Blueprints For Special Needs Families – August 1, 2012
Giving It A Try
My middle child has Down syndrome. She is a wonderful nine year old girl who has many abilities. One that I love about her is ability to make people laugh. Another is her compassion towards others. Sarah is working hard on improving several other abilities – including speaking more clearly, reading, writing and maybe, maybe, even one day, math. (Yesterday she told me nine plus 10 equals 20 and I could not convince her otherwise.) At least she is giving it a try.
Sarah takes part in speech therapy once a week, tutoring once a week, occupational therapy once a week in addition to her other activities. Sometime last year, the speech therapist wanted to try something new. She wanted Sarah to participate with another girl with Down syndrome in therapy. The two of them together in conversation, learning, sharing and enjoying the time as they work. Sarah is highly verbal (even if she is not always clear in her speech). But she tends to get stuck on a few subjects of recent interest – mostly depending on what movie is popular or which of her friends has something special happening. She also can work her smile or grumpiness as needed to get out of certain activities – like speech therapy. The idea of pairing her with another person was to help Sarah move towards more robust conversation and increased clarity.
We decided to give it a try.
The speech therapist comes out most days with positive feedback. The girls are working well together, they each accomplish more towards their goals than before and they generally enjoy speech therapy. In addition, I get to spend time talking with the family of Sarah’s partner, instead of sitting there by myself.
So many people I meet take little or no time with regards to financial planning, legal planning and thinking about the future. Each of us knows we need to take care of our planning to take steps to create the best possible life for ourselves and for our special needs family member. The reasons for lack of action are numerous, and include: Fear of thinking about the future. Thinking planning is only for the wealthy or for the aged. Ideas about the likelihood that the future will change compared to today. Having to make a change in today’s behavior to take care of the future.
This month’s newsletter is meant as a call to action to the readers. It is a month to “give it a try” around financial and legal planning. You do not even need to think about what has been holding you back, just jump in and try something new.
This will look different for you depending on where you are in building your dream future.
Some of you are just starting. You need more information to start putting together the blueprints of the future you want to have. Pick up the phone and call the two attorneys you know you need to call. Or, call your special needs financial planning specialist to discuss the building blocks of creating a solid financial framework for your family. Guess what? It won’t hurt. Again, do not think about what is holding you back; think about how important it is to get more information for the future.
Some of you have taken more steps towards building and are moving towards accomplishing some goals. You have your will in place with special needs provisions. But you have not taken any other steps, like saving for the trust or your own retirement. Take the first step this month. Sit down with your H.R. person and begin a contribution to the 401(k) plan at work. Open a savings or investment account to begin your emergency fund. Take out your life insurance policies to review coverage.
Still others have many pieces in place but they are not well-coordinated. For you, schedule time with a trusted advisor to review your entire financial picture. Commit to some activities designed to increase your wealth to be able to provide future income for you and your family. Review your tax situation to see how you might gain by taking deductions or saving differently. Invest in your career to improve your cash flow and ability to save. Sell assets to reduce debt on your personal balance sheet. Write down your dream list or wish list and begin taking actions to make those happen.
Your ability to save and invest those savings over time is the biggest factor you have in creating the assets you will need to support your lifestyle and to fund expenses to allow the special needs person in your life to thrive. Your desire to create a positive, exciting and fulfilling life gives you the motivation to get started and keep going.
For some, the right activities are in motion and it is just a matter of keeping going. For many, the time to “give it a try” is now. There is some new plan, activity or way of thinking that will make a huge difference. Keep trying new things, keep the old ones that work and keep going on making the dreams you have for you and your family become real.
Rob Wrubel CFP®, AIF®, is a Senior Vice President, Investments with Cascade Investment Group, member FINRA & SIPC. Rob is also a father of a daughter with Down syndrome. Cascade Investment Group is not a tax or legal advisor. You should always consult with your tax advisor or attorney before taking any actions that may have tax consequences.