Financial Checkups – Explained


“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9).

Despite placing our trust in the Lord, we must take sole control of our financial futures. 

You never know what unexpected life interruptions are going to shake up your financial situation, so it is crucial that you are consistently checking on your current situation and ensuring you have a contingency plan. 

In today’s episode, you will learn about 10 of the most important topics that our financial advisors discuss with their clients during their annual checkups.

These 10 topics are:

  1. Protection
  2. Performance Review
  3. Spousal Alignment
  4. Emergency Fund
  5. Check your Pivot Date
  6. Debt
  7. Beneficiaries
  8. Tax Planning
  9. Held Away Account
  10. Your Net Worth

Let us know what you thought of today’s episode by leaving a comment and sharing the podcast with a friend!


Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and Co-Founder of PAX Financial Group. Thanks for tuning in today to Retire in Texas. I’m glad you’re here. Remember, this information is general in nature only. It’s not intended to provide specific tax, legal, or investment advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

So, I’m excited about this. This particular episode may be one of the most important episodes you could listen to because it’s not necessarily something that’s happening right now in the market, but it’s something that you can control. Again, I come to you guys as a financial advisor, not an economist, although that you feel that they overlap sometimes.

But I’m not in the business of predicting the world. I’m more interested in preparing you for the uncertainty, so more in the preparation than the prediction business. And that’s what makes advisors unique and that’s the basis of this show. Now I come at it with a bias of hope and a Christian worldview. Although I express my Christian worldview in a way that I think is logical and practical.

So, if you’re ever wondering kind of what’s thematically how this show is made up, there you go. That’s how I think about this stuff. So, this one’s really important because this one you can’t control. And this is all about doing a financial checkup annually. I’m going to give you the construction of doing an annual checkup.

We used to call it a financial review, but then we thought about it and fussed over the word review, financial review versus financial checkup. Because a financial checkup better reflects the relationship that somebody has with their doctor, which means you should be doing a checkup every year. I know some of you guys don’t, but you should. And that’s the same thing as a financial checkup.

And as an advisor, we just play the role of a thinking partner. Having a lot of experience, talking with other people, having a point of reference and then studying this stuff all the time. So doing it with somebody that’s in the game all the time is helpful, but you just should do a checkup, a financial checkup every single year.

I think, you know, some Christians love them, but the approach is, hey, the Lord is going to take care of it and I’m not going to really worry about it, that’s antithetical to what I read in the scriptures. Frankly. And that’s not the way we deal with our body and our health. And so, or our children, frankly.

I mean, you know, there’s a lot of scriptures that talk about that I just have a couple off the cuff is, you know, a man’s heart plans his way. The Lord directs his path, to go right on, considers ways to be wise. Who first built a house without estimating the costs means there’s a lot he didn’t give us the spirit to be a bit intimidating but a boldness of what sound mind.

So, there’s a lot that the Lord talks about. Now, again, with all that said, I still trust in Him to work it out. But there’s also this other approach where I was talking to somebody the other day, a very successful guy, and he’s like, Man, I don’t like to do checkups. I feel like it’s just a platform to sell something and just tell me, just like shoot me an email, tell me if I’m making money or not.

And I thought, okay, that’s a good point of view to hear. First of all, as fiduciaries we don’t sell anything. So, when we do a checkup, it’s not to sell anything that’s not part of the plan. Second, this is what I told him. I said, here’s one reason why you should do a checkup. 90% of all women become widows.

90% of women become widows. And so, we need to know that your wife knows what to do. And so that hit him between the eyes, obviously. He said, okay, now I’m picking up what you’re dropping, but let me kind of unpack all that goes into a checkup the way we think about it, we nerd out on this quite a bit.

We have a little checklist internally that we adopt as an organization. So, we’re very thoughtful about what is accomplished in an annual checkup. And you can take this same formula or these ten points I’m going to give you, and you can apply it if you do all this stuff on your own or if you have another financial advisor, you can hold him or her accountable for doing these ten things as well.

So, these ten things are not all encompassing for the purpose of this show. I try to make it as high a level as possible, but it is. These are good ten points to cover every single year at least if you’ve got more complexity in your life and maybe even more zeros in your net worth, then you might need to see your financial advisor for a checkup a little bit more frequently.

