With half of our country in lockdown, and the other half worried about what is going to come next, this is a good time for some inspiring thinking. In fact, this is a great time to reflect on how we want to remember this time in our lives.

In 2009, Australian palliative care worker Bronnie Ware published a blog post about her observations of and conversations with people at the end of their lives. The blog went viral and in 2012 Bronnie expanded the post into a book titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” It became a bestseller and has been published in more than 25 languages around the world.

The Top 5 list basically speaks for itself. Here it is:

  • “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
  • “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
  • “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
  • “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  • “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

As advisers, we can’t help but notice that financial concerns – and especially anxiety about money – affects at least some of these issues. That is why one of the best things we do is help people feel less anxious about money. Sometimes this just means thinking differently about their finances. At other times it means finding practical solutions to financial problems.

For privacy reasons it is often hard for us to describe our clients’ stories in these pages – many of our clients know each other and the things we discuss are intensely personal. So let us on pass on a story from a “financial adviser we know” and some help he gave to clients of his a little while ago.

In the first client meeting, the exhausted clients described how they were running their own business. In addition to running the business, they were also raising a beautiful daughter who had been born with a disability. Their daughter’s disability took a lot of time to manage and, in various ways, this imposed a financial burden on the family.

As the adviser listened and asked thoughtful questions, he realized that the couple’s business structure allowed profit to be distributed to the couple’s daughter. This is because the usual tax penalty on unearned income distributed to children under 18 did not apply – there is an exemption where the child is disabled. To cut a long story short, this meant that the profit of the business could be split between three people rather than two. In most cases, three people will pay less tax on a given level of income than two people will. Thus, once the family had dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s with their tax agent, the family as a whole paid less in tax each year from that point forward.

The family use the money they save to take a week off from the business each year and have a small holiday. In terms of Bronnie’s book, they are now working less hard and they are helping themselves (and the rest of their family) to be happier. They are now much less likely to look back on their life with regrets.

This was a relatively simple fix that came about purely because the adviser listened. Right now, life is hard for many people. If you or someone you love is finding the going tough, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us so that we can have a good look and a good think about how things might be made easier. Finding these kinds of solutions is the best part of our job – so rest assured you will be making us happier too!