Updated January 2017 — Certain conversations — your happiness at your job, fears about raising your children — can be difficult to have with anyone outside of your inner circle. For some, dreams, goals, and money can fall into that category too, which is why many turn to friends when they start to think about their retirement plans.
And while the specifics of your retirement plan — and how you'll reach those dreams — may require a session with your relationship manager and financial team, there are benefits to those early chats with your friends.
"Oftentimes plans and goals start with dreams — who better to talk about what that vision looks like than with a friend or significant other?" says Katie Kellen, Senior Vice President – Wealth Advisor for Wells Fargo Private Bank in Denver. "It also deepens the relationships with the people you care about most, and that connectivity leads to a happier and healthier life, so there are more than financial benefits."
"Giving yourself permission to dream about the life you want . . . helps establish goals." —Danielle Louton, Wells Fargo Private Bank
A vision for your future
Retirement options can be overwhelming, ranging from the grandiose plans you developed as a kid to the more grounded plans you envisioned after college. With age comes a more realistic picture of what's actually attainable, but that doesn't mean those childhood ideas are too far-fetched.
"Giving yourself permission to dream about the life you want — traveling to a new place, volunteering at a favorite organization, or going to every wine-growing region in the world — helps establish goals," says Danielle Louton, Senior Vice President – Senior Wealth Planner for Wells Fargo Private Bank in San Francisco. "Then, talking to friends can make them real."
Even if you don't put pen to paper, articulating your goals out loud "publishes" them, Louton and Kellen explain, making you more accountable for following up with your financial planning. "It's more of a reality when you voice something," says Kellen. "The next question — 'What am I going to do about it?' — then becomes actionable."
A constant sounding board
Your inner circle can also reel you in if you're reaching too far. "Perhaps you don't have the assets to fund every grandchild's education," says Louton. "Talking it through with friends may give you other ideas or forms of the same goal, such as partially funding education or providing a special, educational trip for your grandchild."
But don't wait for these topics to come up organically — schedule a time when you and loved ones can talk about the future, says Kellen. "Planning for the conversation, rather than making it a happenstance, leads to greater success in going down that path toward your goals," she says, adding that it might help to think of it as an annual review of retirement plans with your relatives and friends.
Of course, your dreams change over the decades, which is also where your pals can play a role. "Your vision of retirement in your 20s is very different from 20 years down the road, when you might have four kids," says Kellen. "That doesn't mean you haven't made progress." Those college friends who heard you rave about the Waikiki beachfront can now listen to you fondly contemplate a Winnebago instead, weighing in on the most realistic retirement vision for you right now.
The overshare scare
While friends can be helpful, it's important to be comfortable with what you're sharing. One potential drawback of drawing upon friends and family members for retirement goals is the exposure, which can be psychological or financial, says Louton. "You're sharing your deep thoughts — some people might think that's making them vulnerable or that it's too much sharing, but it also allows you to dream bigger."
Your conversations may help more than just you. Talking with friends can also be a trigger for them to take the retirement reins. The "If you can do it, so can I" mentality can be a powerful change agent, Louton says.
"Seeing someone they love set a goal based on a dream and then accomplishing it can be very motivating to others."