#44 How to Launch Yourself to a Great Retirement [Podcast]

"Why won't someone give me a straight answer?" This is the comment I get most from listeners trying to find answers to their most pressing retirement planning questions. In 2015, I'm stepping up my game to help you find your answers so you can work towards your ideal retirement.

Announcing Retirement Plan Live

Want to find the answers to the most common retirement planning questions?

  • Can I retire?

  • Will I run out of money?

  • What lifestyle can I expect during retirement?

  • What risks could blow up my plan?

Starting January 7th, you'll get the chance to listen in as I work with a fellow listener, "Carl" , to answer these very questions as we create his retirement plan.

You'll listen in as I walk Carl through each stage of the planning process culminating with a LIVE webinar in which I present the results of Carl's plan.

Who is Carl? Carl is a listener to the show. He reached out to me earlier this year with a fantastic idea. He said, "What if you work with me to create a retirement plan and recorded the whole process so listeners can hear how it works?" "BRILLIANT," I said, "I don't think it's ever been done." So, we did it.

Carl and I have never met and have only interacted for this project. Each week, we'll play our meeting for each stage of the planning process. On January 30th, we'll have a LIVE webinar where you can watch and listen as I present the results of Carl's plan. Frankly, I haven't done the analysis, yet, so even I don't know the results.

This is your chance to get a demonstration of the retirement planning process and hopefully see how your most important retirement questions can be answered.

Want to Create Your Plan Along with "Carl?"

Sign up for weekly e-mail updates and launch yourself towards a great retirement. Each week during the month of January you'll receive a worksheet along with an instructional video to walk you through each step of the process.

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How to Launch Yourself to a Great Retirement with Stacking Benjamins

My favorite financial podcast (besides my own ;-) ) is Joe Saul-Sehy's Stacking Benjamins. It's informative, fun and often times just goofy.  To quote his site, "In a world of hard-hitting, deep-thought financial stories, SB’s goal is lighter, more relaxed entertainment about money."

In this episode, Joe and I discuss his recent white paper, "Why You Shouldn’t Follow Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman or the Motley Fool."

Joe doesn't argue that you shouldn't follow a money guru, just that it's important you follow the right one. The right one depends on what stage you're at in your money journey.

He says there are three stages of your financial journey and an appropriate guru for each stage.

  • Stage One (Launch) Getting off the ground

  • Stage Two (Orbit) Achieving financial freedom

  • Stage Three (You could die) Build serious wealth. Create an awesome legacy.

To get a copy of his free white paper click here.


The Retirement Answer Man Episode #44

What’d you say, Johnny? It’s Christmas time? Ho ho ho ho ho! Ha ha ha!

Welcome to the Christmas Eve Edition of the Retirement Answer Man. I am Roger Whitney, your host, and this is the show dedicated to helping you find that balance between living well today while you still plan for that idea retirement.

I’m so glad you joined me today. This may be the most important episode I’ve ever recorded because I have a big announcement for you today. I’m going to keep this short because it’s Christmas Eve and we all have family that we want to go hang with and enjoy. So, I’m going to have this big announcement and then I have a conversation with the host of my favorite financial podcast – with the exception of my own – Stacking Benjamins.

I’m going to talk with Joe from Stacking Benjamins about his recent white paper about following gurus – whether you follow a Dave Ramsey or a Suze Orman or a Retirement Answer Man, it’s important that you follow the right guru for whatever stage you’re at in life, and Joe has some great insights on that, and not only does he have great insights, he is just a blast to talk to. He’s a lot of fun. He’s a lot more entertaining than I am.

You can find notes for today’s show at rogerwhitney.com and you may want to go there – rogerwhitney.com/44 – because there’ll be the notes for the show but some important links related to my announcement so I’m excited about that.

Before I get to that, let me turn down this Christmas music – I’m sorry – for the all-important disclosure. Even though it’s Christmas time, holiday season, my attorneys don’t care. They don’t want any distractions from these very important words and that is only you know your entire financial situation so please consider this podcast as helpful hints and education – really, anything on the internet that way – and, before you make any changes to your situation, consult the people that actually walk life with you – that could be your financial advisor, your attorney, or your tax advisor. That’s just not great legal disclosure, that’s just common sense and a fundamental principle of planning well in your life.

