A PERSONAL FINANCIAL WAKE-UP CALL!
The alarm is going off, but you are dead asleep. And when you do hear the alarm, you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. Sometime this tactic works and you get up when the alarm goes off again but sometimes you keep hitting the snooze button until you realize that you are now running an hour late and have to rearrange your schedule as a result of over sleeping.
How organized and responsible are you? Are you following a financial life plan with a map and directions on your travels down the Road of Life? If you are married, do you have your family included in your financial plans? These are merely starting points for what is a complex subject, yet are necessary to have you understand what is needed to fulfill your expectations for you and your family, as you continue moving towards your retirement
Unfortunately most people wait until it is too late to properly formulate and fund one, so they careen towards their retirement with the hope that something will happen, that they will win the Lottery, that someone will leave them money, and so many other excuses.
The sad point is that unless you have taken the responsibility for organizing your life at important points along the road of life, including your retirement date, it doesn’t just happen at the last moment.
This article builds on an old cliché “Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail!” Imagine trying to drive from Los Angeles to New York without a map or GPS. You will eventually make it there, but how long will it take? You obviously have to ask people for simple directions along the way and in the process find some to be very direct and some that took more time to find and could have been avoided in the process.
Financial planning is similar to this example. You can get through life with no plan, but in the process learn that some things line up the way you expected them to and many things will fall through the cracks, having you reach important dates such as your retirement unprepared.
Let’s look at some current numbers related to retirement and see how they are affecting you, directly and indirectly.
10,000 Baby Boomers are Retiring daily
38 million Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck
Percentage of people ages 30-54 who believe they will Not have enough money put away for retirement
Average savings of a 50 year old = $ 42,797
Percentage of Americans over 65 who rely completely on Social Security = 36%
Percentage of Americans who do not save anything for retirement = 38%
Retirement is one of those things that we put off and off until it is too late to build a meaningful account and we wind up in a few of the categories shown above. It all starts with our financial education, which is nil in most school systems. I actually speak to professionals that have no clue as to the basics of How Money Works and in the process lose out on what should be a meaningful event in their lives.
It used to be a fairly easy process to follow as we all used the traditional Three Legged Stool, which encompasses Company Pensions, Personal Savings, and Social Security. It worked at one time, many years ago, as companies in many cases did have pension plans for their employees, people were able to save, and Social Security was a solid program.
Unfortunately that old model, used for a basic understanding of what you had to do to retire with some dignity and savings is long gone. Companies in general today do not have pension plans. That is why today we have access to 401(k)’s, IRA’s, SEP’s, Solo 401(k)’s, and so many other personal retirement programs that have to be chosen, joined, and funded for long term growth. Yet as good as these are, they are basic programs. On a personal note, I was one of these 401(k) owners, funded it well over the years and had built it up to where I could see daylight at the end of the tunnel when it came to my retirement, which I had planned to do at 72. Unfortunately due to the Market Crash of 08/09, I lost the majority of it and have to work an additional 8 to 10 years to get back to where I had planned to be at 72. I learned two lessons in that Crash. One was to evaluate other retirement vehicles along with the basic 401(k), so that if something drastic happened again, I would have the luxury of a more balanced approach at my financial plan. In other words, I would not have put all of my eggs in one basket, and two, I now understand the role of someone in the financial consulting field, that can give me as much information as needed to make intelligent choices with my funds for retirement.
Let me ask you four basic questions that will impact your knowledge of what needs done to reach retirement with enough money to outlast your years. I say this as the older stated age for male deaths in America used to be 77.8 years of age and is now updated with newer actuarial tables that show a male like myself, aged 72, is now expected to live until I reach the age of 86. So in setting my retirement age to be 72, I now have to have funds last me another 14 years. Great if I planned on that to happen, but devastating if I had not.
The first question is “Are You prepared for your eventual Retirement?” In sitting with many people and their families at their kitchen tables, with a wide range of ages and demographics, I find that the closer one comes to their later years, 45 plus, that they start thinking about their inevitable retirement and how they are going to fund any meaningful program. Before the age of 45, many people still think they are bullet proof, and seldom think about something that far out.
It does not matter what group you fall into, the key point is that it is never too early or too late to start planning for your retirement plan. Notice I said plan, as many of us, including myself, thought a vehicle such as a 401(k), was all I had to do. On top of that many of these programs are notorious for hidden fees that rob you of money that could have added to a higher balance in your retirement account. Many these financial consultants or advisors do charge fees for their services, so the fees and costs start to add up. Start thinking about when you specifically plan to retire. What is your retirement age? Whatever that date is there is a number associated with your program and the money needed to outlast your living years. Do not wait until it is too late to change your plan to reflect additional monies to add to your account. Starting early will give you the best costs, as youth does have its advantages. Age is a factor in when you start your plan, as lower costs are associated with youth and higher costs with older age. That is why sitting with a financial consultant can be very beneficial in the planning stages. While many companies charge for their services, companies like the one I represent offer Complimentary, No Charge consulting. Bottom line, this area of finance needs someone qualified to lead you through the basics and set up a plan that fits the exact needs of you and your family. Take advantage of these companies and their expert financial advice.
