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Kevin Spacey Tells Us about Retirement

Kevin-spacey-episode-1200x630He may be a stone-cold killer with no conscience, but if Frank Underwood were a real-life candidate for the presidency, I would vote for him. Frank Underwood is not a real person, of course. He’s the crooked politician portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the Netflix series House of Cards who claws his way into the White House by manipulating the press and ruthlessly crushing anyone that might get in his way. We’ve been crippled by Social Security. By Medicare. Medicaid. Welfare. And entitlements. And that is the root of the problem. Entitlements. Let me be clear: You are entitled to nothing.

If you’re in or close to retirement, those words are a little hard to swallow. But it doesn’t mean they’re not true. Social Security and Medicare are not “rights” in any legal sense. Congress decides on the payout, and Congress can change it—or eliminate it—at any time. You really are not “entitled” to anything and certainly nothing is guaranteed, according to a recent Forbes article titled “Life Lessons From House Of Cards: "You Are Entitled To Nothing".

You are entitled to nothing. It’s not fun to hear, but it’s important to remember when you’re planning your retirement. You should plan under the assumption that your benefits in retirement will be lower than currently promised. With that in mind, here are three specific recommendations from the article’s author on how to approach your planning:

  1. Focus on income rather that the “magic number.” Most financial planning is driven by creating a nest egg of a certain size. But this doesn’t take into consideration the market yields. Focus on the income generated instead of only a certain net worth number.
  2. Consider investments you might not have looked into before. Investments like preferred stock and closed-end bond funds can be good income producers if bought at a reasonable price.
  3. An immediate annuity can be a smart method of converting part of your nest egg into a safe stream of income resembling a pension.

Take President Underwood’s words to heart—You are entitled to nothing—and start planning accordingly.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: Forbes (March 20, 2015) “Life Lessons From House Of Cards: "You Are Entitled To Nothing"

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