I recently got a call from a client (we'll call him Fred) who was a great saver-almost a compulsive one. At one of our meetings with him we discussed what he would do if he felt that he had enough money. He listed some of the toys he would like to buy, but said he was reluctant to buy them. His parents, who had experienced financial difficulty, taught him at a young age that he should save as much as he could, so he still wouldn't buy the things he desired, even when our projections showed him that he could never spend in his lifetime the extremely large sums of money he had accumulated. Just as we cajole, coax and persuade our clients who need to save more, we encourage our clients who are financially secure to spend more. So it was with Fred. And I was delighted when he called and said, "Roy, I have taken your advice. I finally bought that boat I always wanted, and replaced my car."

Convincing clients that they have enough to increase their spending is often challenging. It's particularly difficult with clients who have recently retired and were aggressive savers throughout their lives. A typical example was Larry, who is a Depression child and was always taught that spending was bad and saving was good. He vividly remembers the financial pain his parents experienced when he was growing up. Later, he was a successful physician and convinced himself during his working life that he would save as much as he could and spend it only when he finally retired.

The problem with this was that he deprived himself throughout most of his life, and when he retired with more than $7 million, the habit of deprivation was difficult to break. We spent several years trying to get him to change and finally were successful. He now has a boat, too, and spends most of his summers cruising with his wife. He has taken major vacations to many exotic places. He no longer agonizes about spending too much money. In short, he has improved the quality of his life. Our job for Larry, as we saw it, was not to make sure his money grew at the expense of his happiness. While I do not know the exact percentage, I would say that we spend more time convincing our clients it's OK to spend money than we do persuading them to save or spend less.

So while the mantra for financial institutions and advisors has historically been, "Save, save, save," perhaps we need to tell some of our clients instead, "Spend, spend, spend."

Roy Diliberto is chairman and founder of RTD Financial Advisors Inc. in Philadelphia.

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