Column: Navigating bumps in retirement road

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Commentary by Joe Clark

Few Indiana families have departed for a spring break in Florida without experiencing road construction in Kentucky or unimaginable traffic in Atlanta.

But despite the moments you’re parked in traffic or creeping along, you keep moving in the direction of your destination. Retirement planning is no different. But unlike planning a vacation, you only get one chance at mapping your retirement.

The headaches that accompany unexpected events along any road cause us stress and frustration. But when you know where you’re headed and committed to reaching your destination, you stay on the path. Such resolve is critical during those times when it seems like you are making no progress, whether on the highway or in your investment strategy. If the speed limit sign says 70 mph, why are you plodding along at 15? If the average return is close to 9 percent, why isn’t your account growing faster? Both are reasonable questions and believe me I have been there.

Over the past 15 months, the S&P 500 has gone virtually nowhere. For example, the value on March 28 was very close to 2030 — the same S&P 500 value recorded in November, 2014, and multiple times throughout 2015. Today’s markets feel like they are stuck in traffic. But even the most congested traffic jam ultimately breaks free and sometimes there seems to be no apparent cause. We can never know for certain the individual or multiple causes of slow growth. Indeed, we can speculate just as many reasons for why the market should be rising or falling.

When it comes to retirement planning and reaching other important destinations in life, the best advice is to focus on what you can control. First and foremost, understand where you are going and why. Second, make sure you have determined the best route to reach your destination. Finally, stick to the game plan. Wandering aimlessly will get you lost in a car and make you broke in a market.

Joseph Clark is a Certified Financial Planner and the Managing Partner of the Financial Enhancement Group, LLC, an SEC registered Investment Advisor. He is the host of “Consider This” on WQME at 9 a.m. Saturday mornings and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Purdue University, where he taught the capstone course for a degree in Financial Counseling and Planning. Securities offered through World Equity Group, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, a broker dealer and SEC registered Investment Advisor. Advisory Services can be provided by Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated and are not affiliated. Big Joe can be reached at bigjoe@yourlifeafterwork.com, or (765) 640-1524.

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