Kevin Spacey portrays Frank Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards. As a deceitful political candidate, it would be hard to imagine anyone worse. Underwood claws his way into the White House by manipulating the press and ruthlessly crushing anyone that might get in his way. He does however recognize one significant fact that seems to have escaped our consciousness of late and that is that our government and its taxpayers are overwhelmed by our social obligations. Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid. Welfare. Entitlements.
In the words of Frank Underwood, entitlements are the root of all of our political problems. “ Let me be clear”, he tells us, “You are entitled to nothing.”
If you’re in or close to retirement, finally eligible for a least two of those programs after years of paying into them, those words are a very hard to swallow. But it doesn’t mean they’re not true. Social Security and Medicare are not “rights” in any legal sense. Congress decides on the payout, and Congress can change it—or eliminate it—at any time. You really are not “entitled” to anything and certainly nothing is guaranteed, according to a recent Forbes article titled “Life Lessons From House Of Cards: "You Are Entitled To Nothing".
You are entitled to nothing. It’s not fun to hear, but it’s important to remember when you’re planning your retirement. You should plan under the assumption that your benefits in retirement will be lower than currently promised. With that in mind, here are three specific recommendations from the article’s author on how to approach your planning:
- Focus on income rather that the “magic number.” Most financial planning is driven by creating a nest egg of a certain size. But this doesn’t take into consideration the market yields. Focus on the income generated instead of only a certain net worth number.
- Consider investments you might not have looked into before. Investments like preferred stock and closed-end bond funds can be good income producers if bought at a reasonable price.
- An immediate annuity can be a smart method of converting part of your nest egg into a safe stream of income resembling a pension.
Take President Underwood’s words to heart—You are entitled to nothing—and start planning accordingly. You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.
Reference: Forbes (March 20, 2015) “Life Lessons From House Of Cards: "You Are Entitled To Nothing"