For many people, planning for retirement can feel like a huge mystery and with all the countless books that discuss technical investing and all the technical terms that come with it, it can feel overwhelming and confusing. And then there’s Chad Slagle and his new book, Winning in Retirement: When Every Day is Saturday.
You see, Chad isn’t like other financial planners–he grew up on a farm, played football in college, and coached high school football for a decade. As you’ll see in today’s podcast, when he talks planning for retirement, he communicates effective strategies and clear relatable language that not only helps you understand investing and finances but makes you feel excited about it.
Plus, his new book is packed with action items, stories from clients, and life lessons that will show you what’s possible for the next phase of your life, and handy the roadmap to get there. In today’s episode, we cover the importance of building a plan early, the three buckets you should keep your money in, and a simple formula that will change how you think about investing. Enjoy.
Miles Rote: Hey everyone, my name is Miles Rote and I’m excited to be here today with Chad Slagle, author of Winning in Retirement: When Every Day is Saturday. Chad, I’m excited you’re here, welcome to the Author Hour podcast.
Chad Slagle: Well, first of all, Miles, thank you very much for having me. I look forward to sharing the book with you and hopefully sharing some insight for your listeners.
Miles Rote: I’m excited too and before we jump into the book, let’s actually start with a quote that you have from your book that really I think provides some insight about how you came about writing this book. Here’s a quote from your book, “Everything I learned about business was learned on a farm or in a locker room.” I think that’s so interesting with a book like this. Can you tell us how that came to be?
Chad Slagle: First of all, you’re a product of your environment–where you grew up, how you grew up, the lessons you learned growing up. And really, everything I learned about life, about hard work, was growing up in a small farming community. My mom has 12 brothers and sisters, I always had a job every summer, whether it was on the hog farm or whether it was cutting weeds out of beans, or whether it was putting up hay bales or straw bales.
That was my childhood–when I wasn’t in school, I was working. First of all, that gave me a very good work ethic. I think no matter what you do, whether it’s a financial planner, whether it’s a plumber, whether it’s an architect, you have to have a good work ethic. But I also think you have to have a plan in whatever you’re doing. The planning part comes in, of course, from playing sports growing up in high school. I played sports and then went to college and played football in college. Then I coached high school football for ten years.
This all helped me realize how important planning is and how important it is to have a game plan if you want to be successful in anything that you do, whether it’s running a business, whether it’s running a team. You have to have a game plan in running your family as well and what that looks like. Really, I’m a product of my environment. Where I grew up, how I grew up, and the lessons I learned growing up in that small farming community and growing up in a locker room.
Helping Those Who Need It
Miles Rote: Yeah, one of the most important parts of your book is really about creating a plan and then the structures to stay on track with that plan. Before we jump into that, let’s just first hear how you went from coaching football to this whole world. I know you started it out of the back of your truck as you were coaching football.
Chad Slagle: Well, the reason I went to college was number one, to play football. Number two was to get a degree. My whole game plan growing up and going to college was that I was going to be a police officer. So, my major was sociology, criminology, and that was my plan. However, when I got out of college, about three weeks out of college, I figured I had to get a job. My summer job, previous to graduating, was putting in concrete foundations, which was very hard work.
On Monday, I was going to accept this job and go back to my old job of putting in foundations and doing concrete work. However, I answered an ad in the paper the Thursday before, it was for sports-minded individuals and it was sales. I actually thought, before I went to the interview, I thought it was selling sporting equipment, and I felt well, I can do that.
Come to find out, it was actually going door to door selling medical supplements and long-term care insurance to people who were retired. I took that job and within a few months, I realized that I was good with people who are retired. When I sat down with an individual, I would sit down and treat them like I was talking to my grandparents. It was very easy for me to do but then I also felt I was making a difference for them, whether it be saving money, or whether it be helping them in case something happen, such as, they had to go to a nursing home or need some kind of home healthcare.
I was solving a problem for them. So, it was a very easy transition for me, but it wasn’t easy, I worked 80 hours a week going door-to-door, meeting with people, and had two-hour drives, one way. It wasn’t easy but it’s how I built my practice. There’s an old saying that I think is in the book and it says, “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy.”
I learned a lot of lessons from the two or three years that I did that before we opened our office. It grew from there. As you mentioned before, Miles, I actually did start this business out of the back of my Chevy pickup truck.
Miles Rote: That’s so amazing. What does it look like now when you are meeting with clients and day to day, what does it look like as far as helping people in this world?
