October squirrels

We call the large maple outside our house the Squirrel Tree and enjoy sitting on our porch watching them play.

As the leaves turn and begin to drop, our neighborhood scurry picks up its pace, cheeks puffed out with an impressive amount of seeds and busy members filling random holes with winter stores. I have often thought about sending an emissary, perhaps a friendly chipmunk or two, into that tree to advocate for a more organized winter plan that would keep those critters out of my flower boxes and still protect them from winter’s ravages.

Squirrels habitually dig so many holes and store so many seeds that they forget some of them, which is okay for us humans, who get free shrubs and trees out of the deal. Still, it seems like a dangerous waste of effort for those squirrels.

Humans can mimic that behavior when they look up from their busy days and notice winter’s inevitable encroachment. We raise our children, walk our dogs, buy our groceries, clean our houses, build our careers, repair our appliances, launder our clothes, rake our leaves until, one day, we look up and realize our retirement is looming and we may not have enough money to last us the rest of our lives.

So, we scurry. We take a reluctant peek at our 401(k), cobble together a budget, consider a timeline and schedule a frantic meeting with a financial advisor. In the past, with pensions providing a reliable safety net and healthy interest rates offering a secure place to grow your savings account, this dash to the finish line approach worked.

But, pensions have given way to employer sponsored retirement plans, and interest rates remain indefinitely stuck at historic lows. So, the burden for a successful retirement lands squarely on us and our time to start planning is now.

It’s never too early to start retirement planning, but it is sometimes too late.

If you haven’t begun to think about how you will fund your retirement, start now. Take a look at that 401(k) or 403(b), sign in to ssa.gov to see where you stand with your Social Security and make an appointment with a fiduciary financial advisor to set up a comprehensive retirement plan.

Winter looms for all of us and we’re going to want to access plentiful stores when it comes.