Retirement Planning Strategies March 2019

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MARCH 2019

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Did the Shutdown Shut You Down? WHY PLANNING FOR YOURSELF MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

What’s important is having a personal plan in place when events like a shutdown occur. As a government employee, there will always be factors you can’t control. The shutdown may be an extreme example, but you deal with these factors all the time. From administration turnovers to policy changes, rolling with the punches is the nature of a career in the public sector. With so many external factors influencing your profession and well-being, it’s doubly important to create and execute a plan that isn’t reliant on the whims of politics. As I spoke to clients affected by the shutdown, I couldn’t help but notice a difference in attitude between those with a plan and those without one. People in the first camp may have been strained by the shutdown, but they didn’t see it as the end of the world. For some of our clients, it was a chance to begin the retirement they’d been putting off. It was the push they needed to take the next step. People without a plan, on the other hand, were immediately thrust into uncertainty and turmoil. Don’t get me wrong; a month-long shutdown is an historic circumstance. Even with the promise of backpay, many federal employees were not financially equipped to deal with being out of work

for so many weeks. Seeing people who serve this nation lining up for food banks and other charitable services is infuriating. However, ensuring you have something to fall back on when the waves get choppy can make the event a nuisance rather than a catastrophe. Part of what makes retirement planning for federal workers so different from the private sector is the necessity of accounting for the unexpected. When you began a career in civil service, you knew you’d forgo some of the comforts of corporate life for the chance to make a positive impact on this nation and the world. Dealing with situations and change outside of your control is part of that. Instead of wasting time and energy bemoaning those changes when they arrive, I encourage you to plan proactively to limit their impact. When systems fail, it’s easy for panic to set in. A government shutdown is a huge deal, but it doesn’t have to be a source of constant worry. It pays to always have a plan, but there are extra dividends when you can execute that plan no matter what happens in Washington.

It will come as no surprise to readers that I’m talking about the government shutdown this month. It’s been the topic among the federal workforce this year for good reason. After the longest shutdown in U.S. history, we’re still not certain whether another one will occur soon or not. It’s a source of stress and anxiety for millions of Americans and a constant concern for our clients. That being said, I’m not here to discuss the politics of the shutdown or proclaim that the sky is falling for federal employees.

–Ann Vanderslice

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