of each other or the kids will pitch in or that kind of thing. It’s just going to kind of naturally work itself out. It’s probably a big warning sign. Somebody mentioned longevity earlier in this conversation, right? That’s going to add to it.


Nick: Yeah. This is as far as the cost of healthcare in retirement, including whether it’s assisted living or nursing home facility care, it’s a really tricky one because obviously those costs have gone up substantially. It’s become more and more difficult for those that want to try to use insurance to help with it. Whether it’s a traditional long-term care or some sort of hybrid policy that’s become kind of a cesspool of space where it’s very difficult to find something. So it is difficult, but just like anything else, factoring it into the plan and understanding that hey, these expenses may be coming down the road and just making decisions, whether it’s with legal documents and or how you save your money to just try to plan for as many scenarios as possible is really important.


Marc: Yeah, definitely. You can’t just put your head in the sand. We are living longer, the costs continue to go up. They’re typically outpacing normal inflation. I hate to even think of what some of the numbers might be right now. So just don’t put this stuff off. Make sure that you’re thinking about these, looking and identifying these potential warning signs moving into a new year, especially moving into the new year. Take some action, start getting some things done. That’s going to do it for the main section of the podcast. We’ll finish off with an email question that has come in as well. And of course if you’ve got questions, need some help, stop by the website, pfgprivatewealth.com. You can find a lot of good tools, tips, resources, you can subscribe to the podcast, all that good stuff at pfgprivatewealth.com. And we’ll finish off with a question from a Charlotte who says, “Guys, I’m 60 years old and I’d love to retire and I think I can, but it seems like of course everyone I know waits till 65, 66, somewhere in that neighborhood. Is early retirement a bad idea?”


John: Yeah. Charlotte, I think one thing you got to realize is you want to look at your own situation. So whether it’s good or bad isn’t depending on somebody else, it’s really up to you. We’re talking about the nest egg and the income and lifestyle and the question really comes down to does your income sources going into retirement and nest egg allow you to retire at 60 to maintain your lifestyle till when the planning ends, whether that’s age 90, 95, or 100.


Marc: And she thinks she can, so why not? Instead of think, right, how about no? Right.


John: Correct. Yeah. If you think you can do it and you’ve done a plan that looks solid, definitely you don’t want to miss out on some fun years, especially earlier in your 60s when you can do more stuff.


Marc: Yeah. But if you just think or how certain are you, right? So do you have a plan or is this something you’re back of the napkin kind of thing? Are you kind of guessing this out? And I think the other piece in this, John maybe is did she take into account, hopefully she did the five year gap before she can get Medicare?


John: Yeah, that is the biggest thing. And that’s why we see a lot of people that hold off on retirement til 65 for that.


Marc: Yeah.


John: So when you’re doing your planning Charlotte, you want to make sure that you’re budgeting for independent plan, whether it’s through a specific company or the marketplace, whatever it is, you want to budget that into it and make sure you’re getting good insurance coverage because you never know what’s going to happen.


Marc: Yeah. Is early retirement a bad idea? Probably. I mean, no, it’s not a bad idea. It’s a bad idea if you don’t have a plan and can’t do it. Right. If you’ve got everything you need, then it’s a great idea. So that’s the importance of a plan. That’s the importance of strategizing. And that is why we do the podcast. So if you need some help, it is Retirement Planning Redefined. Reach out to John and Nick and the team at PFG Private Wealth at pfgprivatewealth.com and we’ll catch you next time here on the podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify, all that good stuff. And we’ll see you next time. For John and Nick, I’m your host, Marc. We’ll talk to you next time.