Before we get to my conversation with Joe, I want to give you this big announcement, and this is why I think this episode is so important. Starting January 7th, I am hosting a month-long event called Retirement Plan Live. The purpose of this event – the great promise to you as my listener and I hope to fulfill it – is to help you build a framework to answer those important questions when you’re thinking about retirement. They’re questions I get every day.

“Can I retire? Do I have the resources to retire?” or “What’s the risk that I’m going to run out of money if I do retire? What kind of lifestyle might I expect in retirement?” and then “What kind of risks are out there that could blow up my retirement plan?” These are important questions that I get all the time from people working their way towards their ideal retirement.

I also hear the frustration where I don’t feel like I’m getting the answers to these questions. Everybody dances around the subject. Obviously, no one can predict the future, but these are important questions that I hear from you listeners and from clients. They want answers to these questions of whether they can retire, what their lifestyle is going to look like, are they going to run out of money, or what risks are out there that they need to be careful of. That’s what we’re going to work to answer in the month of January with this Retirement Plan Live program.

I’m going to have a mid-week podcast here in a few days that will give you all the details but, essentially, what’s happening is, over the five weeks of January, with an extra podcast thrown in there, I’m going to create a retirement plan with a listener and you’re going to get to listen in on every conversation from setting the goals to analyzing the listener’s financial situation to looking at the risks in their life that could affect their retirement plan to establishing their estate and their gifting plan. It’s all going to culminate with a webinar on January 30th so you’ll be able to hear and see the results of the retirement analysis for this listener and we’re going to call him Carl which isn’t his real name.

You’re going to be able to sit there and watch live as I present the results of this analysis to Carl and let him know whether he’s going to retire or be able to retire with confidence given the plan that we’ve mapped out. The cool thing is if you go to rogerwhitney.com/44, there’s a signup form. If you sign up, you’ll get weekly updates as we go through these conversations with Carl, and I’ll give you a video tutorial along with a worksheet so you can work and plan along with Carl throughout the month of January. So, I’m really excited about this.

To introduce you to Carl, I had him record a little bit about himself and what he’s looking to get out of this. So, let me go to Carl right now.

“Hi, everybody! This is Carl, a soon-to-be 52-year-old corporate guy who’s been on the treadmill for about 30 years and, to be honest, I’m just trying to get off as quick as I can. So, I’m trying to work through with the Retirement Answer Man exactly how do I do that and what are my options and how soon can I get out. So, you know, how do you handle the risk of inflation? How do you handle long-term care? How do you handle health care in a retirement age when companies no longer offer retirement benefits? All those questions we’re going to be working through together in January and, you know, Roger, the Answer Man has some worksheets that he’s going to let you work right along with me. So, hopefully, you can join us for the month of January and get some of your questions answered just like I’m looking to get some of mine answered. So, join us in January!”

Now that you’ve met Carl, if you have an interest in this Retirement Plan Live event and you want to follow along and see the summaries of each of our conversations with Carl and you want a worksheet and video tutorial on how to use that worksheet, just go to rogerwhitney.com/44 and there’s a signup form for the Retirement Plan Live event – all free – just something to help us start off and launch you on your way to a fantastic retirement.

With that grand announcement out of the way, now I want to go to my conversation with Joe from Stacking Benjamins. Joe is a former financial advisor. He has a wonderful podcast, Stacking Benjamins, where they talk about personal finance, but they do it in a much more entertaining way than I do, for sure. It’s just a blast to listen to and you don’t even realize you’re learning something.

Here’s my conversation with Joe:

ROGER: So glad to have you on the show, first of all. Joe is the host of Stacking Benjamins – my favorite personal finance podcast beyond mine, I guess I would say, and I’m sure you feel the same way, Joe, right?

JOE: Second to yours? Absolutely. I totally agree!

ROGER: Joe has just recently wrote, written, wrote a white paper called “Why You Shouldn’t Follow Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, or the Motley Fool.” What made you write this white paper, Joe?

JOE: Well, thanks for having me on, by the way, Roger. This is fun. I can’t believe I made it. I feel like I’ve made it to heaven, you know?

ROGER: Yes, yes, you’re on the Retirement Answer Man show. Congratulations.

JOE: This is the place. But the reason I wrote this is much like you. I was a financial planner for sixteen years and, before I sold my business to go explore other pastures, I saw something – and I’m sure, Roger, you see all the time – which is that people would come into my office and they’d say, “Well, Suze Orman said X,” and I would go, “Ugh.” Or they would say, “Well, the Motley Fool guy said that you should do Y,” and I would go, “Oh, man.” Or Dave Ramsey says, “Well, that’s not what…” or David Bach or, you know, name a guru.

There were always people bringing things in, quoting a guru, and then I knew we were about to have a 45-minute discussion about why that advice did not apply to them. So, I thought it’d probably be a good and a fun use of time to write this paper to people, explaining why maybe that guru doesn’t make sense for you.

ROGER: Well, first of all, what is the attraction you think it is that we all have to that guru – that one person that we just follow them and everything will be okay – where do you think that attraction comes from?

JOE: I think we all want this person to tell us that it’s going to be okay. I mean, how many times in your practice, Roger, do people say, “So, am I ahead or behind other people?”

ROGER: Yeah, yeah, a lot.

JOE: If you’re like me, you’ve always answered, “Who cares? It doesn’t matter. It’s you against your goal.” But I tell them anyway, “You’re way behind.”

ROGER: Nice.

JOE: I wouldn’t do that. But it really didn’t matter. But everybody wants to know that they’re going to be okay and they look at somebody like a Suze Orman who speaks with so much confidence or a Dave Ramsey who talks so intelligently and they think, “Well, these people, so many other people believe these people that I need to feel like I’m okay with them. If I call into Dave Ramsey and Dave Ramsey tells me I’m okay, well, then I’m okay.”

So, part of it is this thing, you know, that we call social proof that, because everybody thinks that these people are gurus, then they are. I don’t know much about Dave Ramsey’s qualifications. I know Dave Ramsey’s history; I don’t know much about his qualifications. I know that a lot of people think he’s very smart so other people then assume that he’s smart.

ROGER: Now, I’m just going to say it. Do you think some of it comes from “If I follow that person who is smart then I don’t have to do any of the work. I can just do what they say and not figure out what’s right for my own life”?

JOE: First, to answer your question, yes. But, the longer answer is, if you do that, I think you stepped in a hole, didn’t you? Because Dave Ramsey didn’t get rich following Dave Ramsey’s advice. Dave Ramsey got rich by building a business. That’s what Dave Ramsey did that made him very wealthy.

Now, if you follow Dave Ramsey’s advice, you’re not going to get wealthy. You just don’t want to step in it financially. You won’t go broke following Dave Ramsey’s advice. But, if people think that they’re going to get rich like Dave Ramsey is, really, what you have to do is not follow what Dave Ramsey says, you have to follow what he does, and I’m not knocking Dave Ramsey, Roger, when I say that.

ROGER: Oh, I don’t think so at all.

JOE: But, to be clear, if you think that you’re going to go where Dave Ramsey’s gone, you can’t read what’s in his book, you have to write a book, too.

ROGER: Yes, and we were talking a little bit about this off-air about, when you have a desire, let’s say you’re listening to a Dave Ramsey, usually, it’s because you are struggling financially and his message can help give you a framework for dealing with that part of your life, but it doesn’t take you much beyond that.

JOE: Right.

ROGER: Go ahead.

JOE: Roger, I think that’s where people get confused and that was really the white paper. I used to take forever telling people why this particular guru didn’t make sense for them – that it was nothing against the guru like Dave Ramsey.

If I wanted to know how to get out of debt, Roger, Dave Ramsey’s snowball method – whether you think it’s the best one or not – you know, there’s this big avalanche versus snowball debate and all these things – but, behaviorally, the snowball method has worked. It’s worked a ton. If I want to get out of debt, following the snowball method is a way that, as a former financial advisor, I would point to that and say, “Follow that.”

