According to Tony Walker, author of the WorryFree Retirement®, there are three key ingredients necessary to reaching your destination. Before getting started you must:
- Determine your “ideal” vision and then write it down. If it’s not written down in a place where you can go and review it regularly, then it’s not a serious goal to begin with. So simply write down your “ideal” retirement. Keep it short and simple (20 words or less).
- Assuming you’ve written down your “ideal” vision for retirement, the next key step is to “commit” to the vision by sharing it with someone you trust who will monitor your progress. It could be your spouse, a friend, or your financial advisor.
- Set up a plan of action, based on your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the vision. The action plan must be flexible to meet changes in the future.
Most Americans are fairly educated. From the time our parents are comfortable putting us on a school bus and shipping us off for the day, we are exposed to a wide variety of subjects. Yet, few students ever receive an education in “goal setting.” We’re asked what we want to be when we grow up, and that’s about it. No one asks us to think about who we are and where we want to be in life.
Few people have a clear vision of their future – including their financial future – because no one has coached them through the process of goal setting.
Going back to the concept of “retirement,” just whose idea was it to convince hardworking people to pick some magical age in the future, quit work, and retire to play golf, mow the lawn, travel, and walk around the local mall every morning? Who came up with the idea of convincing people to stockpile large sums of money in the hopes of living off of it for the rest of their lives? Well, to understand the problem, we need to go back to the beginning of Social Security.
In the 1930s, the government never dreamed that so many people would even reach 65, much less live past that ripe old age. In 1935, the average life expectancy in the U.S. (for both sexes) was 61.7 years. The life expectancy for men was 59.9, and for women 63.9. So age 65 was deemed the magical time when people would quit going to work every day; instead they would go to the mailbox every month to get their Social Security check. The government just never figured on the possibility that someday medical advancements would keep so many people alive far past the age of 65. That’s why the system is in trouble. Today’s worker is contributing to a system that immediately pays his or her contribution out to current retirees. With all the new money simply going to pay the benefits of today’s retirees, there is no real savings or “lock-box” within the system.
In all fairness, the system worked well for a few decades. Our grandparents never had to worry about Social Security. When they went to the mailbox on the first of each month, their Social Security check was there. Our grandparents invested in the system, and they got their fair share in return. Today, however, there’s no guarantee that some Americans will ever receive any of our money back from Social Security.
That’s why casting your own vision for retirement is so important. A clear vision will give you more confidence to plan for the future. Being armed with your own clear vision – a vision which is going to be based on who you are and what you want in life – will allow you to stay focused. It will allow you to stay on track. Establishing a focused game plan will allow you to control your money, so you can worry less about it.
Contact your financial advisor to help you create your own retirement vision. You’ll be glad you did.
The Retirement Pros