Chad Slagle: Well, a lot of the people now come into our offices, and we have seven different offices throughout Illinois and Missouri. Of course, with the pandemic, we are doing a lot of video chats, a lot of Zoom, and a lot of Webex.
It’s more the people coming to our office and meeting with us. Now it’s not just about Medicare and long-term care. Now, it’s about having a holistic financial plan and making sure all the bases are covered so people can be successful in retirement. Whether it’s with your health insurance, whether it’s with long-term care, but most importantly, it’s their assets and making sure that that money lasts throughout the rest of their lives.
Miles Rote: Amazing. Thank you for the work you do in that sense. I think it’s so important, especially in today’s world. We have already mentioned the importance of a plan, and in your book, you discuss how we’re not actually rational agents and rational actors, and oftentimes, we act on emotion and that’s part of what is so important about having a plan.
Let’s dig into that a little bit more as far as what it looks like sitting down and creating a plan with your clients?
Chad Slagle: Unfortunately, with a lot of the things that are going on, with the market dropping 37% in March and the fear that is out there, everybody is scared. So, unfortunately, they are reacting with emotion. The thing is, you have to make sure you have a guide, you have to make sure you, as an investor, as a retiree, you want to make sure you’re investing with logic, not emotion. The first thing we do when we sit down with a prospective client is to really visit with them, find out where they’re at, what concerns they have, and what questions they have.
Then, of course, we want to find out what their goals are, what kind of lifestyle do you want to have in retirement? When do you plan to retire? What kind of hobbies do you want to have in retirement, what kind of income do you have to have coming in to support that lifestyle? Then really, once we figure out where people are, what their goals are, and what they want, then we build the plan from there. Again, it’s not cookie-cutter.
Everybody is different, everybody has different goals, everybody has different lifestyles that they want to live. It’s really that we fit it around each and every client.
Miles Rote: As far as my understanding, this is a newer need because before, a lot of people had a pension. But that’s not the case in today’s world.
Chad Slagle: You know, I’ve been in the business over 25 years and I’ve really seen the transition from depending on your employer and the government and those forms of Social Security to take care of you to now. You’re pretty much on your own. 20, 30 years ago, 80% of American workers had a pension. You worked really hard, and whether you wanted to or not, they took that money out of your paycheck every pay period, they set that money to the side.
Then when you retired, you really didn’t need to do any financial planning. The only decision you had to make was one, either I’m going to take 100% for myself or if something happens to me, I’m going to make sure my spouse is taken care of as well. That’s really the only financial planning you had to do. Once you set that plan up, it was set in stone, it was irrevocable and it did last throughout the rest of your life. And if you set it up properly, it lasted the rest of your spouse’s life.
However, today, less than 20% of American workers have a pension. That number is dropping all the time. So now, it’s that I hope you saved up enough money, I hope you have enough money in your 401(k), and other company plans or other savings plans. Because when you retire today, Miles, it’s like having 25 to 35 years of unemployment.
Now, you have to figure it out yourself. You’re not a financial advisor, but now, when you retire, you have to figure out how to make this money last throughout the rest of your life and by the way, if you make a mistake, it might not last.
That’s a very scary thing for somebody who is getting ready to retire or somebody who is already retired.
Enjoy the Money
Miles Rote: Well, at 37, it can feel like a scary thing for me. Even hearing you say that. It really makes me think about the fact that not only are we having fewer pensions than maybe ever but also, we’re living longer than we ever have. So, you’re talking about 25, 30 years as you said, of essentially planning for unemployment.
Chad Slagle: I think the other thing that’s so important that I explain to a lot of our clients today is that you’ve worked for 30 to 40 years, you have these goals, you have these dreams, and you want to go out there and enjoy the money. The other problem we see with a lot of retirees today is they are afraid to spend money, they’re afraid if they want to have that condo with the lake, if they want to buy that RV, if they want to have that second home in Arizona, if they want to take their grandkids and have that one big trip every year.
Unfortunately, these are the goals and dreams that they have, but a lot of people are afraid to have these goals and have these dreams and really make them come true because they’re afraid to spend the money. The problem is, the reason they’re afraid to spend the money as you just mentioned, is that they don’t know how long they’re going to live, they don’t know if the market’s going to go up or down, and if their money’s invested in the market, they don’t know if it will last.
By having a plan set up, they can have that second home, they can have that RV, they can take that family to Disney World or to the Grand Canyon. Or take one big trip each and every year, if they have a plan, and if they set up properly. They will know, with that plan, that money–even though they spend it on that trip or that second home–if it’s set up properly, they will have enough income to last throughout the rest of their life. I would say, that’s one of the most gratifying things with us in our firm is being able to see our clients enjoy retirement. Because again, you only get one chance at this and you might as well enjoy it while you’re here.
