What’s your Cuba?

20.11.2020

It feels like Mondays are the new Groundhog Day – another very positive Coronavirus vaccine result on Monday from Moderna and President Trump continues to assert his statement that he won the US election. Let’s hope that next Monday brings additional good news on the vaccine front at least. The vaccine news from Moderna had a positive effect on markets around the world and they bumped up very slightly. Care is the watch word though and the scientists are keen to instil an air of caution until the regulators formally review the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. We are all waiting for the time to come when we are free to go about our usual lifestyle and this feeling of time and waiting reminded me of a client:

A number of years ago I met a new client (Gaby) who had been referred to me by an existing client. Gaby was 63 and wanted to know if she had enough money to retire at age 65 which was the normal retirement age for her employer. Gaby was a widow and therefore was already in receipt of a Widow’s pension, on top of her earnings, and a modest range of savings and investments. I asked Gaby why she wanted to see me now and more specifically, what she wanted to do during retirement. Gaby said that for many years, a visit to Cuba was on her wish list – she didn’t have a specific reason, but from what she had seen, the sights, colours and sounds made Cuba a very appealing place and she wanted to visit after she retired.

After a detailed look at Gaby’s income requirements and projected income from various sources, as well as existing savings, I asked Gaby back to the office and we went through her cash flow report (including the costs for a fabulous trip to Cuba). At the end of this meeting, I told Gaby that, instead of waiting until age 65 she could retire now and have two extra years of retirement if she wanted to. Gaby sat back and went, ‘Oh’, thought a bit more and after some further chat, she went home.

A few weeks later, Gaby called and told me that she had given three months’ notice to her employer and had decided to retire now. I quickly re-checked my figures! Everything was in order, so I wished her well and an enjoyable retirement.

Approximately six months later Gaby called and asked to see me again – she had been to Cuba and wanted to tell me about it. Gaby came in (now with pink-flecked hair!) and told me about her trip – she had a wonderful time, and it was everything she had hoped it would be. She then told me she had a brain tumour, which was inoperable and she had six months to live. I was stunned and couldn’t quite find the words. Gaby, with her background, and faith was very calm and said that if she hadn’t seen us, she wouldn’t have considered retiring early. In her words, Gaby said, ‘I’ll always have Cuba’.

So, my question to you is have you made the steps to do the thing you really want to do? If not, why? We all know roughly how much money we have, but we don’t know how much time we have. As Robert Anthony, a Professor at Harvard Business School, once said, ‘There will always be reasons to wait. The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.’

What’s your Cuba?

Have a wonderful weekend, Neil.

Neil Pinney
Chartered Financial Planner