Aftershock Retirement and Estate Planning

Retirement means different things to different people—tarpon fishing in Aruba, 18 holes every day before lunch, finally having the time to learn Spanish—but in financial terms there’s only one real definition: no more upside income potential. As long as you’re working, you have the power to increase your income, by getting a promotion or a raise, or changing companies or even careers. But on the day you leave the workforce, you’re limited to whatever you’ve managed to save by that point, and a stream of essentially fixed income. (For the record, the numbers on retirement savings are pretty dismal. Among people ages 50 to 59, the median retirement savings is just $29,000. How long could you get by on that amount?)

That’s why it’s so crucial to plan for retirement, whether it’s 5 years away or 35 years. For those who are nearing retirement or already retired, the information in previous chapters may seem daunting. But don’t panic. You can still do plenty to protect yourself—and even come out more comfortable than you would have before—by adopting an Aftershock approach to your retirement.

We need to stress again that set-it-and-forget-it investing does not work for retirement anymore. For years, people have been told to just put their money in stocks and bonds and don’t worry about it. We’ve already seen some retirement accounts get hammered in 2008–2009 due to this strategy, but the future is going to be much, much worse for people ...

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