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The Key to Successful Retirement Planning

Flexibility should be the watchword when it comes to future finances.

Dan Danford, 02/28/2008

The post-World War II baby boom is becoming a post-millennium retirement boom.

This is a critical social and financial point. Many people gather retirement information from trusted friends who've already done it, and that can be a disastrous mistake. Grandma and grandpa put all their savings in bank certificates of deposit, and that was probably okay when the typical retirement lasted five to 10 years. Today's retiree faces a completely different challenge and a broad array of new investment products and ideas.

The prevailing theme for future retirement planning should be flexibility.

To illustrate, think back on the past 30 years of your life. How much change have you endured? Family. Friends. Profession. Geography. Technology. Would you be content living on the same salary you earned in 1978? The same car? The same house? Now look to 2038. Are you willing to lock in financial solutions today? Even the very best products in today's marketplace are likely to evolve/improve dramatically over the next 30 years.

It strikes me that many baby-boomers seek a concrete "answer" to their retirement issues. They want questionnaires, spreadsheets, calculators, and--finally--a specific number or solution for their own situation.

It's especially fascinating because these tools are readily available. These are the tools of financial planning and most of them can be found on any good financial Web site and/or a local library. Competent advisors can prepare an extremely detailed report on these exact and other related issues. It's not rocket science, and it's not a secret technology. But, it's also not a concrete solution.

Most people don't fully appreciate the complexity involved, and, therefore, the folly of concrete answers.

First of all, there are at least three huge retirement questions without accurate data:

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