Many websites and financial professionals touting retirement savings plans offer little more than off-the-shelf plans that express the end result as a dollar amount. Generally, the instructions for achieving the goal are common sense—such as: max out your 401(k) contributions, invest your money wisely, create a budget and live within your means. A key ingredient often missing is the very personal and unique part of the plan that recognizes and honors your vision of retirement. You can save for a target amount, but in the end, it’s an arbitrary number unless you know you are saving for the life you want.
“Saving for Retirement: Never Too Early, Never Too Late” was the topic at The Women’s Roundtable June 25 wine and cheese gathering at Bell Investment Advisors. While the discussion included the obligatory checklist (e.g., “maximize your 401k contributions…check!”; “don’t leave any employer matching contributions on the table…check!”), what resonated most with the group were the personal stories of women who put their retirement dreams to the test with a customized financial plan.
An example was Nancy, a life-long saver, who has contributed the maximum amount allowed to her retirement account. She received a contribution from her employer each year. She was also able to put away excess cash into her savings account each month. She could see her savings balances increase each month, yet she was not sure when, or if, she could retire. In the end, adding up all the numbers gave her just a number, not a plan.
When Nancy signed up for financial planning, the exercise began with her vision of retirement, not with a photo of a beach or a woman taking an art class, or someone else’s dream of retirement. Her plan focused on the life she wanted to live. Her financial plan was grounded with the real goal of creating the life she envisioned. Certainly the success of Nancy’s plan was dependent on the amount she had saved for retirement, but what she found in the process was:
- She is a great saver but keeping too much in cash.
- She needed to put her money to work more productively.
- She saw the importance of seeking investment advice, as in other areas of her life, from a professional.
- The life she envisioned in retirement required a specific income that was attainable if she stayed true to her plan.
So, what’s your story? Are you ready to stop wondering, and hoping you can retire? Join us at the next gathering of The Women’s Roundtable this fall, and take charge of your financial future.
“The Women’s Roundtable: Taking Charge of Your Financial Future” September 24.
6 – 7:30 pm at the Oakland office of Bell Investment Advisors, 1111 Broadway, Oakland, above the 12th Street BART station. For more information about The Women’s Roundtable and how to register for the wine and cheese gathering, click here.