Plan Your Journey

If you’re over 50, you may remember AAA TripTiks booklets.

From AAA’s website: “In the days before Google Maps…or even the internet…a AAA agent would draw the route with a highlighter on a series of numbered maps, going through the route with the driver before they started. The end result, a guided route through a series of maps, was called a TripTik.”

AAA started producing TripTiks before WWII (and the interstate highway system), when many U.S. roads were still unpaved. These trusty maps helped drivers know which roads required a sturdier vehicle—or should be avoided altogether. 

To those of us with “map apps” on our smartphones, highlighted paper maps seem quaint. Nevertheless, they point out two things every traveler needs to know: 

Destination. Where are you going? Across town, or across the country? Do you need to arrive tomorrow, or do you have days to leisurely meander your way to your destination?

Situation. What will you find when you get there? You might be comfortable driving in flip-flops and gym shorts. But what if, upon arrival in Breckenridge, CO, you find six feet of fresh snow and a temperature of 17 degrees? (I’m hoping you stuffed a fleece parka and some snow boots in your back seat!) 

My point? The situation at your destination should influence your preparation.

That goes for retirement preparation too. You need answers to both questions before you begin your journey.

What’s your destination? It’s not enough to simply say “retirement.” How much income will you want to have in retirement? If you’re living on $5,000 per month today, and you plan on retiring in 20 years, it will take $9,000 of income per month to maintain the same lifestyle (assuming 3% inflation). Where’s that $9,000 going to come from?

What’s your situation? What are financial conditions going to be like when you retire in 20 or 30 years? Don’t know? Neither do I.

If CD rates are 7% when you retire, you could pull your $9,000 per month from $1,500,000 in CDs. But what if interest rates are half a percent (like they are today)? Do the math—it would take $21 million to produce the same income!

Again, none of us knows what the financial landscape is going to look like when we arrive at Retirement Land. Given this fact, doesn’t it make sense to build a plan with lots of flexibility?  

If you don’t yet have such a retirement plan—one that includes preparation, your unique destination and situation—it’s time to create one. How else will you ever be ready?

For some folks, vacation planning consists of jumping in the car and driving off in a random direction. That doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Yet that is exactly the way a majority of Americans approach retirement planning. 

They’re driving…some faster than others…but they have no idea where they’re going or what they’ll find once they arrive. 

I’d love to send you a free article I’ve written on retirement planning titled Why a “Nest Egg” Isn’t Enough. Email me at and I’ll get it right to you. 

With the new year looming, I want you to have a clear map, customized for your journey and your destination.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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