Here on the Jay Garvens Show, we spend a lot of time looking into the future—making predictions and forecasts in hopes of giving our investment strategies a competitive edge. Savvy investors will spend years and even decades cultivating a sound investment portfolio, but even the best cannot predict the future with absolute certainty. They will, therefore, build strategies that can accommodate events that are impossible to predict. To help explain how this looks in practice, we had Chris Abeyta of Accelerated Wealth in the studio for what may be one of the most important shows we’ve ever aired.

Chris began his segment with an anecdote about walking along a local hiking trail and coming upon a fallen tree that had been destroyed by lightning. It was clearly a tremendous and destructive force that felled that tree, and it got Chris to thinking about the devastating effects that arise from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While it’s exceedingly rare for people to be struck by lightening, it does happen. Similarly, while severe economic recessions and depressions are rare, they do happen.

Consider the 2008 recession that seemed to have come out of nowhere. Even those who predicted a collapse in the housing market did not predict a global financial meltdown on such a scale and of such severity as that we had witnessed. It was as random and rare as a lightening strike, but it affected billions of people worldwide. Fortunately, most people had time to recover from the recession. A comparatively small number of people had their retirements coincide with the recession, but for those who did the timing was absolutely devastating.

Between 2007 and 2009, the stock market lost 57% of its value. In 2002, during the fallout of the dot-com bubble bursting, the market dropped 42%. Those whose retirements were exclusively, or even substantially, tied up in the stock market lost a substantial amount of their net worth within a period of just a few weeks. That is, the nest eggs they spent their entire lives building were decimated inside a window of just a few weeks.

One couple Chris advised had nearly a million dollars invested in mutual funds when they came to him for advice. It’s scary to think that, had they been set to retire in 2008, they could potentially have lost about $600,000 of their retirement! Still, even though we have weathered the worst of the recession, there is no telling what our economy and the stock market will look like in just a few years, or even whether that million-dollar nest egg will be enough for retirement. In the end, he restructured their investments into an annuity that was guaranteed to pay out for the rest of their lives, plus an actively managed investment account that could take on more risk and more returns. This gave them both security and potential for robust growth.

Even those who spend their entire lives being diligent by saving for retirement can end up blindsided by unfortunate economic events. And even those who retire during great economic times find themselves burdened by the same set of questions and concerns, chief among them “Do I have enough to retire?” and “What will I do if and when the money runs out?” That’s why it’s never too early to start planning for retirement, and why it’s important to have a plan that can handle future events, regardless of what those future events look like.

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