Most people donâ€™t plan to fail;
They fail to plan.
This slogan is not only a great marketing concept for a national insurance company; it is also the sad truth. Everybody has bills to pay. Learning to budget in order to pay those bills is not always easy. Finding room in that budget for retirement planning is sometimes very hard to do, yet it is essential. Unfortunately, it is the first thing dropped when the budget stretches thin.
Proponents of financial planning will tell you that you may need a written financial plan. This plan may be used as a tool to sell you insurance but it will also outline for you where you are spending your money and how much of what you earn is used to pay for your house, car, consumer debt, insurance, and savings. Knowing what your financial needs are is key to keeping them protected.
The idea of being debt free and financially independent by the time you retire is only a dream for far too many people. Why? Because they failed to plan or perhaps, failed to stick with the plan. Given the economics of today, we sure shouldnâ€™t count on Social Security to provide us with anything more than the bare minimum. Life expectancy is growing and your retirement savings may need to stretch for many years. Retirement planning starts years before the goal of retirement is achieved. This planning needs to begin when the family is just starting out and when the need for protection is the greatest.
It is called the theory of decreasing responsibility. When you are young, and have small children, chances are that you have a high balance due on your mortgage and probably some consumer debt like a car payment and credit cards. So the need for protecting your main asset is very high, your main asset being you. Loss of income at this stage would be devastating. In these early years, you may not have a lot of money for the â€˜what ifsâ€™ of life. So insurance is required to properly protect your family from a spiraling circle of debt if the unthinkable were to happen. We donâ€™t need insurance just to pay funeral costs; we need insurance to cover our loss and in this case, we are talking about the loss of a parent and the loss of income. Saving for retirement may be at the bottom of your list of priorities at this age but it needs to be on the list.
As you age, your responsibility decreases; your house is paid for or almost paid for, your kids grown, and your consumer debt is lower. So your insurance needs drop tremendously and those savings, which you have tucked away for years and years, are now ready to provide you with a retirement income.
You may ask how to achieve such a great plan. Well, a good start may be with the insurance you buy. The monthly cost of a whole life policy is enough to cover the cost of a term policy and a savings plan. With a whole life plan, the insurance company obviously insures you, and they will also invest your money in a fund for you, paying you a set interest rate from the growth of that fund. With a term plan, you pay a much lower premium for more coverage and you invest the difference yourself, say in a mutual fund, then you get to keep it all, setting yourself up with a nice little nest egg at retirement.
Starting this in your 20â€™s or 30â€™s keeps the premium low and provides the best chance at having your money grow. Without sounding like an insurance salesman, these policies are now offered for 35 years. If you started one at age 30, you would be 65 at the end of the term, and wouldnâ€™t need to renew your policy at all. Why? Because you would have 35 years of savings ready for your retirement. Savings that could have you retiring with over a million dollars at age 65. Itâ€™s true, for example, if you invested $200 every month, in a mutual fund averaging 12%, at the end of those 35 years, it is possible, for you to have grown your money to; are you ready for this? $1.3 million!
Saving money in the bank has been stressed for decades but is it really the best place to grow money? Banks, if youâ€™re lucky, may pay out 3%, and that $200 a month you are saving will give you $148,680 after 35 years. That great whole life insurance plan that has an investment feature built right into it, may offer you a 6% interest rate for a total pay out of $286,370. They will take your $200 a month; invest it in a higher yielding fund averaging 12%. Sure, they will pay you your 3% or 6%, but guess what they do with the rest of it. They keep it.
Finding the right investments are crucial. The power of compounded interest can not be ignored. Investment options and interest rates are tricky waters to wade through and professionals may be a tremendous help. A 6 % return on your money may sound like a great idea until you hear about compound interest and a rate of 12%. The point here is, it is all about choices. They are all yours to make. However, knowing what those choices are and how to make them work for you are the fundamental steps that youâ€™ll need to take to reach your goal of financial independence.
Recent surveys by theÂ Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Watson Wyatt have found that an increasing number of employees plan to delay their planned retirement. Of those now age 50-64, more than half plan to work at least three years more than they previously expected – past age 65 in most cases. Presenters at a recent Business Insurance Webinar reported that between 2006 and 2016 there will be an 83% growth in the number of workers age 65 or more in the workplace, and that they will account for 6.5% of work hours in the U. S. by that time.
My 79-year-old widowed mother has a part-time job aiding elderly people in their homes. I used to be amused by saying that; I mean, 79 is elderly, isn’t it?
The fact is, her paid work is a mere four hours a week, a small piece of her portfolio of several self-chosen activities which keep her vibrantly engaged with life. My mom is an admirable example of the “new old.”
But I’m no longer amused at the irony of her employment since I read about an 89-year-old former airline pilot who works 25 hours or more a week helping older adults find jobs. Yikes!
