Is Retirement Planning Like Olympic Pentathlon?

Russian gold medalistThe pentathlon consists of five events: fencing, swimming, show jumping and combined running and shooting.  So how is it like retirement planning?  

Well, let’s see:

Fencing. When fencers spar, it’s like investors balancing risk and return in their portfolios. With riskier assets, you get a better return potential. Safer investments help limit your vulnerability in a down market. A sound asset allocation strategy is like the parrying of the contestants…whether to go for broke (literally and figuratively) or balance the attack.

Swimming. The water and the waves in pool lanes create resistance and drag for swimmers. It’s never just smooth as glass when there’s a race on. A person can also experience times of resistance and slowing in his or her portfolio—like during an economic recession or an interest rate hike. The way to get around this is with a diversified portfolio to withstand the waves and to be ready to seize an opportunity when market conditions improve.

Show Jumping. This component of the pentathlon involves jumping over barriers while on horseback, which is no easy task. Obstacles can appear in life beyond market and economic risks that can ruin a well-planned retirement. There are taxes that will be part of your life, and inflation will increase your cost of living over time. Don’t trip over a barrier but rather plan ahead for what might occur.

Foot race. The pentathlon concludes with foot racing and shooting at targets—much like the final stretch that many folks face in the years leading up to retirement. These individuals are trying to save as much as possible. Part of this training requires preparing for potential health care costs in retirement, teaming with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a proper estate plan and including risk management elements in their financial plan.

Even pentathletes take time out to focus on life itself. Don’t get caught up and focus all of your energies entirely on your finances. Remember to think about the reasons why you’re saving and what matters most to you. This can help you stay committed to your long-term goals and make your retirement more enjoyable.

Reference: The Des Moines Register (August 1, 2016) “How the pentathlon reflects retirement planning”


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