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David Brown

brown on green

The Merle Haggard Syndrome

Brown on Green is a regular column written by Free Will Baptist Foundation Director David Brown. The column offers financial advice, addresses hot-button business topics, and answers your finance questions.

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Some of us may suffer from the “Merle Haggard syndrome” when it comes to making decisions about retirement. One of Haggard’s songs says, “Turn me loose. Set me free somewhere in the middle of Montana. Give me all I got coming to me. Keep your retirement and your so-called social security.”

It is understandable that we want a degree of control in our retirement decisions. Many retirement plans include the “give me all I got coming to me” lump sum or roll over choice. However, it is debatable whether either choice makes long-term sense for most retirees.

In many ways, taking control of your retirement funds means less freedom rather than more. While it is true that you have the freedom to make your own investment decisions, it means you have to do some research and make wise decisions about how to invest your funds.


Brown on Green


Many want to spend their retirement years doing things other than making investment decisions and worrying that the choices will be good ones. Those who manage their own funds must monitor their portfolio constantly to see if they are meeting their objectives.

While some are accustomed to making these decisions, many are not and may be influenced by advisors or brokers who are more interested in a commission than what is the best investment decision for an individual. Poor decisions could jeopardize retirement plans altogether. Chances are that when a couple retires at 65, at least one of them will live 20 to 25 years in retirement. Financial decisions should be made in such a way that the survivor does not run out of funds.

We may think we would like to control our retirement funds, but if we make bad choices, those investments may control the financial quality of our retirement. Anyone who chooses to make these decisions must do so carefully.

Consider choosing a professional, fee based money manager or an annuity so you can enjoy your retirement without having to make additional investment decisions. Several types of annuities meet individual needs. By choosing a plan that fits your needs and guarantees a certain level of income, you can spend your retirement years choosing how you want to continue serving the Lord rather than making investment decisions.

Annuity funds provide guaranteed retirement benefits. You can depend on your monthly annuity check as long as you live, without worrying that you may run out of money. Just be sure the company or organization issuing the annuity is sound financially.

“Give me all I got coming to me,” may be good lyrics for a country song, but for most of us, it is not sound retirement planning. While you may have the expertise to manage your funds today, what about later in life? You are much better off to choose a guaranteed annuity if you have any doubt about your abilities in this area. Choose professional management then sit back and enjoy the music—maybe even Merle Haggard.



©2009 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists