When it comes to retirement, Chris Hogan says financial sacrifices must be made to make it last.
A protégé of financial author Dave Ramsey tells older Americans it’s never too late to prepare for retirement and that cutting back on spending and debt is just as important as how you invest. Chris Hogan, a member of Ramsey’s team that speaks across the country, preaches Ramsay’s message of the importance of cutting expenses and debt, especially for those nearing retirement.
“Retirement is not an age,” Hogan says. “It’s a financial number. It’s a matter of what is your retirement going to look like for you. You can begin with your own situation and budget. Instead of spending $500 a month eating out, we can cut that back, and I can only eat out $100 worth. That’s $400 that’s not leaving me. Instead of it going to eat out, it can now go towards my retirement. If I can do that each month now by putting a leash on my money, I can be better off than I would have been by December of this year.”
Hogan encourages people who have debt on a vehicle or boat to sell it and take that money and invest it. Preparing for retirement is a willingness to make sacrifices, he says.
“I think regardless if people are in their 60s or 70s, debt is still going to be debt,” Hogan says. “Interest that you pay is a penalty and interest that you earn is a reward. You would be giving yourself a raise by paying off debt. Whether it’s eating out and groceries and putting some limits on that instead of doing what comes naturally, money that doesn’t leave you stays with you. Money that you can invest can grow for you.”
As for what mistakes do older Americans make when it comes to investments, Hogan says they don’t know what they’re going to do or accomplish and if they do, they’re trying to swing for a homerun every time. When people do that, they open themselves up to taking unnecessary risks, he says.
“As it gets closer, people start to feel pressure and when you feel that pressure, you’re trying to hurry up and do some things to make up for lost ground,” Hogan says. “I would tell people if you look at Dave Ramsey’s core message of getting out of debt and saving so you can build wealth, that’s the core tenant I would come back to. If someone wants to do something quickly, I would tell them to eliminate debt quickly. That’s something you can focus on and when you don’t have that debt attached to that item anymore, you can begin to do some things longer range with your investments.”
Hogan says one key mistake people make is going it alone and not sitting down with an investment adviser that has the heart of a teacher in that they’re trying to help you. Blindly picking stocks, listening to your neighbor or listening to a cousin or doing something because someone else is doing without truly understanding the risk versus the reward is a desperate move to make up for lost ground and creates unnecessary risks, he says.
The best way to remedy mistakes in the past is to have a plan for reducing debt, saving money and investing, Hogan says.
It’s important to follow that plan step-by-step like you would a road map leading you to a destination. It’s important to do regular check ups on that plan and if you’re married, make sure your spouse is involved, Hogan says. No plan is set in concrete, he adds.
“Always make adjustments as necessary,” Hogan says. “What worked for you when you’re 30 won’t work for you when you’re 40 or 50. We can’t have a sit-it and forget-it mentality. We got to have this plan we’re connected to and we’re making changes as we’re being guided by that professional.”
Hogan, 42, says he knows what he would do if he had another crack at his 20s. He says he would avoid debt, save, take advantage of a 401(k), create an emergency fund and he would delay gratification by holding back on spending.
“I would also definitely look at my talent as an asset. Everybody has natural talents and gifts and begin to look at that and figure out what are the ways I can be paid by doing thing that comes naturally to me and something I enjoy,” Hogan says.
Hogan says grandparents have an opportunity to have a profound impact on their kids as well as their grandkids and encourages older Americans to talk to them about finances. These are the people that have wisdom from both their successes and failures, he says. But that doesn’t mean they have no wisdom left for themselves, he says.
“I think the biggest thing I would encourage people to do is start dreaming and start planning,” Hogan says. “It’s never too late to start. I say that regret wants you to look back and feel bad, but hope wants you to look forward and be excited about what could come. I tell people all the time to glance back, but look forward. I want people to start to plan and dream, but take those actions that show you’re serious about achieving what you want to achieve. It’s possible to control your destiny, but we have to make small steps but one step forward is still called progress. I want people on a daily basis to make steps moving forward and making progress. You’re not where you want to be, but you can get where you want to go by sacrificing and staying focused on your goal.”