I write articles everyday on some aspect of what federal employee retirement can do and what they should know in order to prepare for retirement. I am thoroughly familiar with the structure and language of the Federal Retirement Systems, both FERS and CSRS and all of the different components of each. But even with my extensive knowledge and background in the field, it is still scary to think about how much information is out there and how confusing and complicated it must be for most people participating in the federal retirement systems.
It is my objective as I write, engage in personal conversations and teach seminars and workshops on federal retirement, that I do it in a way that takes the complexity and confusion out of the situation. Have I found an exact science as to how to achieve that objective? Absolutely not. I keep trying to come somewhere close to it since I feel a genuine connection to what individuals must be going through as they look to their retirement years.
Therefore, I have packed as a part of my arsenal quite a few things I believe will help me be of assistance to individuals who have worked hard all of their lives, and are generally not wealthy as a result of earnings from the federal government, nor do they have huge Thrift Savings Plan balances, but they stil desire and deserve to live in comfort and security in their retirement years.
To live in comfort and security, I believe is a goal that tops the bucket list for all of us. As I have committed a great deal of my life to being an information sharer, at this writing I am even more convinced that greater partnerships need to be formed between many entities to ensure appropriate dissemination of information to our federal employees, the largest workforce in the world. Federal workers have made tremendous sacrifices to public service and they are owed a debt of gratitude.
Subject matter experts, like me, gather information from the official government source tasked with the administration of federal retirement programs such as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the agencies that employ these workers. As a past federal and private sector human capital director invested in training staff to know well what our customers needed to know to be successful both on the job and in retirement, I am a huge advocate of training and education.
Training, albeit ever so important, is the first casualty on the chopping block when it comes to budget cuts. Many of us living today and anticipating retirement now or sometime in the future were not old enough to ever feel the pangs of the Great Depression. I don’t believe our economic tsunami quite reached the heights of the Great Depression, but we were not far from that bend in the road.
We have still not completely recovered from our economic sinkhole. I do, however, feel we have learned some great lessons from the economic scare of the past few years. One is that individual approaches to finding solutions do not work as well as collective strategies in most cases. Second, it is a monumental flaw to believe that simply because we post massive amounts of information on sites, that everybody understands it. Understanding the information has little to do with intellectual prowess, but more to do with the setting and presentation.
Online tools allow on-line chats and applications to explore questions and answers. However advanced our technology, nothing takes the place of looking into the face of an audience and having that audience look back at you and say with their eyes, their facial expressions, and their quiet – this stuff is complicated, it’s confusing and I am scared to death that I have not made the right decisions and my life is going to end up in a mess. That is why, at least in part, why you really need to consider using a local financial professional to help you with these decisions. I really can’t emphasize this enough.
Recently, an on-line discussion from some of the many I choose to get involved in asked – What is a good trainer? I responded – someone who knows the subject matter intricately and intimately and who can engage the audience. I left out something critically important. A good trainer is someone with a heart who can look out into an audience and feel them before they even speak. And you know what, an audience can also feel you, and what keeps them engaged is that they know intrinsically that you care about them.
P.S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.