If I want to help somebody gain a healthy respect for money, I would tell them to read Suze Orman because Suze Orman, at the start of her very first book, she has this whole thing about how you will never be anything with money until you learn respect for a dollar and she really walks through that just brilliantly. I couldn’t even go over it here. It’s just some of the best stuff I’ve ever read about having a healthy respect for money.

And the Motley Fool, sure, you can get rich making money on individual stocks but, if I’m somebody with a bunch of debt, maybe that’s not right for me. But, if I’m at the point in my life where individual stocks make sense to me, then, by all means, the Motley Fool guys know what they’re talking about.

The funny thing is it used to take me, like, you know, with 45 minutes and a cup of coffee – or maybe a whole pot of coffee – I could explain to somebody why they shouldn’t really follow a certain guru. But then, roughly last year, I found this little computer program called the Kerbal Space Program.

ROGER: Okay.

JOE: It’s these little green people on this place called Kerbal and you can find it on your computer if you just do a computer search. It’s K-E-R-B-A-L. This game, Roger, is cool enough that they actually partnered with NASA and NASA went and found these developers and said, “We love your game. We love how you’re teaching kids how to create space crafts and take these little green people into outer space and we want to partner with you.”

In the game, I got it and my kids started playing it. I was looking over their shoulder and, the next thing you know, I’m muscling them out of the way and I’m playing it myself. But you’re learning how to build rockets and you’re learning how to try to get your rockets into outer space. And so, I put my Kerbal guy, Jebediah, into this rocket and I learned – unfortunately, for Jebediah, I killed him, I feel horrible – I realized that (a) I needed a parachute – I didn’t have a parachute on the rocket – and then, (b) I also learned that, with the type of rocket I was using, I didn’t have enough fuel to get into outer space.

That’s when I learned about the Apollo space program and how, you know, they would use a three-stage rocket. If you’ve watched old videos of the Apollo rockets, you can see how, you know, it takes off, it’s this huge thing, and then they jettison one after they go through all that fuel and then there’s two and then they jettison the second stage and then they go to the third stage.

All of a sudden, I realized, when I’m doing this Kerbal stuff, that I can finally explain why some gurus fit for some people and they don’t fit for others, and that’s because there are people that are in different stages of their space program. Some people are on the launch pad or what I call stage one. Other people are just trying to get into the atmosphere where they get a pretty view of the world or maybe they’re headed out of the atmosphere but first you’ve got to go through stage two which is a very complete financial plan. And then, stage three is if I want to go to the moon and, if I want to go to the moon, it’s going to be dangerous but it’s going to be exciting and I’m going to get a lot further. But some people, Roger, don’t want to go to the moon.

ROGER: I’d say most people don’t want to go to the moon.

JOE: Most people don’t want to go, right!

ROGER: You know, financially speaking – and I’m guessing that’s what the metaphor is here – these different stages of life have different fuel that you need which is some of these gurus that you’re talking about.

JOE: Absolutely, and different gurus are speaking to a different group of people. As an example, I see some of these real estate gurus out there, right? Saying, “Put all your money into real estate.” As you know, there’s nothing wrong with real estate. Real estate and stocks are the two asset classes that reliably, over long periods of time, beat inflation, but they both some serious downsides and some serious risks, and when I hear real estate gurus, a lot of the time, they don’t really talk about the risk; they just talk about how exciting it is. That’s when I realized that a lot of these real estate gurus are stage three and I don’t want to listen to a stage three guru who’s taking me to Mars until I’ve at least gone through my launch pad stuff- and my launch pad, we can talk about, you know, who’s for what – but my launch pad stuff and at least acknowledge that there is some stage two stuff that I should do first.

ROGER: Well, let’s talk about that stage one. So, that stage one is going to be, I assume, the basics of personal finance.

JOE: Yeah, this’ll be people that don’t have a basic financial plan. They may have debt. So, if I’ve got a lot of debt to pay off, I’ve got to get my balance sheet figured out and I have to get my net worth statement figured out. For people that just heard jargon there, what I mean is you have to make sure that you’ve got more money coming in than you have going out. So, you have to clean up your income, raise your income, clean up your expenses. And then, in terms of your net worth, you have to get that debt off the balance sheet so that you can get more cash flow more quickly. That is a stage one thing. For those people, I would say you need Suze Orman – you need to read about respect for the dollar – she is stage one for me. And then, Dave Ramsey – out of any guru I know, he’s probably the best one at reading about how to get out of debt.

