Friday, September 20, 2013

The Four (or Five) Most Powerful Retirement Investment Weapons in Any Retiree’s Arsenal

If I had a dollar for every word I’d ever read in internet articles on retirement saving and investment that failed to provide some of the best advice on the subject, I probably wouldn't have time to write this, what with all the yacht trips and jet setting I’d be busy with. Not that I’m not as big a proponent of traditional investment strategies as anyone in the financial industry. In that respect, and all others, I’m a proponent of playing to your strengths. 

For instance, one of my pet specialties is Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes or iExpats for British pensioners. Although the details are a little convoluted (and boring) for our purposes here, it’s a tax-saving system and perfect example of taking advantage of a niche financial opportunity. Like lower income savers taking advantage of the “Saver’s Credit” tax reward or looking into any of the preferential financial options available for veterans. 

So what is this sage advice that’s so conspicuously lacking from all those articles? Well, it involves the four (or five) most powerful tools in the retiree’s toolbox (a lot of metaphors happening here): Age, Experience, Time and Wisdom. And hopefully, Passion. Those tools can be employed to build a retirement investment-business that’s not only lucrative but can prove to be a blast as well. Here, at least, is a description of those tools. It’s on your to pick them up. 

Passion. This is the biggie and the crux of the whole system but paradoxically it’s not necessarily entirely essential for success. What I mean is: following a passion into a practical business endeavor is a great foundation for success. If you’ve been fascinated by and involved in, say, antiques, if you decide to start a business dealing said antiquities you’re guaranteed to have more than just a clinical, financial motivation in that business. 

The same goes for any other hobby that can turn into money- collecting coins; classic cars; comic books; firearms and/or other weapons; becoming a fishing or hunting guide; selling produce, preserves, starts or expertise from the time you’ve spent in your award-winning garden; mending or making clothes, or following your eye for fashion and tailoring to the local thrift stores to resell your finds online, whatever. Nothing motivates profit like passion. However, even a keen interest and a level head can succeed where real passion lacks. In the case of a business in which you might be tempted to acquire something or make a decision that’s not entirely economically viable in response to that passion, being dispassionate can even be a benefit. 

Age. Age may seem to be interchangeable with “Experience” and/or “Wisdom” but that’s not strictly the case. One of the benefits of Age beyond the accumulation of Wisdom and Experience, is potential customers assumptions that you’ve accumulated those attributes. Which guide is the average person going to assume knows the local lakes and streams like the back of their hand after years of fishing them- an old-timer or some young whipper-snapper? Who are they going to assign years of worldly knowledge and expertise to? Those presumptions can be used in your favor. 

Experience. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. With Experience (hopefully) comes expertise. Years of indulging your hobby has given you a level of expertise or at knowledge on the subject. Sometimes your pre-retirement job comes in handy as well. Working in contracting, construction, inspection, maybe working for the city or one of the utilities, real estate and a number of other areas may have given you the tools to make good money flipping or renting houses. Maybe you hadn’t previously considered turning your ability to often spot a solid or compromised foundation by eyeballing it into a cash-generation engine. 

Wisdom. Wisdom differs from experience here in a sort of abstract way. It’s like intuitive Experience. Wisdom is what warns you that a deal seems shady; a renter seems untrustworthy; a neighborhood seems set for revitalization; a buy is a steal or a bust; where the trout, bass, buck or birds will be, etc. Hopefully, of course, that wisdom also tells you when your distrust of a renter is based on an old prejudice or snap judgment, when you are just telling yourself that a buy seems like a steal because you want whatever’s being sold and so forth. 

Time. It seems like one of those cruel ironies that after years of working and (hopefully, again) stuffing that 401(k), you’re finally able to quit work, kick back, relax and… become bored. Now that can be put toward your passion, or at least interest, keeping you busy with something fun and getting you paid for it! Nowadays, starting a business often doesn’t even require the investment, time, headache and risk of establishing a brick and mortar space for your endeavor- it can be as easy as setting up a website or logging in to eBay. That saves you more time for your work; if it can be called that. Do you ever regret not following a passion down a career path before you retired? Well, why not give it a shot afterward! 

Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in international politics and finance, retirement and investment. His areas of expertise include European economic policy and expat pension. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football dependence.

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