Don Grant has been a financial planner for nearly 20 years, which means for nearly two decades he’s been having tough talks with people about their money.
“When I first meet with clients, I say, I’m often going to tell you things that you may not want to hear but I have to tell you,” said Grant, who serves as an ambassador for the CFP Board.
Grant shared with Insider the top three pieces of money advice his clients never want to hear.
1. You’re not saving enough
Grant works with clients at various life stages, and those nearing retirement age aren’t happy to hear that they can’t leave their jobs as soon as they want.
“I’ve had to bend a couple of people back to work for a couple of years,” said Grant, who works as an investment advisor with Fortis Advisors in Wichita, Kansas. “When you’re not putting away enough, we’ re not going to hit our targets, which means you could potentially outlive your savings.”
Your financial planner can help you examine your income and assets as well as what you’ll need after retirement to determine how much you should be saving and investing to maintain your lifestyle long after you’ve put in your papers.
If you have children, you also need to save money for their education — no matter how brilliant you think your kids are, said Grant (but not at the cost of saving enough for your own retirement).
“Susie is a great tennis player, but you still need to save for college,” Grant said. “I have had a number of clients who have kids who are extremely talented athletes or great at academics and they think we’re just going to get by on scholarships.”
Think again — and start a 529 plan. Grant recommends saving about 60% of what you think your child’s college tuition will be.
2. You need to take on more risk
You may be tempted to cash out your investments when the markets are down, but don’t.
“Essentially, one out of every four years the markets are down, but the average recovery from a stock market crash is about 400 days,” said Grant.
So, stay the course.
“We’ve got to trust the history of the stock market and other markets we’re invested in,” Grant said. And trust that your advisor has helped you invest wisely so you won’t end up broke.
“They need to stay invested and they need to take on the risk to be able to achieve their goals.”
For small business owners, this risk means being willing to stretch their investing beyond their own companies. Because entrepreneurs are already taking on risks simply by being in business, they’re often leery of investing in the markets.
“When they give me money, they want to put it in CDs,” Grant said. But last year’s pandemic showed why it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to diversify their investments.
“Small businesses got hit the hardest last year, and if there is a slow year, you may need to hit some investments you had in another place that did well,” Grant said.
3. You can’t afford that much house
Whether you’re looking to buy your first home or your dream house, the mortgage isn’t the only price tag you need to consider. Homeownership can be a great source of pride. But when you’re spending your weekends fixing the deck, stopping leaks, mowing the lawn, or getting a new roof, you realize it also can take a toll on your time and money.
“It’s an asset, but it’s not creating any income for you. It’s a drain,” Grant said.
While Grant still believes homeownership is a good idea, he asks his clients to remember this: “Examining how much house you can afford has to do with all of the management and maintenance of the house, too.”
All in all, Grant wants his clients to keep their eyes on the prize.
“The key to keeping on top of this,” he said, “is have a plan, monitor that plan, and base your spending on what that plan tells you that you can do.”