We used to implement them quarterly, but then those conversations became kind of bland. So, we typically do a checkup annually and then for some clients that have a degree of complexity, they may be transitioning, they may be pivoting into retirement. Those individuals and families, they may need to meet more frequently. It just depends on the situation. But you can expect PAX to have a checkup every single year, every single year.

It’s part of our fiduciary approach. Okay, so let’s go with this is not a countdown, but it’s a random assortment of ten that we feel that are very important that you accomplish in your financial checkup. So, number one is protection. You have to double check on your protection pieces that include your life insurance, disability, long term care insurance if you have it.

If not, what is the game plan you’re in when it comes to long term care insurance, you have three options. You can be rich, you can be poor, or you can be insured. So, you at least have to have a conversation so that you do not become dependent upon your kids or the state. So, life insurance, disability, disability if you’re under 65, long term care wills, I can’t believe I might do ten checkups before somebody says I’ve been meaning to do my wills until I finally got it done. 

Get your wills done. We often forget about ID theft insurance. That’s probably your biggest risk. Again, the liability exposure is relatively small, but it’s a nuisance and it’s happening all the time. And then finally, umbrella policy, you know, if you get sued. So those are some of the protection pieces, number one. Number two, in this, this just makes sense and you’re going to look at your performance review.

How have your investments been doing relative to what? Like how do you have a point of reference If my investments are doing good or bad, like how do I know? Two ways. One, how does it look over the last several years relative to the goals that you set out? Like, okay, I wanted a 6% rate of return. I have been getting that for the last few years.

So that’s, you know, a little disappointing if that doesn’t happen. Two, well, typically there’s always a benchmark that’s helpful, meaning that how your investments did to the general market often referenced is the S&P 500. Now, when you look at your investments, the most important piece, this is what research has told us is not necessarily the ingredients, hey, I own too much Tesla or not enough or whatever.

You know, I might have had too much energy stock a few years ago, whatever the situation might be, it’s less about the ingredients. Listen to this. Very important. It’s mostly about the recipe. How much did you have in stocks versus bonds and cash? That’s the number one piece that dictates performance. I had a client the other day that was a little frustrated because their performance wasn’t as good, but they had 50% bonds, 50% stocks, and they were comparing it to the S&P.

And of course, of course, they’re not going to keep up when the market’s going up. So, we have to address that recipe piece that’s so important. I keep saying this three or four times to make sure you get it. Ask about the recipe. Make sure we get that recipe right. Number three, very important spousal alignment.

You and your spouse may or may not be on the same page and you might have set up coping mechanisms to work through that thing. Separate bank accounts. Don’t talk about this. Don’t talk about that. I spend money here. You spend money there. But big picture, you got to get on the same page because long term, you have to have a line objective.

Let me give you an example. One spouse based on her history of growing up, it’s really important that she leaves a legacy to her kids and her kid’s kids. The other spouse has an opinion that you spend it all and you don’t leave a penny to anyone. You have to get on the same page early in life to be able to make accordingly.

You have to make the plans accordingly, and you have to save and invest accordingly. And so having a third party to kind of unpack and walk through that to say, okay, what are the common objectives of both spouses is maybe, honestly, from where I sit, one of the most important jobs that we could have, because again, a lot of women become widows.

And I want to make sure that there’s alignment in their voice and their voice is heard. Number four, emergency fund. Emergency funds are actually an underrated tool when it comes to overall planning, because it just gives you that peace of mind and it allows you to not freak out. There’s a saying that says an emergency fund turns a crisis into an inconvenience.

And so having an adequate emergency fund and you do want to do a checkup because sometimes life situations change, and we need that. That emergency fund ebbs and flows in our pivot planning strategy. We have an eBook on and on the website you can grab. It’s called Pivot Retirement Planning. We have a special we call a Super Emergency Fund, a special type of emergency fund arrangement.

When somebody is transitioning into retirement, when they’re pivoting in that situation, we do want more emergency funds and there’s some specific strategies behind having that larger emergency fund. But we need to double check on that emergency fund. Number five, we do need a check on your pivot date, the date that you’re going to transition, the date you were going to retire.

So that’s part of the checkup. Are you making progress towards that? Do you need to save more? Do you need to be more aggressive or maybe you’ve already pivoted and now we need to just double check. Are you taking too much in withdrawals? Do you need to take more? What about your required minimum distributions? Coming up, what kind of pressure is that going to put on your taxes?

