My Life in 5 Minutes

Somebody remarked me this week, “Dave, I like the articles you write because you just say it like it is.  You don’t get all fancy or wordy.”

It reminded me.  I don’t like to read stuff that’s overly wordy either.  It seems that many articles I see contain 90% filler and 10% information.  So this week I am going to take things to a whole new level. Below you will find several concepts that I’ve talked about over the past few years- in as few words as possible.  I’m trying to take my entire planning philosophy and boiling it down into a five-minute read. Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Nearly one-third of the country die with more money than ever.  This implies that many retired Americans are underliving and underspending.  Sound crazy? Just look at the data.

2. The media is your worst enemy.  With all the doom and gloom in regards to the economy and social programs, it is easy to fall into the trap of saying, “Oh my!  I might end up living in a van in the Walmart parking lot.” These fear tactics are completely twisting the reality of most retirees.  While, obviously, there is a portion in the country who find themselves in challenging situations, I would estimate two-thirds of you are in better shape than you realize.

3. Everyone is terrified of running out of money.  Everyone. I don’t care if you have $100,000 in the bank or two million.  I’ve met with literally thousands of retirees. This fear controls almost all financial decisions in your life (but it doesn’t have to).

4. Over the past eighteen years I’ve looked under every rock for a solution to the question:  Where the heck do I put my money once I retire? The conclusion I’ve found is now abundantly clear:  A diversified and balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds. Period. End of story.

5. On that note.  Stocks are remarkably powerful.  Over any long period of time (10-20 years), they’ve basically always returned around ten percent.

6. Taxes are far lower in retirement than while working.  If you are retired and married, bringing in $5000/mo or less, you will pay no income taxes.  If you are single, the number is $3000/mo. This doesn’t apply to those still working part time.

7. Inflation is not going to ruin you.  Social Security increases lock-step with the rate of inflation (if inflation grows by 2%, your Social Security check increases by 2%).  In addition, spending naturally goes down as you age. From your late 50’s to your early 80s, spending goes down by 40%.

8. If you are invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, it is reasonable to spend 5% of the original account value each year. If you retire with $100,000 you can spend $400 a month.

9. Retirement is not all about golf and sipping margaritas by the pool.  Once you retire you need to find purpose.  Make sure you plan ahead of time. Whether you volunteer, start a new business, help raise the grandkids, or serve your church- do not fall into the trap of complacency.  Purposeless inactivity is literally bad for you health.

10. Give with a warm hand.  Generosity is contagious. Inheritance is overrated.  It is far better to help your loved ones and others in need, while alive, than once you’re gone.

11. Presidential elections have no long-term effect on the stock market.

12. Your friends have less money than you think.

13. Don’t buy into the hype.  No one on the planet knows if the stock market is going to go up or down this year.  Not Warren Buffett, not Jim Cramer, no one.

14. The most important factor once retired is not your savings, 401k or social security.  It is your budget.

15. Social Security is not going broke.  It just isn’t. Get it out of your mind.  I can go into great detail of why- but that is for another day.

Whew.  That was fun.  I hope you learned something.

Now go out there, grab the tiger by the tail, and proclaim, “I’m not going to live in fear.  I’m educated and ready to go!”

Dave

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