Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It surely should be, but either lack of knowledge, stubbornness, or that assassin of all that is rational — denial — stops us from doing what will get us the results we crave.
Let’s continue the whole getting back in shape thing as allegory to getting your retirement Plan in shape.
Against my better judgment, I’ve opted to reveal my ‘before’ measurements in the interest of establishing a real-world baseline. After all, where you are now as it relates to your march towards retirement is the first thing you need to understand on an objectively honest basis. And if you’re getting back in shape, knowing where you are, tends to eliminate any remaining bits of denial you (I) may be harboring.
So in the spirit of enlightenment, and with fearless trust in those who know me, I now lay out where I am now. Now is defined here as when I first took baseline measurements, which was on or about July 20th.
I’m a very tall looking 5′ 9″. I don’t expect that to change, although it’s possible the leaning up process will result in appearing to be a six footer. Denial strikes us all at one time or another, doesn’t it?
We’ll use neck, chest, waist, and weight for our Where are you now? first step.
Neck: 15½” Chest: 42½” Waist: 38½” Weight: 193½ lbs.
Let’s now take a look at a new client. They called me just a few short weeks ago. He’s an executive for a local and well respected company in San Diego. She’s been a stay-at-home mom, and since the kids have left the nest, has kept herself busy with grandkids, her gardening, and work with the teenagers in her church.
We’ll use job income (including both spouses, if both work), current savings, accessible home equity, and 401(k)/IRA balance, if any.
Job income: $85,000 + small bonus Current Savings: $8,000 +/- Accessible Home Equity $200,000 401(k)/IRA Balance: $235,000
They’re married and the husband is slightly older than his wife, at 52.
In our first meeting I asked them what it was they pictured when they thought of their retired life.
Silence. Uh, either one of you can start. Silence.
Then he spoke up, saying they were in my office because they had been reviewing what they’d done so far, and were, as he put it, “…frankly discouraged. We feel like we’re two thirds of the way there in terms of time, yet less than half way in real life terms. We’re very, (pause) unhappy.”
I felt the need to immediately say something to make them feel better. Their assessment was, to be blunt, fairly accurate.
I told them they were manning oars in a very crowded boat, and that there was a light at the end of their personal tunnel — and it wasn’t necessarily a freight train coming their way. They smiled, and visibly relaxed. To be honest, I relaxed too. Somehow, we feel better when we know we’re not alone in our plight.
We ascertained his 401(k) was matched dollar for dollar up to 5% of his income. This is good for them, even though not for their heirs. (No time for that discussion here.) If all their investments inside this plan yield nothing, they still double their money. Since their custom Purposeful Plan will have a place for those funds around their retirement date, we’ll leave those funds to keep doubling.
OK, it’s been about five weeks since I started The Program. And yes, I did create a Purposeful Plan for all aspects of getting back in shape. I addressed caloric intake, exercise, and diet composition. Using far less pretentious words — how much I ate, how, and how much I exercised, and what I ate.
Here is the progress so far.
Neck: 15″ (down ½”) Chest: 41½” (down 1″) Waist: 37″ (down 1½”) Weight: 177 lbs (down 16 lbs)
So far, so good.
My clients, the ‘Smiths’, are now in the process of setting a budget for the purpose of establishing their comfort zone for potentially higher house payments. So far, it appears they can easily afford to take out $150,000 or so, without entering the Nervous Zone. This will allow them to begin investing in growth region real estate, while establishing a Somiinex (Ambien) Account that will be both generous and sleep inducing.
It’s obvious what I was doing wrong. Eating too much — of the wrong stuff — without any real exercise to speak of. Nobody following that ‘Plan’ would be surprised when they woke up pudgy, weak, and unhealthy in general.
The Smiths’ have been following what I have recently started referring to as the American Retirement Plan. They put money in their company’s qualified retirement plan. They hope to arrive at retirement with a paid off home. Their income would’ve been Social Security plus whatever yield they could wring out of the final amount accumulated in the 401(k).
It’s encouraging to note, the Smiths concluded from their own quick, down and dirty analysis, that their plan wasn’t producing results quickly enough. Since they’re over 50, dawdling just wasn’t an option. This is why they called us in the first place.
More and more folks are beginning to see the writing on the wall. I did, except it was the writing in the mirror. Folks thinking about their retirement? The younger they are when they see the writing, the better off they’ll be. For most, the realization they’re approaching a less than abundant retirement isn’t a fun moment.
The Lesson: If what you’re doing isn’t producing results — change what you’re doing.
Next — exactly what Plan will be employed for getting into shape and jump-starting the Smiths’ retirement Plan?