Pick a number from 1 to 4.
Jot it down. Commit it to memory. Play along, and I have a fairly good shot at blowing your mind. Really.
Got your number? Good. This trick works most of the time, but before I reveal your pick, let me really blow your mind by also predicting that you really haven't thought much about your eventual retirement. You may have a pension at work or an IRA that you started a few years ago but have neglected to feed over the years. However, if you're like most people, you probably don't spend as much time as you should thinking about your retirement.
If Blondie says so
A little over 25 years ago, the rock group Blondie had a snappy little ditty called "Die Young, Stay Pretty." As the title implies, Deborah Harry sang about passing away in her prime in order to "leave only the best behind." A generation earlier, it was The Who singing about hoping to die before they got old in "My Generation."
The kicker here is Debbie and Roger Daltrey are still here, alive and kicking a generation or two later. Irony 2, Rockers 0. The same can be said of most of their bandmates. Good for them. Life can be a pretty good deal, when you think about it. I'm pretty sure they weren't taking their anthems literally.
However, how many of us are taking that exact approach with our retirement planning? How many of us are banking on being able to work capably until we punch out for keeps? Die young. Retire pretty. What a silly way to go.
Better lives but not necessarily smarter ones
Right now, the first wave of the Baby Boomers are turning 60. Defying the lyrical logic of Debbie and Roger, there are more of us living longer, and that's not going to change. The supply-and-demand shortcomings of the country's Social Security system will rear its ugly head eventually, and the three possible administrative responses -- pushing out the retirement age, hiking taxes, or slashing benefits -- aren't exactly tantalizing propositions. One way or another (thanks, Blondie) we're going to have to pull more of our own weight in the future. The sooner you realize it, the more excited you can get about planning for your retirement.
We're investors around here, so it only makes sense to approach the aging Baby Boomers as more of an investment opportunity than a problem. Is there anyone who doesn't expect the major pharmaceutical companies to be raking it in as we live longer lives?
Yet in a brilliant stroke of opportunistic luck, this sector has been out of favor lately. That finds some of the biggest drugmakers trading at historically cheap prices and packing sky-high yields.
Johnson & Johnson
Following the same reasoning, if more able-bodied retirees seek out diversions in their golden years, there will also be some great plays in the leisure sector -- like travel. Timeshare used to be a dirty word. It may still be, now that the leading players sell timeshares as vacation ownership intervals. Yet if more of the country has free time on its hands, how can you not like the chances of timeshare providers like ILX Resorts
Would I be out of line to propose that if you looked into these companies a little more, to the point that you bought in, that you earmark the dividends for your retirement? Make out a will. Get an estate plan in order, if necessary. Take advantage of tax-advantaged retirement plans and actually contribute to them as much and as early as possible. Finally, join Robert Brokamp's Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service to put it all together the right way.
It's not simply a matter of saving for a rainy day. It's about building a sturdier umbrella. Forget about working until you give up the ghost. How will that ever give you the time to scribe the novel you always wanted to write or travel for months at a time? If you want that kind of freedom in the future, you're going to have to work at it today.
Retirement planning is easy, once you start
Scrambling off to a commissioned expert and paying too much for an investing horizon that's too short shouldn't be your last resort. It shouldn't even be an option. You're smarter than that. You just haven't taken the time to fire up the right retirement calculator to figure out how to make your inevitable future easier, and then to lean on the community of fellow Fools to make sure you get there.
You've got the right investing ideas. You just need a little help in fleshing out the roadmap. That's where Robert's newsletter comes in, with Web-based seminars, a toolbox filled with retirement calculators, and a meaty monthly read addressing everything from real estate to health care to Wall Street's best moves. It's not magic. It's just common sense.
But speaking of magic, I promised if you picked a number from 1 to 4, I would nail it. I didn't forget about that. I trust you didn't forget your number.
It was the number three. Yes, that's right. Most of you are nodding in agreement. It's not much of a trick, really, as when the question is phrased that way, 75% of the time the response will be the number three.
Go ahead, try it on some friends. But, please, perform the ultimate magic trick by taking your future seriously and making your retirement plan appear.
You can live a long time and still retire pretty.
You too can join Rick in planning for your retirement and owning your retirement if you're there already -- before it owns you. Subscribe to Rule Your Retirement or simply kick the tires for the next 30 days to see if it improves your outlook as part of a free trial .
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz shakes his head at some of the inane lyrics nestled deep in the liner notes of his record collection. He was actually part of the International Brotherhood of Magicians at one point. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Not yet. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick, and Merck is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool has adisclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.