Navigating the Road to Retirement
It was raining as I drove to meet my family for dinner. As I approached an intersection on Granada Boulevard, a driver decided to exit a turn lane and pulled out very slowly in front of several cars, including mine. The car ahead of me squealed its brakes and wiggled from side to side. Instinctively, I stomped on my brakes. There was no collision yet – but when I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw a small car coming up fast behind me. The sight was confusing; the car’s airbags were unfurling like a couple of popcorn kernels bursting in slow motion. I looked forward again and saw the car in front of me moving forward. For a millisecond I had hope. My foot jumped from the brake to the accelerator and I thought I might be able to escape the “popcorn car” bearing down on me. There wasn’t enough time. The impact felt like a sledge hammer being swung at my back bumper. My car lurched forward and, since the car in front of me had moved on (thankfully), my vehicle continued on its original path. I pulled over to assess the damage. The rear bumper bore the brunt of the vehicular assault, but it did its job and I was okay. When I located the other driver, I understood what had happened. Another car failed to brake in time and had hit the popcorn car from behind. That’s what had deployed his airbags and launched him into my vehicle.
As you might expect, I’ve run this incident through my mind many times. Thankfully, only the vehicles suffered damage. There was nothing I could have done differently. Actually, a lot of things were done right: I was wearing my seat belt; I wasn’t distracted by my cellphone or rowdy kids in the backseat; I was driving the speed limit; I wasn’t tired, and I hadn’t had a cocktail before dinner. I also didn’t panic and attempt to veer into the next lane or onto the median. Most importantly, I was paying attention and saw that fickle driver steer his car into my lane.
How does all this apply to your journey on the “road to retirement?” First, make sure your “retirement vehicle” is appropriate for your travels (your investments need to be resilient, like my bumper, to help protect you from large losses). Second, plan your trip and give yourself enough travel time (so you don’t have to “speed up” with risky money choices as you approach retirement). And, third, pay attention to the road – look as far ahead as you can; check your mirrors frequently (monitor your investments closely and often). If you aren’t 100% sure you’re ready for the trip, or if you’ve already had a financial “accident,” I can help with “repairs” or get you on the road with a free 19-point “investment inspection.”