Even millionaires and multimillionaires have had to work toward their financial independence. And for many it’s a smooth ride toward their ultimate end goal, but I’ve seen my share of them mess up. They’re on course for a smooth ride, when suddenly something derails them: the market tanks, the real estate environment changes, their business is out of sync, or maybe their employer lets them go. Without warning and even though they have some wherewithal, they’re not going to have enough to live the life they wish, now or in the future.

When that happens, I like to ask them if they would rather become financially independent sooner, have more wealth when they get there, or reduce the risk in their portfolio, most people say, “I’d like to retire sooner,” or, “I’d like to be independent sooner.” That said, it’s my observation that well over 90 percent of the people I’ve dealt with do not stop working and play golf for the rest of their lives. The vast majority continue to work because they like what they do; hold onto their business because they like their business; or do something else that is challenging, enjoyable, or a contribution to society. I take what they say and help them work toward finding their best financial future.

For example, I had a client, Sally, who was the owner of a small chain of restaurants and had done very well. She had just turned fifty, and now sixty didn’t look that far off. Did she really want to keep working after sixty?

We sat down together and went through a comprehensive personal financial plan with her that encompassed what she wanted in life, what her cash flow was, and all the things we’ve talked about in earlier chapters. All she really wanted to know was whether she was going to be okay to retire by the time she was sixty or sixty-five. She was living a pretty good lifestyle; she wanted to get a second home and travel more, but she wasn’t sure she could afford that. But it was more important for her to know that, somewhere along the way, she was going to have options and not have to work. When we plugged in her numbers and looked at the life she wanted to live, we thought she wouldn’t have a problem retiring by sixty-five — sixty if she sold her business at the right price. But with that answer, she discovered that she wanted to live a better lifestyle now rather than later. So we dug into ways that we could improve her cash flow, and we showed her that not only could she have that vacation home now but that it was very possible for her to be financially independent years earlier than age sixty. Sometimes, by using your imagination and partnering with someone, you can find the answers. One of the problems is that many people do not take the time to ponder, explore, or create with their trusted advisor.

Sally is now in her sixties and still owns her restaurants—although by about age fifty-seven, she no longer needed to work. To find out how you can live the life you want now, visit tswealth.com for more information.