A very common phrase in the American culture is “I’m all set.” For instance, it’s a frequent response to a salesperson when you’re casually out shopping in a retail store.
It’s almost a given that, before you leave the store, someone is going
to ask if there’s anything else they can do for you. And it’s not just
the department store; it’s the oil change place, the restaurant, even
So I shouldn’t be surprised that the phrase pops up in my part of the
financial world. Often times, when I’m out socially, people will
approach and ask me a financially related question. I usually answer the
question, but I also offer to meet the person to go into more detail.
More often than not, the response is “I’m all set.”
In our day-to-day lives, people like to get into a comfortable routine,
especially regarding their finances. But, I suggest that it’s risky for
anyone to conclude that they’re “all set” with their finances. Certainly
Let’s take a look at a few examples. Many are still feeling the economic
scars of the near meltdown of 2008-09. Far too many households did what
I refer to as “knee-jerk” financial planning. In other words, they
totally abandoned their investment strategies and fled to the
low-interest-rate banks, intending never to return to the investment
Another example of the “I’m all set” mentality gone wrong often falls on
the shoulders of a surviving spouse. Not to pick on General Motors, but
I know that there were quite a few retired auto executives who were
overly concentrated in GM stock.
It was their mindset that the stock would be a winner throughout their
retirement years. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with having confidence
in your company. Unfortunately, a few surviving spouses learned the hard
way that they were not “all set” by holding onto GM stock forever.
The lesson here is clear. No matter how good an individual stock may
appear, there is inherent danger in putting all of your retirement nest
egg into one basket. I have certainly written about diversification
Retirees and widows also used to be able to supplement their nest egg
with the interest from their bank deposits. When interest rates were
near 5 percent, a $100,000 bank deposit would generate $5,000 of income.
Today, you’re lucky if that $100,000 earned $1,000.
The good news is that many of those that are dependent on bank interest
are finally aware that they’re not “all set.” The questionable news is
that far too many of them are seeking alternatives with higher interest
Questionable because I think they have no idea what they’re buying in
order to get higher rates and I fear they don’t comprehend the risk
inherent in the investments they make with money withdrawn from the
On another note, I’m pleased to share that I will be one of the speakers
at a series of Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Workshops in the comings
months. These workshops will be hosted by the Society for Lifetime
Planning and I am confident that anyone who attends will benefit. For
further details, please call 248-952-1744 or e-mail