Thursday, January 31, 2008

Retirement Planning and the Spoiler

Retirement Planning and the Spoiler

Some people just itch to ruin the ending. Perhaps they are giving instructions for video game play “Look for snake juice”, “Get magic glow”, or my favorite “Bring the Princess out of the Poor Quarter” give new players an unfair advantage and frustrated players the courage to brave on. Some folks stick to sporting events focusing on saved stuff on your Tivo, often blurting out scores before you have had a chance to stop them.

Currently the blog, Real Clear Politics is calling Texas Congressman Ron Paul the spoiler in the Republican Presidential race. Most of you know Ralph Nader as the classic Democratic spoiler, garnishing votes that reside on the extreme left.

The most common scene of the spoil is movies (“Chigurh leaves the house and makes sure there’s no blood on his boots”). Movie reviewers walk a fine line, hoping to give you enough information about the film that will serve to make the reader a more educated filmgoer and do so by expressing their opinion about the work. Good or bad, a reviewer never tries to spoil the ending but as Nathan Lee, film critic for the Village Voice, readers should focus on specifics.

He writes, "It’s silly to insist that the critic never spoil. In practice, spoilers can be irresponsible, motivated by laziness, vindictiveness or snark, but if the ambition to inform the reader outweighs the need to protect them, then spoilers are warranted on principle. The integrity of the critic doesn’t revolve around whether or not they’re willing to spoil, but why they chose to do so.

One mustn't criticize other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself.

- Mark Twain “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court”

"Our obsession with spoilers has a diminishing effect, reducing popular criticism to a kind of glorified consumer reporting and the audience to babies. People outraged by spoilers should avoid all reviews before going to the movies or reading the book they’ve waited so long for, because the fact is all criticism spoils, no matter how scrupulous."

But retirement planning is the true realm of the spoiler and I probably take as much pleasure in it as Mr. Lee. It is why I do it and like every good investment book, the when and how are what makes most people make the purchase.

So far the conversation has concerned itself with the numerous roadblocks in the way of an easy retirement plan. From kids to parents to your own disposition, to the way the industry courts you and leads you on to the role the government has in maintaining economic growth. Collecting taxes – enough to finance what they do without pushing any debt burden onto future generations – who, may just rebel if they find out how much of their tax dollars is funding a portion of our retirement years and we may still have to work to the composition of that defined contribution plan.

The spoiler: To get where you want to go, you need to start early. If you have not, you will need to account for those missteps and false starts and if you are close to the end of the road, you will need to account for not only when you began the journey but also how far you have come.

Most of us have come a nice distance but worry about how much road is still ahead. At this point in the book, we examine the only thing that will make your portfolio perform better than it has and at the same time, could injure what you have accomplished. It is the risk and reward. It is volatility.

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