Small Steps

This morning, I was reading an online article about simple ways to increase retirement savings.  I started thinking about how to express this to our ERISA/401k plan participants and figuring out a new way to educate them on the importance of saving for their future.  I’m fearful that some have determined in their mind that a secure future is something unobtainable, while others realizing that there’s not enough money to live on. 

My desire for our ERISA clients and plan participants is greater confidence in their ability to accomplish their retirement goal.  We’ve attempted to remove indecision that can arise from creating one’s investment allocation from the line of funds by offering mutual fund models.  We have also ensured that there are financial planning tools and calculators on the Third Party Administrator’s website (for our Daily Valuation plans) that helps to inform the participant about how much money needs to be saved each month.  However, these tools and resources will not overcome indecision.  That is why we also go one step further and provide ongoing education to the participants of these plans.  Herein lies my most sincere desire:  That participants make a choice and take action to move one step closer to a comfortable retirement.  Any journey starts with one step and each successive step gets progressively easier. 

Regarding the article: One of the things we have employed in our retirement plan education meetings are “Simple Solutions”.  These are simple ways of carving money out from our household budget to increase our savings rate.  For instance, I frequently tell plan participants about my coffee and muffin run to the local grocery store and how I would share the muffin with my then 3 year old daughter.  As the story goes, I explain that an intern (now full time Financial Advisor at Parsec and CFP® candidate) helped to make me realize how much money I was spending over the course of 25 years.  I was shocked at the expense and immediately changed my spending habits.  What’s interesting to me is that prior to this conversation, I thought it was a nice daddy-daughter treat.  However, I quickly realized two things:  The seemingly small expense added up to significant sums of money over time.  Also, that an extra cup of coffee and breakfast at home would go a lot further for building memories with my daughter. 

I believe we have the capacity to save something.  Often times, a small step in the right direction is all that is needed to overcome the hurdle.  For others, online calculators and financial planning tools are motivating, as they give the sense of speed and direction.

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Neal Nolan

Director of ERISA  

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