ROGER: And that’s very uncommon that people want to start there – they want to start at stage two or with the Motley Fool and stage three or with real estate. They just want the excitement because the hard part of getting that stage one rocket out of the atmosphere sort of sucks, right? It’s a lot of rumbling. It’s a lot of fuel spent, a lot of energy spent to get into orbit. So, a lot of people would prefer to skip that stuff.

JOE: Just imagine, though, if you do skip that stuff – and you’re right, a lot of people, you know, how many people have you met that were in a huge mess because they went and they listened to the Motley Fool and they bought a bunch of individual stocks. In 2008, the stocks went in the toilet; they had to sell them right away because they had no cash reserve. A cash reserve is that basic financial plan. You know, Dave Ramsey says, “Put $1,000 in an emergency fund.” If you had $1,000 in an emergency fund and then you went to buy stocks, it might not be enough money, Roger, but at least you’re starting to build from the bottom. So, yeah, very frustrating.

ROGER: Okay. So, Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are stage one in terms of the most common gurus that we talk about here. Now, what’s stage two? Talk to me about stage two, and you better include the Retirement Answer Man here, just so you know.

JOE: I think you’re a stage two guy, right? Stage two are people that want to get this beautiful view of the earth. They now are beyond the basics. I have my debt cleaned up. I know my income and my expenses. Now, I want to asset allocate, and a lot of this is making sure that you have a parachute so I can go up and I can come down safely, right?

So, I go up, I see the world, I get this awesome view, and this is 99.9 percent of people who want this stage two experience. I want to see as much of the world as possible. Last year, we went to Italy as a family. This year, we’re going to Alaska. I get excited about that. So, if I can get that nice stage two view of the world – which means travel, do whatever the heck I want when I want – I need a comprehensive financial plan and, with comprehensive financial planning, now I’m talking about things like asset allocation. I’m talking about setting up my investments for growth but also setting up my investments so that the money is there when I need it to be there.

ROGER: Oh. A wise oil man coined the phrase for me of “that’s my don’t go broke money.” He can do anything else, just don’t mess with the don’t go broke money.

JOE: That’s absolutely that, and these will be people, if you’re looking at gurus, these are guys like Ric Edelman, you know? Jill Schlesinger who has a national radio show called Jill on Money. And then, I would say somebody like a Jean Chatzky. Those will be more stage two type investors. That’s where most people are and that’s where most people should be.

I was talking to some guy at a conference this summer and I was telling him about this – about who I would recommend to Kramer, who I would recommend to listen to Kramer – and the CFP, he looks at me, he goes, “I would never ever tell anybody to talk to Kramer,” and I said, “That’s because you’re teaching people stage two and stage two is great,” and I don’t mean to imply that stage three is better than stage two. I don’t mean to imply that at all. If people are getting that, then my analogy is off.

ROGER: Well, before we move on to stage three…

JOE: Yeah.

ROGER: And I want to talk about stage three. I want to make sure that you re-emphasize the most important guru in stage two.

JOE: Roger Whitney.

ROGER: The Retirement… Okay. Now, we can move on to stage three. Thank you so much.

JOE: Why did I not state that? What was I thinking?

ROGER: I don’t know. I just figured I’d throw it in there. I don’t know why. Okay. So, let’s talk about stage three, and I totally interrupted you because it was all about me for there – for that little moment, anyway. So, let’s go to stage three which is where a lot of individuals feel like they should be going. You know, we all get these huge dreams, we want to make the most of our world, we all want to be – I don’t even want to say we all want to be wealthy but there’s that attraction to being “that guy” or “that gal” and that’s stage three. So, tell me about stage three.

JOE: Stage three, Roger, is sexy because you could die!

ROGER: You’re an astronaut then. You’re truly, you know, an astronaut. You’ve been there, done that. You have that card, what’s that comic that always says, “Well, I’ve been to the moon.” No man can ever out-story you at a party if you’ve been to the moon.

