Many readers are preparing to travel during the July 4th holiday. As people pull up to the pumps to fill their tanks, there will probably be a lot of grumbling over the price of a gallon of gasoline. Some will blame big oil for the rising cost; some will blame the never-ending crisis in the Middle East; and others will blame the government.
In recent years, it seems like one of the most popular words in our
nation’s vocabulary is “blame.” Over the years, I have observed that
blaming someone or something for a problem is much easier than trying to
find a workable solution.
I have also concluded that, in most instances, including financial
issues, making decisions during times of high stress seldom leads to
viable long-term solutions.
Shortly after I graduated from high school in the 1970s, I heard quite a
few politicians and business leaders talk about the need for a national
energy policy. The need is certainly real, but the ability of
politicians to make hard choices appears to be non-existent.
Here we are 40 years later and our nation still does not have any
semblance of an energy policy. Essentially, there is nothing but a wild
mishmash of federal and state rules and regulations without any
coordinated goals or objectives. This is called winging it.
There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between a national energy
policy and retirement planning. I am certain that there are many
individuals out there who entered the workforce between 40 and 50 years
ago, and who have no real retirement plan today. What they might have
are a few 401(k) programs, a couple of IRAs and a few dollars in the
They likely have no stated income goal, nor, in all probability, any
rhyme or reason as to how their investments are allocated. In other
words, their retirement planning never had a plan. It just evolved into a
nest egg that they hoped would carry them through their retirement
They, too, are winging it as they go. When they reach retirement, you
are likely to hear a lot of blaming others for their financial issues.
In their minds, their own lack of planning and goal setting had nothing
to do with their dire straits. Unfortunately, this is exactly like us
not having a national energy policy.
For years, famous oilman T. Boone Pickens has made appearances on a
number of news shows preaching the importance of a national energy
policy. He has spent a lot of his own money in order to spread the
A nation having a viable energy policy is similar to an individual
having an intelligent financial plan. Both require diversification, risk
management and stated, measurable goals and objectives. Insofar as
establishing an energy policy, our politicians have failed to do so, in
spite of the fact that they’ve been aware of the need since the oil
crisis in the mid-’70s.
But there’s nothing keeping you from instituting a simple household
financial plan. It’s far better than flying by the seat of your pants,
and it helps to organize and achieve stated goals. Don’t let the lack of
a plan lead to the blame game. If you have no plan, you know where the