Father’s Day and the Gift of Retirement Readiness
Our executive director, Jim Poolman, shares his thoughts on fatherhood and retirement to celebrate Father’s Day.
This weekend, millions of dads around the world will be celebrated by those who appreciate and depend on them. It’s a beautiful moment to remember not just the reward, but also the responsibility that accompanies fatherhood.
As children, dads can seem all-knowing. “Dad knows how to fix it,” we’d say. “Dad knows the answer.” But those of us who’ve had the privilege of becoming a father ourselves know nothing could be further from the truth. Often, parenthood can feel like one long process of “winging it” and hoping for the best. As a result, we quickly learn to ask for help when we feel overwhelmed.
Though nothing can match the stakes of parenthood, many parts of adult life can feel similarly vague. Take retirement planning, for example. How much should you save? How much income will you need each month? Where should you put your money? Stocks? Bonds? Annuities?
Under a mattress?
Like parenting strategies, some options are better than others, but there’s no such thing as “the best” plan. Instead, it’s more likely you’ll find success by following a few guiding principles, instead of fretting over every choice.
- Ask for help when you need it. Just as you wouldn’t think of trying to parent a child without the help of friends, family, doctors, teachers, babysitters and neighbors (it really does take a village…), there’s no sense in trying to tackle your retirement planning alone. Financial professionals train for years to advise you on how to incorporate the vast array of retirement products into your unique life plan. Most of them are pretty good at it, so there’s no shame in reaching out for help.
- Diversity is a good thing. Many parents want their kids to grow up well-rounded, which often means many afternoons are spent driving from piano lessons to soccer practice to math tutoring sessions and more. In a similar way, most financial experts agree a diverse portfolio is a strong portfolio. Instead of relying solely on Social Security or a 401(k), it’s better to incorporate a range of options. If you’re not sure where to start, consider adding a fixed index annuity (FIA) to your plan, which unlike most retirement products can guarantee lifetime income, principal protection and tax-deferred growth.
- Prioritize self-care. Under the burden of life’s demands, it can be easy for parents to ignore personal needs. But this is a mistake, as you cannot take care of those around you unless your own health is in check. Financial health is no different. Giving to charity, saving for your children’s education and spending money on your spouse are all worthwhile investments; however, they should complement smart retirement planning, not supplement it.
There are dozens of aspects to consider before deciding on the right retirement plan for you, but the important thing is that you intentionally set time aside to get prepared. The good news is that plenty of resources exist today to aid you in your search for information, including retirement calculators and even quizzes that test your tolerance for risk.
Give yourself the gift of preparation this Father’s Day. (And please, on behalf of financial professionals everywhere, don’t hide your money under a mattress.)