JOE: Right. The guy’s talking about his yacht. Well, I walked on the moon. Okay.

ROGER: Yeah, you just sit back and pull that card out. Nobody can trump it. So, that’s why we have this attraction to being that guy or that gal.

JOE: I love following the space program. I love that they’re taking pictures now of Pluto. We’ve got one thing out there in outer space taking pictures of Pluto. There’s another one that’s going by Saturn right now. You know, we’ve got a lander on Mars. It’s a very exciting time to talk about space, but all of these things are super dangerous. I would never want to be one of those people who signed up. Did you see these people that signed up, Roger, to go to Mars?

ROGER: Yeah, on a Russian spacecraft?

JOE: Right. And then, Richard Branson blows up his spaceship, inadvertently, right? And somebody dies. And did you see how many people actually took their names off the list? And I thought, “You didn’t know that was stage three before you signed up?”

ROGER: Yeah, I didn’t read that waiver!

JOE: I thought that was so funny. All these people, “Oh, yeah! I definitely want to go into outer space.” You know what? I’m getting two analogies mixed up because that was actually people that wanted to be space tourists actually going to outer space.

ROGER: Yeah.

JOE: But, still, I thought it was funny. It’s dangerous and people don’t think about that. So, stage three is, if everything goes right, if we get every single thing right or we get incredibly lucky, we could be massively, massively rich. However, there are tons of pitfalls along the way. And so, this would be hot stock trading with a guy like Jim Kramer. It’s funny, on CNBC, on his show – as you know, Roger – it says, what does it say? It says, “Don’t invest all your money this way.” And then, the second thing it says is, “Consult with your financial advisor to see which portion of your assets you should actually be taking to do this kind of hot stock trading.”

ROGER: But, moments before, he goes, “Buy! Buy! Buy! Buy!”

JOE: Right! It is so funny. They say, you know, all the disclaimers say, “Everything we’re telling you here is not for hardly anybody,” and then, “Oh, here’s the sexy part. We’re going to tell you buy, buy, sell, sell.”

So, Kramer’s great, but realize what you’re risking there. Some of these no-money-down real estate gurus? Once again, fantastic, but think about this: If I’m going to do that safely, right? If I’m going to go to stage three safely, what should I do? I should have my debt cleaned up. I should have my emergency fund in place. I should get my parachute ready which is my insurances, my risk management plan. I should then asset allocate as you talk about your oil man – “don’t go broke money.” I’d make sure I have enough to live my life without going broke. And then, with extra money, if I can do it, then stage three. The problem is it takes so long to build stage one to stage two, the people don’t want to do it that way, and so we end up risking everything and the sad news is most people aren’t successful when you do just stage three.

ROGER: You use some examples of that and Donald Trump is a wonderful one where everybody thinks that he is this outrageous success, and he is very successful, but he has fallen into bankruptcy numerous times. He’s defaulted on debts numerous times. Walt Disney, you use as another example, and I think there are countless examples of those that have failed and triumphed, and then there’s millions of bodies that have failed and never triumphed that have tried this.

JOE: Well, one of my favorite stories, Roger, is Walt Disney in a golf cart, driving around the brand new Disneyland in the 1950s, and nobody knew if Disneyland was going to be successful. I mean, the idea of charging an arm and a leg to get into a theme park when everybody thought it was just a glorified carnival. I mean, what the heck is this, right? And he’s driving around with his engineer and his engineer, you know, the paper is ripping them, they’re colossally over budget. The engineering firm has already not been paid; instead, they agreed to get more of the profits instead of being paid. So, the chief engineer, riding around with Walt, the day before, it looks like they’re not even ready for opening, the chief engineer says to Walt, “Well, what happens if nobody comes? What happens?” I mean, to use our stage one, stage two, stage three analogy, Roger, he’s saying, “What if we die?” All of a sudden, he’s nine-tenths of the way to Mars and he’s turning to Walt Disney and saying, “What if we die?” You know, it’s probably a little late, by the way.

ROGER: Yeah.

