Don’t Risk Your Retirement: Financial Planning is for Everyone

Don’t Risk Your Retirement: Financial Planning is for Everyone

According to popular opinion, young people spend money left and right with little thought to savings while older generations sock away every dollar with eyes on retirement.

In my experience, that’s a myth. Plenty of people at every age are equally unprepared.

That’s why it’s important to engage a financial planner to help you prepare for your golden years. You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to be close to retirement. In fact, the earlier the better.

Here is what I often tell my clients of all ages about planning for the future.

Young People
When you’re just starting out or beginning to get comfortable, your big priorities should be to pay down debt and jumpstart savings with whatever money you can. Young people are in the best position to save because, besides housing and maybe some student loans, they don’t have a lot of expenses.

At the very least, I advise people to get the most out of the company match for their 401(k) and manage their debt as much as possible, because every dollar you put toward interest is a dollar not put into savings. If a 401(k) or other company retirement plan is not an option, look to IRAs as alternative. While there’s no match with IRA, at least you’ve started the retirement saving discipline.

It’s a little like a gym membership: Signing up is easy. Forming a habit and putting in the work every day is what gets results.

Middle Age
People I speak with at this age often confess that they haven’t been saving enough. And most of the time it’s true. So this is when it becomes particularly important to put away as much as possible in savings and finding the right investment vehicles to meet your goals.

Hopefully you have your debt under control or even eliminated. You’ll have college and weddings and other big expenses associated with your children, but retirement savings must come first. When we take inventory together, it doesn’t always look pretty. But it’s important to be open and honest in reflecting on your finances and the way you’ve been spending. Then make a commitment to get it done. 

Older Generations
This is when it sometimes gets tough. I have had many difficult conversations telling someone they don’t have enough to retire or enough to secure the retirement they’d envisioned. It’s a little like telling them they have a terminal illness. But if you’ve made the right decisions and have a healthy nest egg, now is the time to re-examine your risk exposure and make sure you have the right plan for income generation and disbursement.

If you feel like you’re falling short in retirement savings, no matter your age, you basically have three options:

  • Work longer
  • Spend less, planning to live more frugally in retirement
  • Save more, which is often the most difficult option

If none of those options looks particularly attractive or you find the task of saving for retirement daunting or confusing, it might be time to have a professional help you plan. Believe me, the conversation is a lot easier now than it is when you’re 65.


James Hundley is a private wealth manager with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. and a senior vice president with Pinnacle Asset Management. He is also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional and is based at Pinnacle’s Capitol View office. He can be reached at or by phone at (615) 690-4125.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of James Hundley and not necessarily those of Raymond James

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC, and are not insured by bank insurance, the FDIC or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the bank, are not guaranteed by the bank, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal. Pinnacle Asset Management and Pinnacle Bank are not registered broker/dealers and are independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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