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Are You Ready to Retire?
Imagine finding yourself in the same predicament as many managers in virtually every industry: Facing imminent retirement without a solid plan in place. What would it be like to have been around the industry for 30 years or more and not have a clue as to what is ahead for you personally? You're not really sure of the details of the company retirement plan or if social Security will be around. You've worked hard but the kids’ educations and some health concerns seemed to always get priority.

You suspect the savings balance will fund a peaceful retirement only if you die early! You've seen friends suddenly replaced by younger managers, or worse yet, their companies were bought out, leaving them with an unfunded “early retirement.”

You certainly aren’t alone if you’re concerned about your ability to retire. A recent survey by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that two-thirds of American workers fear they'll have to work full or part-time after retiring from their main job and 12% believed they would never be able to retire completely.

It's not a pretty picture but managers of grain and feed operations have at least as much responsibility to plan and budget for their own retirement as to develop and implement operating plans for their business employer. Have you done that, or have the day to day requirements of your business crowded it out?

We recently discovered a book that might be helpful in gathering and organizing your thoughts and plans. In Retire Rich and Happy: 12 Secrets to Retirement Success, chartered financial consultant Jeffrey B. Harris lays out financial strategies and other ways to ensure your golden years will be rewarding. Harris also has advice for managers who want to help their employees prepare for life after work.

In Harris’ opinion, employers must establish a solid foundation of education and advice to ensure workers get the most out of financial programs, and establish HR policies designed to prevent early financial problems and stressors. He also suggests free money management seminars, especially if plan providers offer no advice. This is best accomplished by bringing in a professional financial advisor, such as a chartered financial consultant (ChFC) and ensuring the instructor does not solicit business from the employees.

"Quality of life is just as important as money,” Harris says. “Most people should delegate the management of their retirement money and find a good, unbiased investment advocate to help them." He points out that there is a critical difference between a commissioned salesman and a true investment advocate like himself. "Traditional stockbrokers sell financial products regardless of how appropriate they may be for the customer. An advocate like me earns a fee for service and has a legal obligation to work for the client's best interest."

In his book, Harris explains a simple, yet powerful, process for prudent investment management that has helped people accumulate the funds they need to enjoy financial independence. "Most importantly," Harris adds, "This process has worked regardless of stock market ups and downs."

Harris says being rich won't necessarily make you happy. "My book outlines a process that has helped those who use it enjoy a fulfilling, meaningful life focused on family, faith and strong personal relationships."

Retire Rich and Happy is available from Amazon.com or your local bookstore.

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