Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

What are you planning for?

I often times mention in class mention the benefits of planning your retirement. Some students are interested and some are not but even those who are intersted rarely act on the things we talk about. I imagine that students believe that they will always be able to provide for themselves. I repect their self-confidence but I read this article by Ben Stein today:

Try this on for size. You’re seventy five years old. You live in the comfy home you’ve always lived in. You play golf in good weather. In bad weather, you travel to where it’s warm and sunny. When your grandchildren call, you take them out on the lake in your new boat. Your wife takes classes in the local college and paints. This is your life in retirement and it’s everything you always hoped and dreamed it would be.

Or, try this scenario: you are seventy-five years old. You live in a tiny apartment with the smell of boiled cabbage and noisy neighbors all around. You live in a scary neighborhood and you dare not go out after dark. Eating at restaurants is just a dream. Your apartment is too small to have your kids or grand kids visit. If you get sick and you have to spend time in nursing care, you don’t know how you’ll afford it. Your life is pure fear.

The fact is that if you are a baby boomer, one of the 77 million racing towards retirement, you have -- to a large extent--your choice of which of these retirement outcomes is yours. You get the good outcome or something like it if you start early, get a sensible, solid financial advisor, make a solid sensible plan for retirement savings, stick to it through thick and thin, accumulate diversified savings of stocks, mutual funds, bonds, real estate, variable annuities and foreign investments. You should accumulate an amount equal to roughly fifteen to twenty times what you need annually to live on–with allowances for pensions and social security. It’s a tall order, and it’s a bit scary to think about, but if you even come close to it, you get to have that great retirement life.

The point is, making sure you have a swell retirement is up to you. Not to Uncle Sam, usually not to your employer, not to your kids. You have to max out your IRA’s, your Keoghs, your 401K’s and do it sensibly, and then some. And you have to start with that all important plan.

Or, you can just be the happy go lucky grasshopper in your working years, not think about retirement, and then later, you get to live in terror. Which sounds better to you? I thought so. No matter how old you are, get started now and do the best you can.

Oh, you should know I am honorary spokesperson for National Retirement Planning Week. And, yes, I get paid for preaching to you. But your doctor also gets paid to tell you to stop smoking and eat green leafy vegetables. That doesn’t make us wrong

FOR DISCUSSION: Is the key to planning for retirement for you to enjoy the twilight of your years or for you just make sure that you survive the twilight of your years?


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