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Every year our Jones family tree comes together over the 4th of July holiday week to share hugs and conversation, and erase the physical and emotional distance that comes from living hundreds of miles apart from one another.  We look forward to this trip each year, and as we ‘kids’ have reached our late 40’s to early 60’s, and our children and grandchildren have grown up too, we’ve been great examples of the truism that life is what happens to you while you’re making plans.

One sister and her husband are close to retirement age, but they’re raising their 12-year-old grandson now, so they spend their free time in Boy Scout meetings, helping with homework and school field trips.  They know they’ll be working longer than they originally planned, and have already taken on additional work to help with current expenses.

Another sister and her husband became the parents of twin boys a year ago, and while we were together we celebrated their baptism at our parents’ church.  Having twins is a wonderful, life-altering event for any couple, but when you’re almost 50 it has an even greater impact.

A younger brother, a former Marine and current law enforcement officer, has had his own life-altering experiences recently.  He was hit in his squad car by a driver running a red light, and was unable to be with us last year while he recuperated from his injuries.  During his treatment for his concussion and broken bones, his doctors discovered he had prostate cancer.  He’s finished with treatments and his prognosis is excellent, but due to complications from both the accident and cancer, he now has hearing aids in both ears, takes medication for a blood clot in his lungs, and walks with a cane due to balance problems caused by both the head injury and damage done to his knees.  He and his wife have coped with humor and love, all while raising their 6 kids ranging from ages 12 to 18 (including 14-year-old triplet daughters).

Life is full of both wonderful and difficult surprises that cause some people to rationalize living only for today.  Just a few weeks ago I met with someone who had received a significant surprise inheritance to discuss what they wanted to do with their windfall.  Before I could say anything, she told me ‘I don’t believe in planning or saving because I think we’re all going to die early from cancer anyway.’  ‘But what if you don’t?’ I asked.  We compromised on saving some, and spending some.

Life rarely turns out exactly as we expect.  But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan.

Having no plan means we don’t have an emergency fund built up to tap into when our medical bills are higher than we planned.  The cost of college shocks us when the tuition bill comes.  Getting laid off from a job we planned to be in for many more years puts us in debt.

There’s no doubt things happen to us in life that catch us by surprise.  But people who already have a plan in place are better able to survive the financial shocks that come with those surprises.  If you don’t have a plan in place, let us help you get one started.  It’s less painful than you may think, and it sure beats the alternative.