Don't depend on promises for your retirement

Tina Haapala |

Last week I introduced the topic we will discuss today. Even your best efforts for retirement planning can get thrown off course. The reality is stuff happens.

When stuff happens, reality and our expectations get misaligned. When this happens you have only one good choice: Deal with it. That might sound a bit flippant. Trust me, I am not trying to be so. That's not easy, it's not fun, and I'll admit that I don't always respond to stuff in a productive way. However, when what we thought was going to be probable becomes impossible, you and I must come to terms with the reality that is at hand.

When it comes to retirement, those who have planned and saved and are prepared for it are in the minority. No wonder. Prior to World War II people conveniently died before or soon after retirement. Heck, the whole idea of retirement was rather new back then. After the war, as America rebuilt the world, people had the luxury of the government (via Social Security) and their companies (via pensions) to watch out for their income when they retired.

Nowadays, we are living a lot longer while company pensions are becoming extinct. So if you want to retire well in the future, there is a lot more planning and saving that needs to be done than there used to be. Fewer people can do it, and those who do have less wiggle room to mollify the potential “stuff happens” of life.

This isn’t a shame-on-you…it’s a shame on all of us. Sure the majority of people haven’t saved enough for retirement, but companies typically under-saved for their pension liabilities until the government made them. And this isn’t a “yay government” as they don’t have near the money saved to have any chance of paying for all of the things they have promised the American people.

You can’t assume that your employer (current or future) is going to bail you out. You sure can’t assume the government will. And I hope that if you read this column even sporadically you know that you can’t hope for some bull market to come along and raise you out of your hole.

No, if you haven’t prepared, it’s up to you to do so. Nobody else is in charge of your safety net. And if you don’t have time to prepare, it is time for your contingency plan. What do you mean you don’t have one? We are coming up on a new year, and that is a great time to make financial resolutions.

Come back next week and we’ll get started with this important plan. But until then, I wish you a very wonderful start to the New Year.


This article was published under the title "Retirement planning can get thrown off" in the Wichita Falls Times Record News on December 28, 2014.