The second question is “Do You know how much your Retirement will cost?” Of course you can get on the Internet and find reams of information on this key subject, but you are still left with deciphering technical information that may or may not generate the right answers for you. That is why I continue to recommend using the services of someone trained, licensed, and regulated by your state to bring you pertinent information that will impact your life as well as your families.
There is a cost to funding a retirement plan. No one is just going to give you millions when you retire because they are good people. In life everything had a cost associate with it. If your number is 3 million to retire with, how did we build the plan to that level? It may have been a blend of a 401(k), mutual funds, and an Indexed Universal Life Plan. All of these have costs associated with them, but we use them as they generate above average rates of return and the reason we are able to build our plan to the level we need once our retirement date arrives. You should be looking at generating higher rates of return, minimizing your risk, and lowering your tax rates. Along with the compounding interest on your investments, it is easy to track how well the plan is doing and with constant maintenance, will generate the expected levels of return that fund your long term program. Make sure you understand the costs associated with your plan, as these are monthly investments that have to fit within your budget.
The third question is “Have You considered How You will pay for your Retirement?”
All of these costs come out of your budget. I always recommend paying yourself first, before the monthly bills, as if you wait to see what is left over after paying the bills, you may not be able to save the needed quantity. In fact we recommend paying yourself 10 to 15% of your net pay and putting this amount into a savings account or investment vehicles that impact your retirement plan. It has to start her. You have to see that without taking care of yourself first, you will always be second and one of the reasons that you may not be able to fund a long term retirement program. One of the first things I look at when sitting with you is your Cash flow. Is it positive, meaning there is money left over after covering overhead, including paying yourself? Or is it negative, which means that you are spending more than you make? Or neutral, where you are spending everything you make. In order to properly fund a retirement plan, there has to be a consideration for what the costs are and if there is sufficient income to offset them. Another huge area of discussion is your debt. I am finding more and more people are in debt up to their eyeballs because of the use of credit cards. Interest on some of these cards is now at the upper limit of 30%. The point being made is that all of this planning is a calculation on the information shared and the actual costs of everything affecting your monthly income. If there is no discretionary income, money left over, it becomes harder and harder to try and fund a retirement program. Learn to live on a budget and learn to start asking yourself a very simple question before you actually make the purchase. We both know the Want is there. We all want a new car, a new house, new clothes, new everything, but here is the burning question – Do we Need the new item? In most cases, I have learned that by asking that basic question, I generally talk myself out of the item and to be truthful, never feel bad about the right decision.
The fourth question is “Do You know how to generate the Retirement income you will need?”
Without the services of a licensed financial consultant, you can figure it out, when you have the time to do your due diligence and sort through the many investment vehicles in the market place. Unfortunately, we both know that time is flying by. Our days are fully engaged with our jobs, our families, and the white noise that is deafening. If you have kids, your off time becomes another job in getting them to their functions on time and all that comes with the responsibility.
In today’s world many people are working not one, but sometimes two and three jobs to make ends meet. It is hard enough sorting through your income to see if you can meet your obligations, much less trying to figure out what your retirement number is and how you are going to fund your plan. My fallback position and recommendation to you is to use the services of qualified licensed financial consultants that are trained to help you with solid information and are regulated by your state. As stated earlier, some of these companies do offer complimentary, no charge consultations, which relieve you of the duty and responsibility to get it right on your own. Let the professionals do what they were trained and licensed to do and help you and your family in the process.
Here is a brief look at how much of your retirement plan by age should be achieved as you progress through life. They are meant to stimulate your mind as markers on the Road of Life and check points that allow you to make adjustments along the way.
By 30: Have the equivalent of your salary saved
By 40: Have three times your salary saved
By 50: Have six times your salary saved
By 60: Have eight times your salary saved
By 67: Have 11 times your salary saved
The time to plan is today. Put it off today and all of a sudden you are three years down the road and a catastrophe hits that you were not planning on. If you had just buckled down and gotten involved three years earlier, the outcome might have been so different. Do not lose sight of time. It is your most valuable commodity and how you use it today will impact your eventual future.
Here is my Call to Action. Contact me for a short conversation to see if our services can make a difference in your financial life. You have nothing to Lose, and everything to Gain. My contact number is 213 276 4588.
The Author, James Hobart, has a fifty nine year career behind him, ten in the U.S. Military and forty nine in the Professional Beauty Industry as an industry executive at every level, with certification in hypnotherapy and a Life and Health license. His insight and experience has helped many companies and individuals with their growth and development over the years. His books, Happiness Is Your Birthright, and Salon / Spa Retail – The Lost Revenue Stream, and his Blog: http://jameshobartmarketing.com, support his philosophy on life and are practical sources to create positive change throughout one’s life.
His support of the global Wellness movement and its eight dimensional model is defined by a focus on three income streams, Financial Consulting with a world class financial services company, a Certified Hypnotherapist with a practice in Ventura, CA, and a Wellness Coach with the largest Consumer Direct Wellness Marketing Company in North America. More information is available at http://makegreengogreen.com/jameshobart or http://melaleuca.com/jhobart