How to Make Retirement Planning Easy by Bill Storie
You can’t … simple as that.
I’m not being awkward or silly, nor am I trying to sell you something. I’m just being honest. The planning process for the next 20 or 30 years of your life is tough. You won’t get it right. You hopefully will get most of it as close to right as possible but retirement will never be the lifestyle that the big television commercials tell you. Those adverts are produced and written by people who are years away from the emotional roller-coaster of retirement. Clueless.
I write this article the day before we are doing a big Breakfast Presentation at our local (Bermuda) Chamber of Commerce to an audience still in the workplace and probably in the 35-50 age group – more or less.
So when I sat down to script the content of the Presentation I (once again) realized how complex and at times, confusing, the retirement process is.
The idea that if you have your money worked out that you will be able to afford your chosen lifestyle in retirement, that everything else will fall into place is nonsense. Moreover, the fact that the vast majority of pre-retirees only start to think about their finances in the 5-10 years before retirement, is a scary thought, but nonetheless true, should make you stop and think about your own situation if you are still working.
There is no doubt that the lack of money in retirement will severely hamper your happiness. You will not be able to work longer hours for more pay, or seek a promotion, or find a second job. You’re stuck. Then when you factor in the emotions and stress associated with worrying about the lack of money, the retirement business gets a lot more complicated.
In our upcoming book – The Third Journey – we talk about the Hard and Soft Impact of life events. In other words, say you lose a lot of money, or suffer a serious illness, then the impact of that situation causes several spin-offs. Firstly, if you have little or no money, you will not be able to buy some basics in life such as groceries or rent, far less the luxuries. That is the Hard Impact. But secondly, and at times, more importantly, the stress caused by the lack of money or the emotions of the illness, will cause sleepless nights and constant focus on your situation – that is the Soft Impact. Moreover, in the case of an illness, the impact on your family can be serious. Clearly they are not experiencing the Hard Impact i.e. the pain of the illness, but they are unquestionably feeling the stress and the worry of your problem – they have their own Soft Impact.
Therefore, as I was drafting the Presentation, I had to give serious thought to how much of the non-financial elements of retirement should be addressed. I imagine everyone will understand that bad financial planning is not clever, but I wonder how much thought they have given to how that will affect their lifestyle when they go through the retirement door. Hard and Soft.
I like the idea of person-to-person presentations. The reaction from the audience, their eyes, their body language, and their comments are all signs of how well I’m doing – or how bad. Yikes. I haven’t had rotten tomatoes thrown at me yet, after thirty years of public speaking. There’s always a first time I reckon, but hopefully not this time.
I was once told by a journalist that I walked about the stage too much, used my hands too much, shoulder-shrugged too much and that the audience were focusing not so much on my words but my movements. I told him not to come to my next speech because that is who and what I am, and if he didn’t like it, stay away. Cheeky I admit, but it worked. He never came back – and I never stopped wandering across the stage. Give me a microphone and I’m there for a while. I do admit however that when I get carried away and start my Elvis impersonations it does get a bit awkward. So, if I show up tomorrow with my blue suede shoes don’t say you weren’t warned.
That’s it. I’ll tell you next week how many tomatoes were thrown at me, which I could perhaps suffer – but if they mess up my shoes I’ll be really upset.
By Bill Storie