Amidst the recent coverage of Hurricane Isaac, I was reminded that it was only a year ago that Hurricane Irene came barreling up the East Coast. We had just deposited my youngest off for his first semester of college, and then spent the drive home up the East Coast with Irene (and the reports of her potential destruction and probable landfalls) close behind. We arrived home, unloaded in record time, and went straight to the local hardware store to stock up for the coming storm.
We weren’t the only ones to do so, of course. And what we had most hoped to
acquire (a generator) was not to be found—there, or at that moment, apparently
anywhere in the state.
Life is full of uncertainty, and events and circumstances, as often as not,
happen with little, if any warning. However, hurricanes you can see coming a
long way off. There’s always the chance that they will peter out sooner than
expected, that landfall will result in a dramatic shift in course and/or
intensity, or that, as with Hurricane Katrina, the real impact is what happens
afterward. In theory, at least, that provides time to prepare—but, as I was
reminded a year ago, sometimes you don’t have time enough.
I suppose a lot of retirement plan participants are going to look back at
their working lives that way as they near the threshold of retirement. They’ll
likely remember the admonitions about saving sooner, saving more, and the
importance of regular, prudent reallocations of investment portfolios.
Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) has, for years now, chronicled not only the
current state of retirement unpreparedness of many, but their awareness of the
need to be more attentive to those preparations. Sure, you can find yourself
forced suddenly into an unplanned retirement—in fact, retiree respondents to the
RCS have long indicated that they stopped working sooner than they had planned.¹
But most of us have plenty of time, both to see that day coming, and to do
something about it.
Ultimately, of course, what matters isn’t the time you have, it’s what you
do² with it.
Nevin E. Adams, JD
¹ Twenty-five percent of workers in the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey say
the age at which they expect to retire has changed in the past year. In 1991, 11
percent of workers said they expected to retire after age 65, and by 2012 that
more than tripled, to 37 percent. Those expectations notwithstanding, half of
current retirees surveyed say they left the work force unexpectedly due to
health problems, disability, or changes at their employer, such as downsizing or
closure (see “The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey: Job Insecurity, Debt Weigh
on Retirement Confidence, Savings,” online
² A great place to start those preparations is to figure out what you’ll
need, as millions of Americans have with the BallparkE$timate,® developed by the
research team at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and available online here.
Additionally, a wide variety of free tools and innovative resources,
including free videos that can be used to share key savings messages with
participants, is available here.