But as your financial mom, I’m not just concerned with my Panthers winning (which they will), I also want to see you win in your version of the Super Bowl -- your retirement planning. Here are a few coaching tips from the Panthers to help you on your personal road to victory.
Build a Great Team
As an observer of the sport, it’s easy to get caught up in what you see on Sunday afternoons and forget about the countless hours that go into getting ready for game day. There is training camp, the pre-season, the regular season, the playoffs, and finally, the Super Bowl. And this high-level view doesn’t even touch on the day-to-day planning that goes into preparing for each opponent.
You can look at your retirement strategy in the same way, as you won’t just arrive at a worry-free retirement without some prior planning. The simple truth is, the only way to win in both football and your financial future, is to build a great team that can put strategies in place, long before you reach the big game.
In football, this is the responsibility of the head coach. His job is to devise the strategy that gives the team the best chance to succeed. He then discusses his plan with the position coaches who ensure that each player knows their responsibilities and is in the best position for the entire team to succeed.
This is similar to the approach that you should take with your retirement planning strategy.
The difference is, you are the head coach of your retirement plan and your earning years are the ‘pre-season’ leading up to your Super Bowl run. This is your opportunity to get comfortable with your ‘coaching staff’ -- (i.e., financial planner, insurance agent, tax planner and attorney). These are the people on your team that will help you draw up the plays to accumulate the assets needed to win long-term. That type of familiarity doesn’t just happen when the game is on the line. You must identify the key pieces of your team and begin cultivating those relationships now!
Use Players Wisely
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a great player. In fact, he’s one of the best pure receivers in the league. And while he is a large part of the team’s overall success, his chief responsibility is to do one thing -- catch the ball. Nothing more, nothing less.
On the other hand, you have Cam Newton -- arguably the best player in the National Football League. He is a tremendous athlete, very versatile. He can throw the ball, runs well and can contribute at a high level in many facets of the game.
When it comes to retirement planning, it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of a product that seemingly does everything well. Not that there is anything wrong with such a product, but retirement planning is a broad term and sometimes you need a product that just does one thing -- like a savings account.
In the same way that Greg Olsen would likely not win a Super Bowl title without a little help from Cam Newton, you don’t only want to rely on products that have a singular focus. Sometimes you need something more complex, like an annuity. The key takeaway is to know what options are available, and when to best use each option for optimum success.
One Game at a Time
If you’ve ever listened to a post-game interview, you’ve undoubtedly heard the players state the phrase ‘one game at a time.’ This is not just an important philosophy for success on the playing field, but it also rings true for other areas of life as well.
By taking it ‘one game at a time’ you are consciously focusing on the task at hand in an effort to avoid getting ahead of yourself. In sports, this helps avoid injury and increases your likelihood of success. In mapping out your retirement strategy, planning ahead helps take away the worry of tomorrow.
So to you, that might mean contributing to your 401(k) now. Or maybe your 401(k) is maxed out and you could benefit from increasing your emergency savings balance. Maybe you’re close to retirement and your ‘one game at a time’ is to calculate your Social Security payout. No matter what retirement planning stage you’re in, the idea remains the same -- take care of what you need to today and tomorrow will inevitably take care of itself.
If you’ve ever seen a Panthers game, you’ll notice how Cam gives the football to a kid when the team makes a touchdown. Ever see the excitement on the child’s face? In the big picture - the football costs nothing. It’s the giving that he is known for.
Many people get so caught up in the accumulation phase of retirement that they don’t even consider that generosity also plays a large part in the equation. But the reality is, you can, and should give of yourself, even in retirement.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
When you retire, you have the opportunity to explore different interests and passions without the constraints of a 9 to 5 job. With an arsenal of new skills and new found freedom, you’re in a unique position to share those talents with others by simply giving of yourself whenever you’re given the chance. And, like the football that Cam gives out after touchdowns, it costs you nothing.
As “Riverboat Ron” Rivera and the rest of the team have shown; it is possible to achieve success by taking calculated risks, and limiting unnecessary gambles. You can experience the same success in your personal Super Bowl by following the Panthers blueprint. Even though it won’t happen overnight, by following these steps to stay on track; you can “do the dab” when you turn in your resignation and head off into your worry-free retirement!
Pamela J. Horack, CFP® of Pathfinder Planning LLC provides personal financial planning advice for a simple fee to young adults and working families in North and South Carolina through group classes, one-on-one planning, and ongoing advice.