Meanwhile, following this great generation are baby boomers bracing for a future that will have them working beyond the standard retirement age. If it looks like you’ll be working into your 60s, 70s or beyond, here’s a twist on telecommuting that can give you a retirement vibe without retiring.
Try telecommuting as a way to get out of town and still earn a living.
Am I suggesting you take your laptop computer on your vacation? No, not that. Definitely not!
Instead, consider a seasonal escape where you do your usual work in the salubrious setting of your choice for six to eight weeks.
Imagine the following temporary work set-ups (but not all three, of course!):
â€¢ February and March at your South Carolina condo
â€¢ June and July at a vacation rental in Idaho or Ireland
â€¢ Thanksgiving through New Year’s at your son’s home in another state
Sounds lovely, you say? But how is it possible? I’ve outlined 5 steps, below.
This flexible work life tactic assumes you are a “knowledge worker,” i.e., a professional who commutes daily to reach a computer and a phone to do your job. We’ll turn it around so that the laptop and phone goes to the worker (you) instead.
It’s a progression of steps over six months.
Why not start today?
STEP 1: Change your thinking about how your job gets done.
Begin to recognize that you can work from anywhere. This may be a new idea for you so the biggest obstacles are probably in your mind. (We’ll deal with your manager separately.)
Most telecommuters work remotely one to three days a week. While not widespread, there are employees who work full time from home. Your intended gig is working full time from (a temporary, faraway) home for only a season.
STEP 2: Arrange to telecommute from your home.
First, redesign your job into telecommuting.
Don’t be put off if there are some job tasks that you can’t imagine being done from thousands of miles away. We’ll get to that further down.
Set up remote access to your work computer through your employer’s network or using remote access software.
Over a period of weeks, work an hour or so on a few job tasks in the evening or a Saturday from home. Don’t make it a habit; your goal is to prove to yourself-and eventually your manager-that you can perform your job well from home.
After you’ve proven to yourself it can be done, present a proposal to your manager to work from home two or three days of each five-day workweek.
Assuming approval of your request (most long-term, trusted employees get the green light for at least a trial period), you’ll move to Step 3.
STEP 3: Nudge telecommuting from home up to the next level.
After three months of telecommuting two or three days a week, request to work four days a week from home.
STEP 4: Arrange an in-person meeting with your manager to assess your telecommuting arrangement.
Your mission is to gauge your manager’s true comfort and confidence level about your work set-up.
With six months or more of solid telecommuting experience, you will have likely improved your output. Most remote workers see double-digit productivity increases; with fewer interruptions and no socializing, what’s to do but work?
This foundation, paired with your positioning as a reliable, well-performing employee your manager doesn’t want to lose (right?), sets you up to get approval of your request.
Yet, you need to get a clearer view of the situation from your manager’s perspective.
Is your he or she blown away at your productivity output (at which time you can reinforce the value of remote work and how it adds to your job satisfaction and achievements)?
Or is your manager suggesting that four days a week working away from the office is excessive?
What else? Listen carefully (especially between the lines). Do a subtle probe of the attitude environment so you can figure your next move.
STEP 5: Request your seasonal remote work arrangement.
Based on the outcome of Step 4, you’ll know (or sense) if and when it’s a wise move to go forward with your request.
Let’s say you have a good vibe about it and you’re planning to ask.
Make your request at least two months before your anticipated start date; given approval, you’ll need the time to make travel and accommodation arrangements.
Ask for eight weeks of long-distance telecommuting so you have room to negotiate for fewer.
If you meet little resistance and you really only want three to six weeks, confirm your travel arrangements first, then immediately alert your manager to the adjusted dates.
Fine-Tune Step 2
Looking back at Step 2, are there job tasks that can not be performed from a remote location? Let’s tackle that issue by considering the possibilities.
Could those particular job tasks:
â€¢ be skipped during the weeks that you’re away from the office?
â€¢ be deferred until your return?
â€¢ be delegated?
â€¢ be done in a collaborative way via telework tools?
â€¢ be given work-around treatment*?
If you’ve set up a job sharing arrangement, Step Two has fewer obstacles.
*Imagine you had to take several weeks of FMLA leave to be with your elderly parent in a faraway state during his or her hip replacement surgery, rehab and recuperation. Beyond your ability to access your office computer from your parent’s home to do some work, how would you and your employer manage the other aspects of your job? There’s no perfect solution, but there’s usually a work-it-out solution. Think in those terms.
Make it Happen
Is this an unusual arrangement? Yes.
Is it really possible? Yes, if you follow the steps above over a sufficient chunk of time, you may be surprised at the flexible work lifestyle you can craft for yourself that has hints of a retirement vibe.
Flexible work adviser and pay raise coach Pat Katepoo equips career professionals to negotiate for more time and money at their current job. Will your boss say YES to your request for a flexible work arrangement? Find out using this quick 3-question quiz. Find more tools and tactics for a flexible work life after 50 at WorkOptions.com.