Maybe we’re drawing too much in your required minimum distributions might cause you to pay more Medicare. So, there’s a lot of little things to think about when it comes to that pivot date and working through that. Number six, debt. Did you acquire more debt or are you paying it down where the interest rates on those debts, oftentimes they can be ignored, especially with business owners, because you get so distracted and there may be a line of credit sitting out there.

And so we just have to check on that debt and be held accountable to paying that off. Seven, oftentimes we forget about beneficiaries. Got to double check those beneficiaries on the account. If you’ve had a divorce, those beneficiaries definitely need to be updated and then contingent beneficiaries as well. And that includes the investments. But life insurance and even 401ks and accounts that are held at other institutions, that might be little accounts that you kind of forgot about, those beneficiaries need to be updated as well.

Number eight, we don’t often do this, but a lot of people don’t know we do tax planning. I mean, we can use artificial intelligence to take a look at your tax return and formulate strategies to reduce not just your current taxable income, but your long-term lifetime taxable income. Now, there’s so much to accomplish that if your client, you’re like, hey, that’s never been done for me before.

It’s the advisor’s discretion on when to do that and when it’s appropriate. And sometimes there’s other priorities that are in front of that advisor and that client. But we do really, I think, good tax planning. And so, grabbing your tax return and taking a look at that is important. Hopefully your advisor is playing a role there. Number nine, we’re moving through this.

00;11;44;28 – 00;12;03;03


This is a great pace I’m proud of. I said when I put this together, this list together, I was like, there’s no way I’m going to accomplish this in 15 to 20 minutes. And here we are, we’re nailing it. So, I’m actually patting myself on the back. And I’m sorry if I’m talking fast, maybe I’ll slow it down just a notch.

But I was afraid I was going to cover all of this. Okay. So, number nine, I put held away account. So sometimes when people do checkups, they think that the advisors are just looking at the stuff that’s held within that institution that the advisor is associated with. But there are accounts held away from that institution like 401ks or maybe even cash accounts, maybe it’s other assets like businesses or real estate.

And having little conversations about that is important. I know not long ago I was working with a client, and we were looking at their real estate and they were a good real estate person, but they never really understood if they were doing good or bad. And so, we were able to crunch some numbers on whether or not they were doing good or bad.

I actually talk about how to assess your real estate in my book, Small Business, Big Pressure. The first one that came out, there’s a chapter in there on whether or not your real estate’s doing good or not. And I use that formula just to help. What was a game changer, that little conversation ended up her selling the house and she’s like, It’s not worth the mess.

So really good to just have somebody kind of a thinking partner or a financial advisor, a fiduciary look through accounts held outside. And then finally, this maybe I mean, right up there with the spousal alignment, one that I talked about looking at your net worth. Net worth is assets minus liabilities equals net worth, looking at your net worth is very important because if you look over time, your investments may be volatile and maybe almost annoying to see the ups and downs. But what’s interesting I’ve seen over time, when I take a snapshot of people’s net worth and seeing that grow and knowing that me as an advisor played a role in helping that net worth grow is really validating, and the net worth.

Although understand this, it doesn’t become your identity. It never does, especially if you’re a believer. But it does allow you a degree of a scorecard to know if you’re making progress. And that includes owning assets that are growing, but also paying down liabilities along the way. So, checking out your net worth and having a historical record of your net worth is really a really good idea when you’re doing a checkup.

So let me rundown them one more time and then make sure that you adopt these on a go forward basis. We can look at your protection, the performance. Number three, spousal alignment. 4, emergency fund. 5, the pivot date, how are you doing around that? 6, debt. 7, beneficiaries. 8, taxes. 9, held away assets, and 10, your net worth.

So that’s the framework. I know I’m missing a few peripheral things, but that’s the framework of a good checkup. So, the idea that the Lord will work it out, I am convinced that He will. But again, scripture tells me that setting some time aside to think through this with the mind that he gave you, orchestrate a plan, and there’s wisdom in the Council of Advisors.

It just makes sense at least once a year, once a year at least. Do a checkup with your advisor. Hopefully it’s us. Make sure your advisor is a fiduciary. I think that’s helpful. If it’s not us, then take this content and use it to improve your checkup experience with your financial advisor. Hey, thanks again for tuning in. Appreciate you hanging through this content.

And as always, I want to remind you, you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.

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