During the summer of 1925, a court case in Dayton, Tennessee caught the attention of the entire nation. A high school teacher named John Scopes was being accused of teaching human evolution in a public school, which at the time, was illegal according to the state’s laws. The legal dispute became known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial”. One of the best speeches from the trial came from Mr. Scopes’ co-counsel, Dudley Field Malone who said that he had never learned anything from any man who agreed with him. Malone is also remembered for another of my favorite quotes: “A good analogy is worth three hours of discussion.”
When I talk to people about retirement planning, I often use analogies. With a topic as heavy and complicated as finance, its’ easy to see why they would be useful. For example: when discussing investment risk levels, I like to imagine driving on a highway. If you are young, the high-speed lane can be appropriate but eventually as you age, it is usually prudent to shift lanes. For some retirees, the highway may be inappropriate all together and using the back roads will be the best way to navigate your investments.
Boating has been a favorite pastime of mine since I was a child. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where not only my father owned a small boat, but my grandfather as well. So naturally I like to use boats when making analogies. You can imagine retiring like setting sail from a dock. You must be sure that you have all the resources you will need before you embark on your journey. Depending on where you are headed, there might not be any ports along the way to get more supplies. And if you wish to travel far out into the ocean then you better be sure your boat is big enough to weather storms. Sometimes it can pay to have an expert look over your inventory and inspect your vessel; someone who has helped hundreds of others prepare for such a trip.
This is a good depiction of what planning for retirement is like. Imagine your paycheck as a running water source. When you retire, you have turned off the water. Talk to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to determine if you have enough water stored to turn off the spout.