Sunday, May 2, 2010

Financial Planning – Part I: Plan your work and work your plan

Recently a reader recommended that I write about financial planning for families living with Kennedy's Disease. 

I did write about applying for Social Security-Disability (SS-D) compensation last year (Part I and Part II). Both of these articles discussed several important responsibilities and considerations before and during the application process. Along with other tips and recommendations, I emphasized these three points:

  • Document everything. The more information you can provide up front, the smoother the process will go.
  • Take the time to educate the reviewer. Do not expect the reviewer to understand Kennedy's Disease or your specific situation. The reviewer can be an excellent advocate if he/she understands Kennedy's Disease and your specific disability.
  • Be prepared. The more prepared and organized you are, the better the chance for approval. (e.g., my award was approved in six weeks)

Part II of the SS-D article focused on the preparation aspect of the process. A few years ago I wrote a guide that is useful when applying for SS-D. You can download the PDF guide by clicking on this link.

The Financial Planning Process

Social Security-Disability is all well and good, but it does not help answer the question whether you can afford to retire. Financial planning is important at any age, but it becomes critically important when diagnosed with Kennedy's Disease because you might have to retire earlier than expected. 

Wikipedia: A financial plan is an estimate of future income, expenses and assets.

In this three-part article, I will provide several key steps to developing a financial plan. In today's post, I will summarize the planning process.

Since I am not an expert or someone with a strong financial background, everything discussed in this article is based upon my experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Of course, you can hire a financial consultant, but I feel that the benefits of going through these steps are important to the "buy-in" process. If you do decide to take this journey, I recommend that you review your assumptions and results with a qualified financial planner. A good financial planner should not ask you to invest in specific stocks, bonds, annuities, insurance, or other securities. His role is to just review your plan and provide insight into options for achieving your goals. 

I am certain there are others out there better informed and more qualified to write about this subject. I am hoping they will add their two cents in the comments section below or by sending me an email. I will then update these documents. 

The keys to any good financial plan are summarized in this seven-step process:

    1. Evaluate future needs (Develop a retirement budget)
    2. Analyze current conditions (Retirement savings, regular savings, pensions, disability income, and other investments and assets)
    3. Establish targets and goals (Target = Annual projected savings; Goal = Savings needed for early retirement)
    4. Execute the plan (Develop a plan, gain consensus,and put your plan to work)
    5. Measure performance (Quarterly reviews - How are you doing?)
    6. Review results (How well did you do in achieving your annual target?  Are you still on track to achieve your goal?)
    7. Adjust the plan, as needed (Evaluate, analyze, reset targets, execute, measure and review the revised plan)


In Tuesday and Thursday's posts I will provide the actual steps my wife and I used to prepare for our future. This approach helped us achieve a reasonable level of financial independence and provided me with peace of mind.

As always, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask by commenting below or sending me an email.


  1. Before I begin I would like to complement you on your blog. Every since you began writing your articles last August, I have been an avid follower and look forward to each installment. I was diagnosed with Kennedy's three years ago, so I am always looking for as much information as I can about the disease. Scientific articles are certainly useful, but they lack a personal quality. That is why I find your blog so helpful. You have lived through what I am now experiencing and can provide a personal perspective on how to live with Kennedy's. Your articles are always interesting and informative without being too technical. As long as you continue to find new ways to talk about your life with Kennedy's, I shall continue to be a loyal reader.

    The question I have today concerns testosterone therapy. My doctor is recommending it to combat some of the symptons of a low testosterone level. I know that too much testosterone is a bad thing, but perhaps if it is prescribed in moderation it can help to improve quality of life. I am interested to knowing what your thoughts are on this subject.

  2. Thank you for reading my blog and your kind comments.

    Reference your question on testosterone therapy, everything I have read on this subject tells me that you should not go ahead with this. That being said, I will contact a member of our SRB and ask their opinion.

  3. I contacted Dr. Paul Taylor concerning the question on testosterone therapy and his response follows:

    In response to the question, I advise against supplemental androgen therapy. This is because the evidence is very strong that the degeneration in KD is driven by androgens. There may be some benefit to anti-androgen therapy, but this has yet to be proven. I am happy to get deeper into this with the person asking the question or his doctor if he would like.

  4. Interesting post! Families who have a family member that carries Kennedy's Disease should definitely plan for their finances. This would help them in providing the proper maintenance needed by their patient's disease. This would also help them not having problem about the financial assistance they would probably be needing.


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  5. I think if you are starting your financial planning, you need to read this post. It is a very good first step suggestion. I am sure many people is going to do what is stated in this post.

  6. A financial plan is crucial for anyone, not just those suffering from Kennedy's disease. And the most important part of any plans is to execute it and keep to the plan and never stray from it no matter what the circumstances. There will be times when one is tempted to go off track and it is only by staying the course that one can finally reap the fruits.

  7. It must be really tough if someone in the family has a disease, take for example, if one has a Kennedy's disease. It this happens, the financial planning gets disrupted and you should build another plan for the future. It is an unavoidable circumstance and every time people need to get ready.


Please feel free to comment. By taking a moment to share your thoughts you add much to these articles. The articles then become more than just something I said or believe. In addition, by adding a comment, you might just be helping the next reader by sharing your opinion, experience, or a helpful tip. You can comment below or by sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.