I have a new dog, Coby -- a high-energy Jack Russell terrier-Pomeranian mix from the animal shelter. Coby made a noisy debut at the dog park, and one of the other dog owners recommended I give him Prozac, the highly popular anti-anxiety drug. Apparently, there's a canine version because anxiety is a widespread problem in today's life.
I apologized for Coby's bad manners and tried to explain that he was a terrier and genetically driven to be frantic. The Prozac woman didn't seem convinced, so Coby and I went home. Later, I decided there was a definite correlation between Coby's problems and those of millions of us on the verge of retirement. All of us -- canine and human -- are driven by the fear that there won't be enough kibble in our bowls. It's an understandable concern, but it's fixable, and drugs -- prescription or otherwise -- won't help.
So I came up with these five ways to cut down on retirement planning anxiety that work for dogs and people.
- Don't gobble up everything you've got all at once. The rule that says you can spend 4 percent per year without worrying that you'll use up all your retirement savings only works if you have enough money to start with and the return on those investments is high enough. In these troubled times, planning to live on the edge, spending whether you've got it or not, will definitely give you agita.
- If you're on a short leash, try not to wrap it around a tree. Continuing to work -- at least part time -- as long as you can will give you a little money to buy the extras and make life a lot more pleasant.
- Don't stick your nose into skunk holes. Invest your retirement money carefully -- or hire somebody who is knowledgeable and who you trust to invest it for you.
- Don't spill your water dish or take your Social Security too soon. Both of these are necessities of life. Conserve them. The longer you wait to take Social Security, the more you get. The same holds true for chewing on your water dish early in the day.
- Quit barking and do something. According to a March study by the American Institute of CPA's, 56 percent of Americans say they are worried about retirement -- but they aren't able to save. That's a sad statistic because failure to save now will undoubtedly result in more pain later.
The reward for good behavior? A big bowl of kibble and a couple of extra snacks every day, long walks with a loving mistress and a warm comfortable bed. Who could ask for more?