JOE: Walt turns to him and you know what Walt says? Walt says, “Well, then we go bankrupt, and I’ve been bankrupt before and it’s no big deal.”

ROGER: That’s a very scary way to live, though.

JOE: Well, right. For 99.9 percent of the people listening to this podcast, going bankrupt is a big deal. It’s a huge deal! Walt Disney, imagine just the horror Walt Disney took his family through time and time again as things didn’t work. And so, yeah, Walt Disney built this empire but, like you said, it was not a road most of us want to go down.

ROGER: I love the way that you, and I didn’t expect this pivot when I was reading your white paper as well from the gurus to these stage one, stage two, stage three, but I think it fits really well. So, when someone is out there listening to gurus, I guess, this is a framework for them to think about. “Okay. Am I in this stage right now?” or “Should I be going to the appropriate stage?” Is that one of the lessons that comes from this?

JOE: Yeah, lesson number one is to literally think about “Where am I? Am I on the launch pad? Am I somebody who has the launch pad figured out and now I’m on that second-stage rocket and I’m trying to make sure that I’ve got all of my bases covered and I can live this beautiful life that most of us dream about?” Most of us dream about a stage two life, right? I mean, that is the American dream. And then, if I have those covered, “Is stage three for me?” or, if I’m really thinking about stage three, “What are the holes in stage one and stage two that I can’t or that I haven’t covered?” and you really have two choices, Roger. You can (1) cover them and that’s going to cost you a lot of time because – I acknowledge in the white paper and I’ll tell you right here – getting the full stage two beautiful experience is all-consuming, and there’s a lot of people who don’t wish to be Walt Disney that you meet and you say, “What are you doing?” “Well, I retired at 53.” “I retired at 55.” Well, that’s somebody living an awesome stage two lifestyle, right?

ROGER: Right.

JOE: If you can retire at 55, you are living the stage two dream.

ROGER: Now, I have to tell you, I had a meeting with a client on Friday and she had such a great quote. She is a definite stage two-er. I was sitting there with her husband and she had been retired for, I think, four months now and she goes, “You know, Roger, I think I was born to be retired.”

JOE: Yeah.

ROGER: I was like, “That’s beautiful.” She was so happy. But that’s a definite stage two-er – no desire to go beyond that.

JOE: Yes, yeah. And some of the awesome strategies out there are great. Asset allocation is a beautiful stage two strategy that will get you there and keep you there. Tax strategies – which you and I find very sexy and fun – those are stage two techniques that are just great. I love them. Selectively using insurances in a risk management scenario where we’re not using life insurance or any type of insurance for everything; we’re actually thinking bigger about risks. “Where are our risks?” and deciding which risks we take ourselves and which ones we give to an insurance company because it’s either too big or we just can’t handle it. Those strategies really excite me and those are all stage two.

So, anyway, back to my original, I think you have to see where you’re at and then see, if I’m going to stage three, where my holes are in stage one and stage two, and I either (1) have to acknowledge my holes because I think that’s what a lot of entrepreneurs end up doing, right? They end up saying, “I know I have a hole here and I know I have a hole there but you know what? I acknowledge that risk and I think, as a former financial planner, getting my client to just acknowledge what the risk was that we were taking was awesome because, when it hit the fan – and it will hit the fan – knowing how it hit the fan and why it hit the fan is half of us, you know, still winning. So, in Apollo 13, to continue my geeky analogy, in Apollo 13, you know, Tom Hanks, “Houston, we have a problem,” they know what the problem is, they know why they have a problem, and now, because of that, they know exactly what the strategy is they’re going to use to fix it. In last year’s movie, Gravity, it’s the same thing. They know why they have a problem and then, you know, piece by piece, they’re trying to duct tape the situation to get it.

The problem I see with stage three is somebody who’s there and they don’t know where the holes are and then, all of a sudden, something bad happens and then – guess what – they are just flat-footed, no idea how to respond, and that is a horrible place to be.

ROGER: I imagine, I think, from a financial perspective, if you’re very comfortable stage two, you can take those calculated risks out into stage three and still have – I’ll continue with your geeky metaphor – still have enough fuel to get you home safely if it all falls apart.

