Posted by Gayland Bender on Oct 01, 2018
Past President Julie Wearn, Scott Werdell
David Kray introduced the day’s guest speaker, Scott Wardell, talking about the book he wrote and published, “Retiring in Turbulent Times”.   
Having advised and guided hundreds of past clients into retirement, based on his 35 plus years in the financial services industry, Scott wanted to write a book on the subject.  After researching many books on the subject, he realized many were quite mundane reading. So Scott interviewed 23 past clients and selected 9 of the best stories for his book. He realized he needed help writing a book  to make it interesting, so he enlisted the assistance of longtime Twin Cities journalist,  Brian Lambert, writer for the Pioneer Press, MinnPost and other publications.  After reading Scotts initial script, Brian initiated redoing all of the 9 selected interviews to make the book for “readable”.
The premise of the book is based on the 5S Journey, which identifies 5 different perspectives or situations one may be faced with upon retirement. 
  1. SURVIVING:  The time frame for this condition is a need to generate funds within a day.  In other words,  what would one have to do to get $100 in one day to survive.
  2. STRUGGLING:  The time frame for this condition is about two weeks before one runs out of funds .
  3. STABLE:  The time frame for this situation is having funds  saved to live  1 to 3 years before running out of money.
  4. SECURE:  The time frame for this situation is having funds available for 5 to 10 years.
  5. SHARING:  This situation is having a surplus of funds and not running out of funds to comfortably live.  
What was interesting is Scott’s research indicated the correlation between Happiness and Income continues to increase up to about $75,000 of annual income and then plateaus until income starts to exceed $200,000 of annual income.  After that amount of income, happiness starts to decrease with increased income, except for one group of people, called philanthropists’, or givers, who are living generous lives. 

Scott highlighted two of the nine stories in his book, starting with a friend  (John) who retired in his early 50’s as an Air Traffic Controller (mandatory retirement). His children were not yet in college and he looked forward to relaxing with his dog.  However, his dad was suffering from dementia, so he decided to wire up his dads house with CCTV cameras, speakers and microphones so he could keep track of his dad.  He shared the video/audio feeds with his five siblings, and they took turns keeping track of their dad.  This electronic surveillance allowed his dad to stay in his house for 2 ½ years before the dementia required on-site medical assistance.   His dad lived another 2 ½ years with the home care assistance before passing away.  The cost to rig his dad’s house with the electronic surveillance system was $2,200,  well below the monthly cost for care in a typical nursing home.

Scott’s second story centered around an actuary (Jim) that retired at the age of 48 from a successful career in the insurance industry.  After several days hanging around the house, he realized he was really in the way of his wife and she advised him to stay in his office during the day to avoid tripping over each other.  After searching for about 18 months for something meaningful to do, Jim heard about an opportunity to purchase and operate a local theater  to help it survive financially, something he had always been interested in anyway.  Jim and another acquaintance bought and operated the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. 

During the Questions & Answers follow-up, Scott indicated the occupation of “ Teachers” always comes up as a group that is typically the happiest in retirement, mostly because they have a Defined Benefit Plan for retirement.  There is a close correlation between Attitude and Financial Status, in other words one’s mind set determines how one’s finances are set up in retirement.  There is a major difference between Accumulation and Distribution.  One cannot live on assets in retirement, must have an income stream established before the assets possibly depreciate due to an economic depression.  When asked what his advice to a 25-year-old, Scott emphatically said “Get out of debt”.

 After his presentation, Scott offered everyone Haralson apples from his apple orchard.