20th century retirement is a 1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Retirement as you knew it is a 1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
The concept is nice, and it looks cool, but it’s a dinosaur when it comes down to it.
Heck, it was a dinosaur back in 1982 as my first car in high school. But I sure felt cool driving anything as a sophomore. Still, it drove terribly, lacked heat or air conditioning, broke down often, and put me in real danger a time or two.
I remember one hot summer evening taking a nice girl out on a date in that non-air conditioned vehicle. On the way to the movie theater, the Karmann Ghia conspired against my hopes for a great date and dropped its back bumper, sending a rooster tail of sparks into the sky behind us.
Fireworks. How’s that for a first impression? It didn’t seem to impress my date.
After I jerry-rigged the bumper back on with a cord rooted out of my messy trunk, my lovely date showed her hot, sweaty misery outright.
We made it to the movies, but you can bet I didn’t get a goodnight kiss that night.
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The extinction of 20th century retirement
When was the last time you saw a Karmann Ghia on the road? You may find them charming, but I say good riddance.
Same goes for the old concepts of retirement. In the 30 years between 1983—near when I was driving that sporty Karmann Ghia—and 2013, the amount of people in the U.S. with a pension plan dropped from 62 percent to 17 percent.
Of course, you probably knew that intuitively. But here’s the thing—the events that triggered this 40-year transition began in 1974 and 1978. And they’re just as outmoded as the Karmann Ghia now.
Specifically, the U.S. Congress in 1974 passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and democratized investing by introducing the Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). In 1978, the IRS made more changes that allowed 401(k)s to become thing.
And those things don’t seem transparent to you. IRAs and 401(k)s are intentionally opaque savings vehicles. They force you to put a financial planner between you and your money all the way until retirement. And many financial planners are essentially salespeople convincing you that wealth creation can come from being a third party to your money and therefore keep you happy in retirement.
You will probably live longer than your parents and still want to live well through your retirement.
Unfortunately, most financial firms that produce and sell financial products as a solution haven’t learned how to help you address the issues you face in the changing retirement landscape. Instead, they’ve created more complicated and expensive products to sell you.
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This is the hammer that’s used over and over to nail you into Paint-by-Numbers Retirement. That’s a one-dimensional solution that pushes you to arrive at a nonsensical, magical number that will sustain your lifestyle from retirement until death.
I followed this shallow solution for too long before I realized it was extinct. Retirement is no longer about having enough money to survive. More than ever, retirement is a gateway to living the life you always wanted.
And I’ve found my clients appreciate me forcing their Karmann Ghia retirement off the road.
The retirement replacement
Let me be clear on something. The 20th century retirement picture was all about saving and investing. I still preach those two things, but with a wider point of view.
The dinosaur on the road—the Karmann Ghia without heat, air conditioning or airbags—is the narrow viewpoint that saving and investing are the only things you should pay attention to pre-retirement.
The Karmann Ghia model makes you suffer in the prime of your life to prepare for the time of your life in retirement. As a different breed of financial planner, I walk you through getting the most out of your today without sacrificing your tomorrow.
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If it seems to you that shoveling aside more money than you’re comfortable with to have a retirement you’re still not sure will be enough, I’ve got some solutions for you that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, get ready to say “Sayonara” to that Karmann Ghia.
It’s time to get her off the road and Rock Retirement for the 21st century.
Question of the week
Have you ever had to sacrifice a career opportunity you wanted to pursue now because you had so much tied up in your retirement accounts?