Why Inconsistent Income Needs Consistent Planning

Why Inconsistent Income Needs Consistent Planning

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Ms. Levinson, who is married to a novelist and has two children, is a client of Mr. McLean’s. She said the impetus for her to think more deeply about her finances was the death of her mother two years ago. Her father, Richard Levinson, a television writer who became a co-creator of shows like “Columbo” and “Murder, She Wrote,” died when she was a teenager.

“The security that is parents went away,” she said. And it left her asking: “How do I protect what my parents left me, and how do I plan responsibly?”

Ms. Levinson said she wanted to know how to plan for the money she would be earning.

“I work in an industry that fluctuates month to month,” she said. “I’ve worked steadily for 20 years, but things change. Let’s say I’m not passionate about something for a while. Do we have enough in the coffer so I never have to take a job out of necessity?”

She has a financial cushion, but she said she did not want to whittle it down and be stuck later on — or not be able to provide for her children the way her parents provided for her.

“I want to make sure I’m not foolishly spending in one direction at the expense of another,” Ms. Levinson said. “I also worry that the first thing to go is joy, which is travel. That’s the stuff that is so easy to cut, but it’s essential” for work.

Her strategy is to take certain tempting but risky investments off the table. “If you can drink it, drive it, eat it or wear it, you probably shouldn’t invest in it,” she said Mr. McLean had told her.

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