Guest Post by Rob Schultz, The Retirement Guy
I recently read an article, “10 Retirement Lessons from a Retired Retirement Pro”, by Richard Quinn that had been published in MarketWatch and HumbleDollar. The article’s opening paragraph struck a chord with me and I share it here.
“For the better part of 40 years, I spent a great deal of time helping thousands of workers prepare for retirement. We ran seminars for workers and spouses on topics like retirement income, insurance, lifestyle, relocation and more. I think it’s fair to say that, if someone took advantage of the programs offered, they would have been well prepared financially and emotionally for retirement. Sadly, relatively few workers utilized all that was available to them—this despite the support and urging of the unions that represented them. I retired in 2010, suffering in part from banging-your-head-against-the-wall syndrome.”
Since I blog and teach about retirement planning in a similar fashion to what Mr. Quinn did, I can empathize with his frustration and head-banging. I have struggled myself with the question of, why the vast majority of people do such a poor job of planning for something that could last for 20-40 years of their life?
I believe the reason is because there are no immediate consequences for not preparing for retirement. For example; if I continually violate the speed limit, chances are I will eventually get a ticket. If I drink and drive, I am going to eventually lose my license. If I don’t pay my utility bills, I am going to have my water, gas & electricity cut off. If I don’t make my car payment, I am going to have my car repossessed. You get the picture. There is a quote which I attribute to my pastor friend, Dix Winston. “You can choose your actions or you can choose your consequences, but you can’t choose both”. Most of our actions in life, have fairly quick consequences. But retirement doesn’t work like that. You can go along for 20, 30, 40 years without planning for your retirement and for the most part nothing terrible happens, until it is too late.
I am frustrated by people that identify a problem, but offer nothing in the way of a solution, so I will propose one. Financial literacy education, beginning in elementary school, is a practical way to address the problem of not only retirement planning, but also; inadequate savings, debt, poor credit, budgeting, etc..
Bob is a retired human resources guy who blogs about retirement planning on his website, http://www.retirementguy.org.