Amy V. Smith, CFP®, CIMA®: Starting at the Finish Line

In preparing for a recent speaking engagement on “Financial Planning for Life,” I was reminded that there is more to talk about than money in the world of financial planning. Money is just the vehicle to get us to our financial destinations.

What we do when we arrive is another issue.

Why should we try to plan for life? Because life is full of surprises. We cannot control our future, but we can control our financial behavior—planning, saving, budgeting, investing, and covering risk of loss. This is when the discipline and benefit of financial planning is realized.

After 15 years as a certified financial planning practitioner, I have learned that the essence of effective financial planning is holistic, not compartmentalized. To talk only about money is to see a work of art with one eye closed.

Sticking with the vehicle analogy, you may have a brand new car, but where is it taking you? If you’re planning a trip, where are you going? How will you get there? When will you arrive? You’ll likely need a road map to reach your final destination.

The same analogy applies to financial planning. For example, when setting goals for retirement, most of us will want to maintain, at the very least, today’s standard of living, before inflation, when we retire and not take a pay cut when we no longer earn an income. How and when we plan to get there is the equivalent of a financial road map, a financial plan.

Starting this month, I’d like to expand the scope of this column to include the whole picture, not just the parts, and begin asking the “big questions.” This means not only presenting ideas on individual topics such as investments, taxes, and insurance, but also exploring how these financial vehicles can work together to benefit you, the reader, in your personal retirement planning, risk management and legacy planning.

To address these bigger life issues, I’ve invited my husband, Dan Smith, practicing estate planning attorney for more than 40 years, to join me in writing this column with a new title to fit this broader perspective: Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning For Life. Dan and I have been married almost eight years. We both experienced the death of our spouses. While neither of us had planned for this to happen, it did. Were we prepared? Not really. Were these lessons learned that influenced our work as professionals? Absolutely.

As this column goes forward, we will share with you information and suggestions, which hopefully, you will find helpful in your planning for life.

From "Amy & Dan Smith's Planning for Life" column appearing monthly in the Blue Ridge Leader, Loudoun County, VA.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice.  For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer.

Daniel D. Smith is a partner in the law firm of Smith & Pugh, PLC, 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel: 703-777-6084, He has practiced law in Loudoun County since 1980.