A good example might be – and I see this poll every now and then – are individuals that are retired wanting to start a small business or wanting to invest in a small business. That’s a stage three type of activity and you may be able to do it, but only in a measured way. So, you don’t just blow all your fuel, shooting for the moon; you work to get there but know that you can get back home if it all falls apart.

JOE: Yes, correct.

ROGER: Oh, good. I was hoping I would get that right.

JOE: Amen.

ROGER: All right, awesome.

So, now, Joe, where can we find your white paper and more information about your awesome Stacking Benjamins podcast? It really is my favorite.

JOE: Thanks, man! So, our podcast you can find wherever you download podcasts. I think we’re pretty much everywhere, just like the Retirement Answer Man podcast, and we have this awesome episode, by the way, with this crazy man named Roger Whitney on it around Halloween which was fantastic. That was one of our most downloaded episodes, and you and I had fun. Talk about geeking out there! We were geeking out about scary movies.

ROGER: That was fun, actually. That was my favorite interview that was a lot of fun, and very helpful, I think.

JOE: Well, thanks. But, as you know, Roger, our goal with our podcast, your goal with your podcast is to help people retire successfully; our goal is to never help anybody ever.

ROGER: You set the bar high. I love that.

JOE: Well, some people think it’s crazy to make money this light topic, right? Our point with Stacking Benjamins is it’s been too heavy for some people for too long so let’s just bring things out into the light. We’re all making the same mistakes so our podcast is much more about conversations. It’s an ADD podcast; what I mean by that is, even though it’s an hour long, it’s separated into segments. So, if you don’t like one topic, just wait a few minutes because we’ll be on to a different topic, and we have round table discussions and crazy guests like Roger Whitney, and we have trivia – some fairly dorky trivia. At the end of every episode, we talk about movies because my partner, OG and I, we like talking about movies.

ROGER: Good reason.

JOE: Yeah, we talk about financial headlines, all the sexiness going on in the financial news world like, you know, when one of the big managers at a fund family called PIMCO left. So, all these things that you might read in the financial headlines and, really, what you should make of them from a more practical standpoint; we read the financial page and I know my wife, she picks up the financial pages and then she puts them down because she doesn’t know what to make of it. So, if you want to pick up the financial pages and go, “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard of that before,” well, that’s more what we do on Stacking Benjamins.

ROGER: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun and, you won’t realize it, you’ll actually learn something even if you don’t want to which is cool.

JOE: And it’s crazy.

ROGER: I know.

JOE: It’s crazy talk, Roger. And then, the white paper, if you just go to stackingbenjamins.com/guru, you can get the white paper. And you know what I did, Roger? I put a page together just for the Retirement Answer Man listeners that will dig in more into retirement planning topics that we’ve had on the podcast and on the blog. We’ve got a great blog with Shannon McLay who is a financial advisor and I wrote on the blog. So, I put some posts that more fit your audience. If you go to stackingbenjamins.com/answerman, you will find a page that’s all the stuff that listeners to your podcast would like. By the way, a link to the white paper will be there, too.

ROGER: Okay. Now, I have to say something. Fellow listeners, please, at least click on the link because he’s going to track this and I don’t want him to see that I have two listeners. You don’t have to do anything on there. Just click on the link so he can see that I have somebody listening out there.

JOE: You really don’t have to.

ROGER: In fact, let’s crash his site! No, we won’t.

JOE: That would be great! Let’s pretend Joe’s SONY.

ROGER: Yeah, there you go. Joe, thank you so much for coming on the show. I will have those links in the show notes. As always, I enjoy talking with you.

JOE: Thanks a ton, Roger. This was a blast.

ROGER: Well, thank you for joining me for this Christmas Eve edition of the Retirement Answer Man.

If you have an interest in signing up for the weekly updates and worksheets and tutorials for the Retirement Plan Live event, you can go to rogerwhitney.com/44 to sign up for those updates or stay tuned because, in just a few days, I’ll have a special extra podcast to give you all the details and you can hear an interview with Carl and what we’re hoping to accomplish with this project for 2015.

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday!

Until next time, this is Roger Whitney hoping that you plan well and invest wisely.


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