I'm not getting any younger. And, if you don't mind me saying so, neither are you.

I'm starting to see a few gray hairs poke out of my scalp. I get sore after playing a little football in the backyard with my sons. I'm actually watching what I eat, which is something that I probably should have started doing a long time ago.

I don't mind getting older. I was all smiles when I turned 40 two summers ago. I live in Florida, so I'm already one step ahead of eventual retirees. However, living in "The Sunshine State" has also been a real eye-opener lately.

Over the past few weeks I've come across septuagenarians -- and even a few octogenarians -- in places I hadn't been expecting, like:

  • Collecting ticket stubs at the local multiplex.
  • Waiting on tables at my favorite Cuban restaurant.
  • Checking me out -- literally -- at the public library.

Don't get me wrong. I love seeing senior citizens enjoying productive lives. It only makes me sad because, I suspect that in many cases, they probably never had a choice. Between faltering pensions, nest egg thieves like Bernie Madoff, and just crummy retirement planning, a lot of people who hung up their cleats to enjoy the Florida weather are now having to suit up again.

The new reality
Planning for retirement is never a one-time event. Just look at the cruel math staring many rainy-day savers in the face:

  • Stock market indices are back where they were roughly a decade ago.
  • Money market funds are yielding an average of 1.4%, according to Morningstar.
  • 5-year CDs and intermediate-term bond yields are hovering around the 3% mark.
  • Real estate prices have plunged nearly 20% over the past year.

Do you think anyone was plugging these variables into their retirement planning calculations just a couple of years ago? I sure wasn't.

"Can you retire in 2016" was an article I wrote three years ago, when I was wondering if I could squeeze through with an early retirement of my own. Well, as you can tell by the title of today's article, I am still wondering if I can hang it up in 10 years.

In fact, I may be even more than 10 years away from retirement.  

Three wasted years
At the time, I was pondering the merits of investing in the companies that would make my early retirement enjoyable. I proposed golf club makers, watercraft manufacturers, and RV specialists. My flawed thesis was that if retirees had similar interests, huge stock gains would propel me into a much smoother retirement.

Ready? Here comes the pain.




Callaway Golf (NYSE:ELY)

Golf Products


Thor Industries



Winnebago (NYSE:WGO)



Monaco Coach*

Coach Buses





Marine Products

Leisure Boats



Leisure Boats


* Monaco filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and is being acquired by Navistar (NYSE:NAV).

There's a lesson in the ugly table, though. Instead of loading up in luxury goods that make retirees giddy, I should have found a more diversified basket of stocks. I should have offered up a broader range of investments that wouldn't faint at the first whiff of a crushing recession. 

Besides, "living large" with fancy boats and RVs isn't the reality for most of us as we age. I should have offered up a broader collection of companies that still feast on a consumer's leisure time but with more recession-resistant packaging.  

If I could do it all over again -- and I guess I'm doing just that -- I would have replaced some of those names with the following companies that have fared much better over the past three years because they are more diversified and have better armor against economic attacks. 

  • Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) helps shoppers stretch their money, in good times and bad.
  • Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) not only makes prostate procedures easier and safer with its robotic surgical arm, but it also makes the operating table more efficient for the hospitals that invest in them to ramp up productivity.
  • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) entertains the homebound with a steady flow of mail-delivered DVD rentals. It is one of the few subscriber services to grow this past quarter.
  • McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) isn't just a place to take grandchildren for a Happy Meal fix. It has grown as bargain-seeking diners trade down from pricier casual-dining fare.

Getting back on track
I consider myself a reasonably bright guy, but I now realize that I can't plan for a comfortable retirement on my own. It's probably time for me to lean more from Robert Brokamp -- a friend of mine for over a decade now -- and his Rule Your Retirement service.

In his monthly newsletters, Robert recommends asset diversification to help keep your portfolio strong through varying economic conditions. He even provides plenty of potent planning ammo, including several model portfolios that help you diversify your asset allocation.

I didn't take my retirement planning seriously a few years ago. What did I know? I was a thirty-something punk. The perpetually changing quality of asset classes and even simple things like fluctuating tax rates are reminders that only those who stay abreast of retirement planning will be the ones who stay retired.

There's nothing wrong with ripping matinee stubs, serving up plates of ropa vieja, or shelving Agatha Christie novels. However, when the time comes when I finally am able to retire, I would prefer to be at the other end of all of those exchanges.   

You 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 a month with a free trial

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz turns 42 this summer. My, how time flies. He owns shares of Netflix, which is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Intuitive Surgical is a Rule Breakers pick. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.