The economic conditions since 2000 have upset many people's retirement plans, and are challenging many assumptions. It was already getting more difficult to provide for retirement, just to accommodate the disappearance of defined benefit pension plans and the subsequent reliance on 401(k) and 403(b) plans. This monumental change has largely transfered the risk and responsibility for financing retirement from employers to individuals. Savings plans were decimated in 2001-2003 and again in 2008, eliminating many years of expected growth just to get back to even. Once again the markets appear to be more risky than usual. Many people are recognizing that they must take their future into their own hands. No more can they simply assume that the economy and their retirement savings will continue to grow sufficiently to naturally provide for their needs.
It is more important than ever these days to have a vision of how you will provide for your future. The personal financial landscape has changed dramatically. Medical advancements will help you to live longer. Inflation will constantly erode your purchasing power. The emphasis on 401(k) retirement plans, rather than company pensions, will force individuals to assume most of the risk of providing for their own retirement. Market volatility is magnifying that risk to a degree usually only seen once or twice in a lifetime. College expenses will continue to increase faster than paychecks. There are myriad financial products, and even more “financial advisors” whose purpose is to sell them to you. Your challenge is to create and execute the right plan, with the right tools and the right advisor. Our intention in this website is to help.
Most people have many things they want to accomplish over their lives. Trying to do all of them can get complicated, but focusing only on today’s problem, or investing without considering the future impact can be counterproductive.
A better way is to think about your life’s needs as a whole. Develop a sound approach that is centered on what you want to accomplish. You can create a “map” to take you from where you are now to wherever you want to be in the future. Select the best overall solutions and the most cost-effective tools. As time passes, and as you move down this path, your personal situation and the economic landscape will change. Maybe even your goals will change. The key is to remain conscious of your progress and keep the map up-to-date, so you can continue to move forward with knowledge and confidence.