I was in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University back in the late 80’s. I did not really know what I was getting myself into when I enrolled, as none of my family had ever even visited the campus prior to driving me down for Freshman Orientation Week (FOW). Freshman, or Fish, reported the week before school started for FOW to get military haircuts, have uniforms issued, and start to learn the routine of life in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Cadet Corps.
One of the first things we were taught is that there are three acceptable answers to a question posed to a Fish by an upperclassman. The answers were:
- “Sir, Yes Sir”
- “Sir, No Sir”
- “Sir, not being informed to the highest degree of accuracy, I hesitate to articulate for fear that I may deviate from the true course of rectitude. In short sir, I am a very dumb Fish and do not know, Sir!”
If a Fish tried to offer a different answer, he or she would be admonished for making excuses.
I thought about those answers as I recently reviewed BlackRock’s 2014 U.S. Investor Pulse Survey, where 4,000 people were surveyed about their readiness for retirement. Of those surveyed, the pre-retirees have accumulated about 15% of what they are projected to need for a successful retirement. When asked what the obstacles were to saving more, the top three responses were:
- “I don’t earn enough.” – 47%
- “The cost of living is too high.” – 46%
- “I have unplanned expenses.” – 33%
We could delve into these answers with observations such as 53% earn enough to save more but apparently don’t, that the “cost of living” is not uncontrollable, or that not having a plan is a plan for failure, but I’m going to make it simple.
If you are currently falling short on your retirement plan, instead of excuses, use the three acceptable answers of an Aggie Fish the next time you think to yourself, “CAN I save more for retirement?”
- If you can, DO.
- If you can’t, make sure it’s not due to choices you are making.
- If you hesitate to articulate for fear you may deviate from the true course of rectitude, ask someone like me for help.
Wednesday April 15 is the deadline for 2014 IRA contributions.