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Determine Your Level of Worry

So what are you worried about right now? Your health, your kids, your job, your faith, your marriage, your money, your retirement? Chances are you’re worried about something.

Americans do worry about retirement. Yet the average consumer thinks he or she is the only one who is worried. That’s because his or her neighbors are spending money as if it’s growing on trees. But just because your neighbor appears to have his material act together, that doesn’t mean he isn’t worried.

To understand why so many people are worried about retirement, you have to go to the source of the problem—the tumor, if you will. Retirement is a man-made idea, proposed to Americans some 70 years ago. Prior to that time, there’s no account of people sitting around planning to quit work, mow the lawn every day and play golf for the rest of their lives. People back then didn’t worry about 401(k) plan balances, stock portfolios, mutual funds, and real estate investment trusts, because there was no need to.

You don’t have to buy into the modern-day notion of retirement. In fact, if this notion is creating worry, maybe it’s time to create your own vision of retirement. But first things first. We need to determine your level of worry before we can find a cure for it. The problem is we’re all human. Because we’re human, we want what others want. We don’t want to be the odd man out. If someone says we should stress over retirement, we stress.

Feeling hopeless about today’s version of retirement is a sign that you’ve bought into the myth of retirement. You’ve been sucked into someone else’s vision for your life. When you’re doing something you are uncomfortable with, you’ll worry.

Couples of all ages attempt to control their future by controlling their money. It’s an impossible task. There are too many variables to consider. Interest rates fluctuate, kids get sick, parents get sick, the market goes up, the market goes down, health care costs keep rising, and people don’t know exactly when they are going to die. And today’s baby boomers? Their money seems to disappear as fast as they make it. Their 401(k)s are less this year than they were three years ago, and the kids’ college accounts have enough money to last about two semesters. Meanwhile, the group at or near retirement hasn’t fared much better. While they have fixed income from pensions and Social Security, their savings accounts aren’t keeping pace with inflation, IRA accounts consist of too much risk, and no one has mapped out an exit strategy so they can use and enjoy their money.

Determining your level of worry is one of the first steps in planning for retirement. Once you gauge your level of worry, it’s much easier to reduce it.

The following short questionnaire will help you determine what’s worrying you right now, and zero in on your biggest worry so you can focus your efforts and begin to make real progress toward your retirement vision. Simply circle your immediate response to each question. At the end of the questionnaire, select the one top worry and write it at the bottom of the exercise.

Level of Worry

After you’ve completed this exercise, talk to your financial advisor about these concerns. You’ll be glad you did… and will be on your way to a WorryFree Retirement®.