All our working lives, we dream of what we’ll do with the money we’ve saved and the…
Every once in a while, you hear someone say something so succinct and spot-on, you’re darn near convinced you should frame it and hang it on the wall. This one comes courtesy of Morgan Housel, the author of The Psychology of Money and former columnist for The Motley Fool and The Wall Street Journal. In an interview with The Prof G Pod podcast, this is how Morgan summed up the ideal retirement goal for anyone over the age of 40:
“The objective is not to get rich; it’s to not get poor.”
Talk about a mic drop moment. That one little gem of advice sums up everything you need to know about a sound retirement strategy. Seriously.
You see, Wall Street would have you believe that in order to truly be comfortable in your golden years, you should be playing the stock market like it’s your job. In fact, you may have heard friends say their advisors recommend not touching their principal and instead living off just the interest. That sounds nice in theory, but the problem is it gamifies your retirement savings. Gamble more to spend more. The higher the return, the better we’ll be living!
Unfortunately, chasing arbitrary returns isn’t the secret to feeling comfortable in retirement. There’s always the risk that instead of winning big, you’ll lose everything. Not to mention it keeps you on a constant hamster wheel, chasing stock market FOMO. Isn’t the point of retirement to finally stop working so hard? The true secret to feeling comfortable in retirement is knowing that your money is secure and will last. And yes, that means spending some of the principal without guilt.
We often meet retirees who are terrified to spend what they saved. The best remedy for the fear is to give them a tent. Now this isn’t a literal camp-in-the woods tent, though figuratively speaking it does help shelter your money from the elements. We’re talking about a retirement tent, an exercise we do every year with our clients to model their spending.
As a starting point, we take your expenses from the prior year and project what your savings would look like over the remainder of your life expectancy if you continued to spend that same amount each year. We factor in a range of investment return scenarios– everything from 0% to 7%– so you can get an idea of how your money might perform.
Even with a conservative return of 4-5%, most clients are shocked to find out that they really can have a good retirement without subjecting their savings to risky investments. Better yet, they are less likely to run out of money. The tent’s modeling provides the data they need to know they’ll be covered (yes, even if they spend some principal). There’s no guessing or gambling; just good old knowledge.
So, go ahead and change your aspirations. Because as it turns out, the secret to a great retirement isn’t striking it rich. Instead, it’s being rich in confidence.
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