The first thing a couple needs to do as they focus on improving their retirement planning is to establish a threshold where a financial conversation is required before making a purchase. For conversation sake, you and your spouse may agree to a threshold of purchases greater than fifty dollars. So your agreement may read as follows. “Before making purchases over $ 50, we, as a couple, agree to discuss the need / want for such an item or service.” If there is no agreement then do not make the purchase. A residual effect of combining incoming (behavior number one) is the communication that will take place when one person wants to make a basic purchase. This process fosters personal value as part of a team and builds respect for each person. Making financial decisions is the responsibility of both adults in the marriage. Only in rare instances should there be the ability of one person to make the decision in lieu of an agreement. To insure harmony in the planning process, it is best for couples to have agreed upon guidelines for making unilateral decisions. In over 21 years of marriage, I can only think of two times when I made a unilateral decision. Every other major financial decision was made with complete agreement.
Another way of developing this behavior is to establish a twenty-four hour cooling off period when deciding to make a major purchase. If you practice the cooling off period philosophy, you remove most, if not all, of the pressure sales techniques used by many today. Part of the ability to develop this behavior will come from analyzing the potential outputs and opportunity costs associated with decision making. Retirement planning is just as much about strategy as is the game of chess. You have a set of constitutions associated with how the pieces move, specific color associations with certain pieces, and what constituents check and checkmate. Retirement planning also comes with a set of constraints including, but not limited to, financial resources, time, and rate of return. There are variables in the game of chess just as there are in your retirement planning. In the game of chess, you might have to make a decision between two moves that both appear to produce your desired results. In retirement planning you may identify two advantageous strategies.
The real trick to winning the game of chess is to manipulate your opponent's pieces to move in a way that is consistent with your strategy. Thus, you have to learn how to understand your opponent's thought processes and maneuvers in such a way as to cause him or her to do what you want him or her to do. The same is true for retirement planning. You have to understand the environments that can impact your plan. Political, economic, and social environments can increase your rate of return or decrease your available resources for investment. If you as a couple work together in making the key decisions, with intentional thought, you can mitigate the variables within these environments. What you do when your opponent moves his chess pieces in a direction that is counter to your strategy will affect your retirement planning. Part of developing your retirement plan is to have a well defined and actionable mitigation plan when conditions on the ground change. And they will change over the course of your life.
Since the goal of chess is to manipulate your opponent's pieces to move in a way that is consistent with your strategy, you must understand the behavior of your opponent. You must be able to read the environment and those influences within that environment in order to play the game well. You study the board of life and actually move each piece to determine its potential and threats. Actions that have a high propensity to lead to negative outcomes must be revamped or discarded altogether. Actions that have a high propensity to lead to positive outcomes need to be vetted and pursued. There are likely to be some actions in which you can not determine the potential outcomes. These actions should be considered with guarded optimism. Retirement planning requires that you take time to think before you make a purchase. Every large financial transaction has associated opportunity costs. To navigate the political, economic, and social environments you have to take the time to consider all options. You can not consider all options if you rush into a purchase.
To win at life you need to play the game with a strategic mind set, much the way you need to play the game of chess. You take a series of tactical actions that, in their totality, result in putting your opponent's king in a position where it is unable to move without being in check. This is called check-mate. In life, your opponents are those things which prevent you from achieving the success you desire. These are the things that you must keep in check. Always positioning your pieces in such a way as to keep your opponents in check requires you to think and act strategically. You must scan your life and learn to anticipate from where your next or opportunity may arise. Then, seeing the pieces in place, you must examine each piece to determine if the threat or opportunity is more possible or probable to materialize. Acknowledge the possible, but respond to the probable. This is how a retirement plan works. Awareness of the possible should not require action. It is when the possible becomes probable that action is required. For the probable will turn into one of two realities based on your desire and intentionality of action. It will either become regret, because you failed to act, or it will become an achievement because you acted.