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In Retirement Planning, the Only Dumb Question is the One Not Asked

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One of those adages that tend to be true is that men will typically refuse to stop and ask for directions. (Someone once explained that that’s the reason why the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness!) Generally, it seems, men would rather meander aimlessly down the wrong road than to pull into a convenience store in order to get their bearings.

Psychologists say there are several reasons for this trait. One website called Psych Central explained that men generally “prefer to learn by doing, not by being told what to do.” Men also have the desire to “win” and to be victorious, something they feel robbed of when they have to stop and ask for help, as if finding your way is a kind of contest. And finally men want to be strong, which explains that desire to figure things out for themselves.

If you’re applying these notions merely to finding your way down an unfamiliar road, the worst you’ll probably get is lost. But if you’re exercising your blind refusal to ask for help in the area of finances, especially when you really don’t understand what’s going on, you’re heading for much more serious consequences. Here at AgingOptions we see this tendency all the time, and not just among men. All of us can display bull-headed tendencies that cause us to refuse to ask for aid when we desperately need it. That’s why we were drawn to this brief article on the New York Times website that advises us not to be afraid to ask. “Being humble when it comes to money is incredible smart,” says author Carl Richards, a financial planner and Times contributor. Richards says one of the “smartest money strategies” is to ask questions, even the ones that sound simple, when you don’t know the answer.

Why don’t we do this? Why are we sometimes so hesitant to ask? It probably goes back to the reasons men dislike asking for directions. None of us, male or female, wants to look dumb. We all like to come across as smart, savvy, and well-informed. But Richards says it’s that lack of humility, especially in money matters, that can lead to big mistakes. We would add that the importance of asking questions really impacts not just finances but all aspects of retirement – yet frequently we encounter people too stubborn to listen to wise advice.

In the Times article Richards singles out as a good example of humility none other than the “Oracle of Omaha,” 86 year old billionaire Warren Buffett. According to Richards, Buffett – even with all his billions – still spends 80 percent of his workday “reading and thinking. Why does he do this? To learn things he doesn’t already know,” writes Richards. Even Warren Buffett is humble enough to admit he doesn’t have all the answers. Why aren’t we?

The author recounts a recent episode where he and his wife visited their attorney for some basic estate planning. “As he rolled through the plan,” says Richards, “we just sat there nodding along, pretending that we understood everything he said. We signed a few papers, shook hands and walked out of the building.” It wasn’t until they got to the parking lot that he and his wife looked at one another and admitted that neither one had really had a clue what the lawyer had been saying! In spite of the fact that both Richards and his wife were fairly sophisticated in the area finances and legal affairs, they had to humble themselves, go back, and ask some clarifying questions that might better have been handled the first time around.

“While humility is a virtue in all parts of life,” Richards concludes, “when it comes to making smart decisions with money, it serves as a vital layer of protection. When it comes to our money, there are no dumb questions.”

Here at AgingOptions we would add a hearty “Amen” to that statement, and expand the topic from money to all of retirement. Let’s face it, planning for your retirement future can be complicated. Can you protect your assets in retirement? Can you avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones? Is there a way to create a retirement plan that puts all the important pieces – finances, medical care, legal affairs, housing choices, and family dynamics – into one master blueprint? Fortunately the answer to all these questions is a confident yes, when you utilize the approach we call LifePlanning. With your LifePlan in place, your road map to the future fulfillment of your dreams is clearly laid out – and you won’t always have to stop and ask for directions!

Find out more about this breakthrough in retirement planning by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar soon. It will be a few hours very well spent, we can assure you, based on the testimony of many hundreds who have taken part. You can register online for your convenience, simply by clicking on the Upcoming Events tab, or you can contact us for assistance. Helping you plan for a secure and fruitful retirement is our professional specialty, and it will be a privilege to meet you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon. And bring your questions – even the ones you’ve been hesitating ask!

(originally reported at

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