There are so many types of risk in life. There are economic risks, risk of war, and risk of injury or death. There is investment risk, health risk, opportunity risk. And while we can plan and strategize for each of these risks at an individual level or a government and societal level, nothing we do can completely remove the risk.
The sooner you come to grips with this reality the better the investor you will be. We're all familiar with the idea that stocks and bonds can lose value. What many people fail to realize though is that there are no risk free investments. Period.
Even savings accounts and CDs lose their value when the bank fails. Even if your account balances are under the FDIC limit you are still at risk if the FDIC and the government backing it fails.
Also, inflation can go so high and eat away at the value of your money so much that it might cause $1,000,000 just to by a loaf of bread. In fact this has happened in Zimbabwe.
Your income needs can unexpectedly rise. None of us, nor the most complex of models can predict with 100% accuracy how much money we're going to need in the future. There are far too many variables.
The two main tings I'll focus on in this article are increases in your cost of living and increases in your realm of responsibility.
Cost of Living
What if the price of bread does significantly go up? How high will it go? If that happens what will the price of eggs or meat go up as well. How much will it cost housing? What about gasoline, electricity or clothing?
We could go on and on, but basically everything that you pay money for could cost a lot more at some point in time. What good is your guaranteed investment when the money you have invested in it will no longer purchase the goods you need to live on?
Even if prices remain relatively stable you could end up having more expenses. How?
Realm of Responsibility
It's very possible that your expenses could rise because you unexpectedly have more people to take care of and support.
Your spouse could become disabled or even pass away leaving your family with severe financial problems on top of the new emotional problems. Children with special needs could be born or special needs could develop in your children.
You could find yourself caring for family members you did not intend to care for. In some circumstances you might take on the care of a non family member because you feel that it is the right thing to do. It likely is the right thing to do, but it's still an unplanned financial issue.
I know that many of these scenarios are highly unlikely, but they are still possibilities and they underscore the point that no matter how careful you are your retirement money is not 100% safe.
Ultimately, you must take the responsibility. Take the responsibility to plan and minimize risk. Stay out of major debt. Have a savings plan. Perhaps purchase some life or health insurance. Work hard and don’t worry. Avoid worshipping your plan or your savings/investment accounts because like it or not they are not assured.