Planning Prevents Pressure: Life Transitions

Financial planning is more than savings and investments. It’s about more than money. Financial needs and priorities change in response to life’s transitions. Good financial plans help prepare for those transitions.

Managing them is one of the keys to keeping your finances in balance.

Planning Prevents Pressure

One of my clients, a senior corporate executive let’s call Jack, said his favorite saying at work is, “Planning Prevents Pressure.” When it comes to your financial future, it’s easier to prepare for what’s ahead than it is to repair mistakes.

With that in mind, as part of financial planning, a planner should ask you to anticipate what’s coming up? What transitions might be in your future?

Most Impactful Transitions

Here are six example categories and several important transitions that can go along with them where planning ahead can help prevent high costs, or regret, later.


  • Expecting a child
  • Special family celebration
  • Assistance to a family member
  • Child going to college
  • Child getting married
  • Empty nest


  • Caregiving for an aging parent
  • Disability or chronic illness
  • Recent death of a family member
  • End of life directives


  • Contemplating career change
  • Job re-structuring
  • Expanding a business
  • Starting a new business
  • Acquiring a business
  • New job training or education


  • Downshift in worklife
  • Full retirement
  • Changing residence
  • Starting Social Security income
  • Eligibility for Medicare
  • Starting retirement distributions

Other Financial

  • Refinancing a mortgage
  • Reconsidering investment philosophy
  • Significant investment gain
  • Significant investment loss
  • Considering investment opportunity
  • Receiving inheritance
  • Choosing between pension options


  • Sending a stipend to a family member
  • Starting gifts to children / grandchildren
  • Developing an estate plan
  • Creating a scholarship
  • Funding a cause or event
Priorities Change

Which transitions are most important? Each individual, even within a couple, will have different answers. And those answers may change over time. As new transitions arise and old ones fall away, a well-done financial plan can adapt.

The easiest way to throw off your financial plan is to make a rash, emotional decision in the middle of a difficult moment. One of the ways a plan saves money is to help avoid overreactions to the ebbs and flows of life. It allows you to have greater control by taking a more proactive mindset about your financial future.

Planning Prevents Pressure! Thanks Jack!

This post was adapted from a post by, a financial planning firm offering tools on navigating life’s transitions.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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