We Are Not Doomed: Preparing For Retirement

by: Roger Nusbaum

There was a lot of American Way of Life Doom on the internet yesterday. First was Why the Middle Class is Doomed by Charles Hugh Smith, then Retirement May Be Mission Impossible for Generation X and finally 10 More Years of Low Stock Market Returns.

Some will refer to these types of posts as fear mongering. I think I may have been called a fear monger in a recent post in stating that I do not believe my wife and I will get social security. This might be one way to look at it but I think there is a more productive way to come at this.

I stumbled across a good way to articulate why I don't expect to get social security in the comments of a syndicated post at Seeking Alpha. Occam's razor; it is the simplest explanation given the current numbers, the likelihood that analysts will underestimate the problem and that the political cycle is not conducive to long term problem solving.

The above paragraph will either be right or wrong but I think it lays out a base case for what could go wrong with social security. Likewise the arguments in the above three articles also contribute to a base case of what could go wrong or maybe it is better to see these are some of the obstacles that people will face with retirement planning. The three articles address societal problems, unfortunate timing and what could be a lousy market for quite a few more years.

You might read all three and draw the same conclusions, draw completely different conclusions or agree with only certain parts, but the three combine to spell out the obstacles we are going to face. The articles explain these obstacles such that I think they promote understanding of what could go wrong for people. If you understand what could go wrong then you have a better chance of overcoming those obstacles.

You might believe social security will be there for you with no problems but certainly it cannot be a black swan for anyone if benefits get radically reduced.

From there, going about creating a solution in case the above scenarios do play out becomes at least a little easier. The context of my past posts has been to get out of debt, save more, live below your means, understand that certain foreign markets will offer close to normal returns, monetize a hobby as a post retirement income stream and anything else you want to add to the list.

One of the knocks against using a financial advisor is that no one cares more about your financial situation than you do. And while I think a good advisor will care a lot about his clients' financial situations, in a similar vein no one will care more about your own unique solution more than you.

This has been an ongoing theme on my site from the beginning and will continue to be so. It is an important topic, interesting to write about and will get more important and more interesting.