When I advise my clients about their retirement, I can’t just focus on asking them, “How much are you saving?” or “Do you think you are conservative or aggressive?” These are questions to be addressed.
However, a couple’s retirement is dependent on a few other financial disciplines that are interconnected with retirement planning to flesh out the entire discussion. Some have to do with behavior, and others have to do with prudent planning. Life has a way of throwing different barbs at us, and we must be cognizant of how these life risks affect our retirement planning.
Life Risk 1: Being a slave to debt.
If a couple stays healthy, living within their means, are good savers and are either out of debt or working diligently to get out of debt, then this couple has a very good chance of having the type of retirement they dream about. However, if they don’t have good spending habits and are constantly enslaved to debt, retirement may be a nightmare instead of the dream they wanted. Knowing the neuroscience behind what makes some people good savers and other good spenders is important. Once they know the triggers that cause them to behave one way or the other, they can start training themselves to either continue to be good savers or to change their habits/addictions they have of constantly spending more money than they have.
Life Risk 2: Developing a serious disease.
I don’t know of a person who can determine whether they will develop a serious disease. The only way I know to help stave off complete financial devastation is to have medical insurance or, at least, a catastrophic plan. A family cannot let their family be exposed to this risk without this type of coverage. Everyone gets sick or hurt, some more severely than others, so it is incumbent on us that we plan this risk away to the extent we can for the sake of our spouse and children.
Life Risk 3: Becoming disabled.
It is my professional and humble opinion that people should not start investing until they procure a personal disability policy or at least get covered under their company’s group disability plan. A person’s retirement depends on income and, if the income stops because of sickness or an accident, the retirement savings stops also.
If the disability lasts a lifetime or even an extended period, there is no other way to stave off financial ruin than having a replacement of income, and that is exactly what a disability policy would provide.
While the benefit may not allow enough income replacement to save toward retirement, it may be enough so that money isn’t being pulled out of the retirement savings already accumulated. The benefit may help to maintain paying everyday expenses without going into debt, missing payments or dipping into retirement savings (on which taxes will be, and penalties may be, assessed).