How many “variables” do you control?

There’s a lot to read about financial advice, investing and retirement – and as I read yet another article this week about “planning for retirement”, in which the author was suggesting that advisors adopt a model long used by institutions to plan pension obligations (“how did that work out?” I hear some of you asking – for another article but THAT issue is one of inflow.) and articulated 18 points, I paused and wrote two lists “things you can control” and “things you can’t control”. And guess what? There are 5 things you can control (things like: having no plan, overspending, trapping yourself into the “illiquidity box”) and 13 things you can’t (interest rates, inflation, the market – not to mention the length of your life and whether you will have a catastrophic health event). So, given that there are almost 3x as many things you CAN’T control than the things you CAN control, and given that THAT list is relatively short, it seems there are two choices: 1. give up because the things out of your control are overwhelming OR 2. do what you can and leave the 13 uncontrollable chips to fall where they may. Maybe because I’m an eternal optimist, I’ll choose to take the short list: doesn’t mean I won’t get frustrated about the long list and, in the end, the plan won’t be perfect – but I’m willing to give it a shot….

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