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Updated: Jun 12, 2023

The squirrels are thinking about it, I can tell. Whether it be a couple of overnight lows in the 40s or the oblique angle of the sun, those squirrels are thinking about the changing of the season.

The halcyon days of squirrel summer are waning fast, they’ve eaten all my tomatoes, and the frenzied preparations are about to begin: foraging, digging, burying, and hoarding. Winter is coming! Lo the manic urgency born of these grievous vicissitudes! They do get hysterical, those squirrels (though they’re surprisingly handy with a thesaurus).

When winter arrives, what does the squirrel do? She goes to her hoard and eats when she’s hungry. Maybe there will be enough food to survive until spring.

I’m quite sure the reader can Google Aesop and figure out the metaphor for retirement preparations. (The Ant and the Grasshopper applies). I’ll go ahead and confirm, yes, starting retirement savings earlier is better, and a cozy den in winter is a welcome thing. Just in case, winter equates to retirement in this fable.

For humans, “The Squirrel Plan” equates to shoving cash under the mattress. The hoard isn’t depleted by incompetent supply chain management (i.e. “Where did I put that acorn?”) but rather by inflation that literally reduces the amount of food – and other goods – one can buy with the cash. There’s a finite amount of cash under there, and it might outlast you…

or not.

I now come to the point, via a trio of observations: Squirrels stink at finding the food they hide. Next spring rolling around means going back to work, both for the squirrel and metaphorically for our imaginary retiree. Human retirements are longer than squirrel life spans.

We humans neither want to waste our assets nor return to work. We certainly don’t want to wonder if the hoard is sufficient for a too-late-arriving spring, one in which your life outlasts your money. While squirrels instinctively prepare for one winter; we must prepare for 30+ years of rising costs in retirement without any such innate ability.

That’s why our team at Mutual of Omaha is primarily focused on retirement planning; nobody was born good at it, and once-in-a-lifetime doesn’t give you a lot of opportunity for a do-over. Please reach out if you’d like to review your retirement plan. If you know someone who’s been squirreling it away for retirement but seems uncertain if they’ve put their acorns in the right place, an introduction is the greatest compliment would could receive.

Thank you.

Kyle Swan, CFP®


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