Practical Prosperity

“If I could work my will, every idiot that goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!”…Ebenezer Scrooge

Does this sound like anyone you know?  While it is from the original Charles Dickens’s, “A Christmas Carol,” I like to attribute it to my favorite Scrooge, Mr. Magoo.  If you haven’t seen this hilarious animated classic, try You Tube or find the DVD.  It is one of my favorite Christmas lines, but not so much because I am cranky, but because it tells a great story.

Depending on how you look at it, Scrooge either had it all or had nothing.  He lived in a huge house, had a successful business, and spent his time counting his “crowns and coppers”.  Of course he had time for all of this because that was all he had.  His friends and loved ones had abandoned him and the townsfolk had trouble knowing whether to hate him or pity him.

Scrooge needed balance between success and happiness.  At Mackey AdvisorsÔ we work with clients to establish this balance every day.  If you have been through our patented The Prosperity ExperienceÔ process, you know that it’s not just about money.  Whereas some advisors make it their premise to determine how much you can save and how much risk you can take, we make it our premise to help blaze a path for financial happiness.  We like to call that prosperity.

How prosperity defined is unique to each individual.  For example, in this age of record low interest rates, often refinancing and paying a mortgage for its duration makes the most financial sense.  However, if you are preparing to retire or debt simply causes you fear, a recommendation to you might be to pay off the debt and own your home free and clear.  A planning process can enable you to implement this recommendation and still know your life is on track to meet your goals, even if it may not yield the highest account balance at the end of the day.  What is most important to you?  Sleeping at night without fear of debt, or passing along a larger estate.  There is no “correct” answer there is only the answer that works best for you.

A few years back in the doldrums of the 2008 stock market crash, we implemented a strategy for some retirees that split the fixed income assets they were drawing income from apart from their equity investments into a separate account.  The asset allocation remained the same; however it made it easier for many to see that their fixed income assets could support them for 5 years or more while their more volatile equity investments could ride the markets as they should long term.  Many clients expressed a piece of mind brought about by seeing the account they were drawing their living from only declining by their withdrawal amounts, and not the volatility of the stock market.

Through a process exploring concepts such as these one can often see that financial contentment (and success) doesn’t always mean maximizing an account value.  So what if Scrooge had started with a plan?  Might he have spent more time with is beautiful Belle and avoided losing her?  Would he have taken a few more vacations away from the stress of his business?  Could he have seen that he could be charitable and respected by the business community in his town and still been wildly prosperous?  Perhaps even still have a chest full of gold?  Granted, maybe an attitude adjustment brought on by a sleepless night of three spirits was inevitable, but he could have made a plan with an 80, 90, or even 100 percent chance of success of avoiding such ghostly apparitions.

2011 has been a rocky year for economic news.  We are beginning to see some consensus that housing, retail sales, jobs, and spending are improving here in the United States.  While there are external forces causing fear, these improving conditions will help us weather the effect such forces have on our markets, our accounts, and our psyche.

This holiday season give yourself the gift of prosperity.  This may mean giving more to charity, taking a few days off to spend with family, or investing in your future by starting off 2012 with a Prosperity PlanÔ.  Evaluate what is most important to you and your loved ones and go do it with a smile.  Most of all have a safe, joyous, and memorable holiday season!

PS:  In case you missed it, be sure to catch a ride on the PNC Christmas Price Index Express.  Every year the economists at PNC arm us with everything we need to purchase the “12 Days of Christmas” for our friends and loved ones.  So take a few minutes and have a little fun, especially if French hens and leaping lords are on your list for someone special.

Andy is Mackey Advisors personal finance whiz kid. Andy's specialty lies in his ability to help clients craft a financial plan that works for them. He is passionate about helping people create a brighter and more prosperous future.

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