3 Common Retirement Derailers and How to Address Them

Last Updated: September 25, 2013

So you’re on track with saving for retirement:  you’ve made a plan and you’re carrying it out; you’re saving consistently and aggressively, using a disciplined approach in your investing and staying focused despite life’s distractions.  And then it happens.  The whole plan gets derailed because of an unforeseen and unexpected event. Any plan is incomplete if it doesn’t prepare for the unexpected.  Here are three categories of retirement “derailers” and suggestions as to how to protect yourself from their effects: 1. Physical Derailers: What happens to your savings plan if you get disabled and can no longer earn a living? What if your spouse passes away and you lose their income? What if you need costly medical attention?
Although physical derailers can be traumatic, they are the most straightforward to address. Work with a CFP® professional to determine how much income you’ll need to replace if the unexpected happens. Then you can either self-insure against the risk of loss or you can transfer that risk to an insurance company. To self-insure, you’d need to set aside a lump sum large enough to generate the possible missing income. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic for most of us. So while Pension Consultants doesn’t sell insurance products, we stress to our clients that if you don’t have the resources or the desire to self-insure, you need to make sure you have adequate life, health and disability income insurance plans in place. That way if the worst happens, you’ll have enough income to pay your bills without having to dip into the funds set aside for your retirement needs. 2. Relational Derailers:  Relational derailers are often the most difficult to address because emotions and feelings and those we love are involved.  It’s only human to want to help our families when times get tough, and when adequate resources are available, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.  Just remember that your children are not helped by you impoverishing yourself or your future.  Giving them money to help with an emergency is fine, but if you’re not careful, you may not have enough left to take care of your own future needs. Once again, it’s important to sit down with a CFP® professional to determine what you can and cannot do to help.  And if you’re concerned about possible long-term care expenses for your parents, ask your adviser whether or not purchasing long-term care insurance on their behalf could help provide for their needs and protect your inheritance from going to the nursing home. 3. Financial Derailers:  Respondents to a recent survey listed three financial derailers (low interest rates, market losses and home equity declines) as the top three reasons their retirement savings plans were off track.1  By sticking with a disciplined investing plan and riding out temporary losses, people in the past have made it through difficult times like these.  It’s those who have panicked and pulled money out when the market was down who have suffered the greatest losses.  Remember that your feelings are the enemy when it comes to investing, so get help from an experienced financial adviser, grit your teeth and ride it through.  You’ll be glad you did. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you consider all the derailers that could set back your preparations for retirement.  If you think you’re ready to retire, but are scared and wonder if you should just keep working, consider the following three R’s.  They may help you let go of your fears and give you the confidence you need to make the big move to retirement: Reflect on your vision.  Revisit your original plan with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional.  Update the numbers to verify how much you need to maintain your desired lifestyle.  If the numbers look good, then go for it! Revise as needed.  Your plan is dynamic and changes as often as your life does.  As you move into and through retirement, update your plan for asset distribution as opposed to asset accumulation, and stay flexible.  A good financial adviser will help guide you as your life and your plan continue to change. Retire with confidence. When you’re ready to retire, don’t be afraid to take that big step.  Get help to make sure everything’s in order, and then get out there.  It’s time to live the adventure of your retirement years! If you would like to discuss derailers or any other aspect of your retirement situation in more detail, give us a call at 800-234-9584 and ask to speak with one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals.  Your choice is your future! 1Source: Retirement DerailersSM survey released by Ameriprise Financial in May 2013 PCI’s archived blog entries are dated, the rules and statutes referenced may have changed. The analysis or guidance within these blog entries may have become stale, dated, or no longer accurate. PCI will not update or change these entries to reflect the latest analysis or development.


Pension Consultants, Inc.



Read The First Chapter

Learn what it takes to build a successful retirement plan so your employees can retire on time and with dignity. A must read for any fiduciary.

We promise to never spam you or sell your information. For more, read our privacy policy or terms and conditions



A good plan measures
three key elements:
investments, and fees.


A good plan serves
employees and


Fiduciaries have a
responsibility to make
reasonable decisions
with their employees’
best interests in mind.

Ready to Evaluate Your Plan’s Performance?

How we can help


Speak with an adviser who can evaluate your plan in the three critical areas.


Understand how your current plan is performing.


Learn what you can do to improve your plan’s performance.