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3 Thoughts From France

Over the summer, we spent some time in France, which included another of our daughter’s FloyoFit retreats in Normandy.  As I often do, I returned with three thoughts that relate to what we do for our clients in their lives:

Appreciate the influence that others have had on your life.

As families, we can trace many of our characteristics, behaviors, and mannerisms to our past generations. We often do not fully appreciate this until later in our lives. Many of you have relatives who are veterans of World War II, those brave people who made so many sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy today. On this trip, we spent a day visiting several D-Day locations including Omaha and  Utah Beaches, Pointe du Hoc, and various towns that were involved in the Allied Forces attack between the 6th and 8th of June in 1944. Many of those who were there, like my grandfather, never fully shared their stories of the horrors of the day that left 5,000 allied troops dead.
When you stand on that beach and imagine what it was like to face the Germans in the bunkers on top of the hills, or watch the American flag come down while Taps is played in the Normandy American Cemetery with 10,000 perfectly aligned crosses, it is hard to not get emotional. It is important to understand and appreciate the efforts of past generations and their impact on the life you live today.

Have a plan, but be flexible to life's changes. 

I am constantly aware when travelling how important it is to plan all the details well (of course, I am a financial PLANNER).  Nothing is worse than missing a flight, messing up a hotel reservation, or forgetting to rent a car.  However, you also need to be flexible and open to experiences that may arise in the spur of the moment. We had a number of these opportunities on this trip.  The one that stood out the most was seeing the Eiffel Tower at night.

After a very long day of touring Paris (with many trips around the city on the metro) and a nice dinner, as it started to get dark at 11 p.m., I was ready to return to the hotel.  With some encouragement and an idea from someone in our group who knew the best place to see the Eiffel Tower, we took one more subway ride.  We were able to experience an amazing light show at midnight with the full moon rising in the background.   We had other random side trips that took us to a night of music in Dinard for the Solstice and to a 10th century castle in a Norman town.  Have a plan, but follow your heart when it pulls you in a certain direction

Travel (and life) is about connecting with people, not just checking off the bucket list destinations. 

We enjoyed several real “local experiences” on this trip, (something we often do when travelling with Jessie). Our guides were well educated and passionate about sharing their knowledge of the area with us (a food and history tour through Paris neighborhoods and our Normandy WWII experience). Spending time with each of these guides gave us so much more insight into the people and the country than we could have gotten any other way. This was reinforced when we had a cooking class and dinner with a private French chef who shared his passion for cooking and making people happy through his food. In life, as in travel, it is important to make sure you take time to connect with the people that are important in your life. 

We are only on this earth for a short period of time, and we can’t take our material wealth and belongings with us when we leave. While touring the abbey in Mont St Michel, we ran across a 13th century fresco which showed 3 monks and 3 skeletons. As our guide explained the story of the fresco, it reminded me how important it is to slow down and enjoy life (I think the French wine and cheese helped with that too!). We spend a lot of time helping clients plan for the future for themselves and their families. Our clients are successful financially, often accumulating significant wealth. We help them with estate planning and tax strategies to maximize that wealth. But unless you do that planning in the context of your broader, life planning goals, the process loses much of its meaning. We want to make sure you are living your ideal life and that your finances are woven into that life in a way that is meaningful for you and your family. 

I hope that sharing some of these thoughts will encourage you to give more thought to some of these aspects of your life. We are always here to have these deeper conversations as part of your overall planning!

-Lyle K Benson, Jr., CPA, PFS, CFP

The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person. Please see Additional Disclosures more information.