Miles Rote: Yeah, do you find yourself having to coach people into that and realizing that, “Hey, this is the time where you can really enjoy these things.” Your subtitle is, “When Every Day is Saturday,” and hearing you say all this makes me feel like part of the reason you put that in there is to help people realize that they should think of retirement as something that they can enjoy it every day.
Do you find that it’s hard for clients to get them to a place where they feel like they can enjoy their everyday life?
Chad Slagle: It is hard helping them realize that you can have these things. A lot of people are scared because they don’t have the plan and they’re afraid to pull the trigger on something like that. But one thing I share with my clients all the time–and even myself at 47 years of age–is you either can work to live or live to work. You can be a workaholic and again, where I grew up in the small farm town, you basically worked each and every day really until you passed away. There really wasn’t retirement back then, in the environment of how I grew up. But you can have those goals and the dreams that I talked about and that is one thing that we talk about.
You have to think about when you retire, what kind of income stream do you have to have coming in? Most people think when I say that, well I need to have enough to pay the everyday bills, to pay our taxes, to pay our mortgage or rent or whatever we have and that is really all. That is not all that you should think about when it comes to retiring. You have to think about what kind of lifestyle you want to have in retirement because, you know Monday through Friday, you get up in the morning. You go to work, you come home, you have dinner, you go to bed, you get back up and you do it all over again.
You do that five days a week but come Saturday, you get up, you have your coffee, maybe you go to Walmart or Home Depot, maybe you go to the movies, maybe you go out to eat, maybe you go shopping. Those are the days when you really have fun and live that lifestyle that you want. So, what you have to think about in retirement and when you retire, is that every day is Saturday.
So, what kind of income stream do you have to have coming in to support that lifestyle that you want to have in retirement? That is how we work backward into the plan that people want to have for retirement. It is really thinking about that lifestyle and what you want to do in retirement. When you were working at your job, you got you out of bed every morning. It gave you a purpose. It gave you something to do. It gave you somewhere to go.
When you retire though, you have to have hobbies. You have to have something that is going to get you out of bed every morning and get you going. If you don’t, you’re probably going to fall into a deep depression, and you are going to be sad in retirement. Retirement doesn’t have to be like that if you have a game plan to be able to give you the income to support that lifestyle.
Miles Rote: You talked about how since we don’t have pensions, it is a whole different game and we have to have a guide. We have to learn new things, and in your book, you discuss different worlds of money and how there are three worlds of money–the banking world, the insurance world, and the Wall Street world. What do those mean?
Chad Slagle: Well again, in order to be successful in retirement, in my opinion, a lot of times financial planning and retirement planning people think it is a lot more difficult. And it really is. What I mean by that is that if you look at your money as a whole, when you retire, whether it is your IRAs, your 401(k)s, or other brokerage accounts, other savings accounts you may have, you look at it as a whole. When you get closer to retirement or when you do retire, you want to take that money and you want to separate it into three different buckets.
The secure bucket, the growth bucket, and that dream bucket–or that extra bucket. So, you want to make sure you have enough money sitting in that secure bucket where just like it says, it is secure. It is safe. If there is a 20 to 30% correction to the market, you know that you cannot lose that money. So that money is safe. It is liquid if you need to get to it but also if you need an income stream, that money has to be coming from the secure bucket. Because we can’t let a 20 to 30% correction of the market affect our income stream if it is going to last throughout the rest of our lives.
The money sitting in that secure bucket is safe but also the money in that secure bucket is what’s going to give you the income stream that is going to last throughout the rest of your life, no matter whether the market goes up or it goes down.
Once you have that set up, then we can have some money sitting in the growth bucket. And when we talk about the growth bucket, of course, there’s growth. So, in order for it to grow, we are going to have to take some risk. So, it is there for the long-term. It is there to keep up with the rate of inflation and the cost of living. But the good thing about the money and the growth bucket, if the market has a correction, if the market is down like it was in March of this year, it’s not a big deal. Why? Because you don’t have to go in and lock any losses. You don’t have to go in and sell many shares of stock or mutual funds at a loss. Why? Because you have the income coming in that you need sitting in a secure bucket.
So, once you have the secure bucket set up, the growth bucket setup, then you have that extra bucket, which is that dream bucket. Maybe that is money you have to set aside for that one big trip that you take your kids and grandkids on every year. Maybe it is money you have set aside for that second home or that RV. Or maybe that is money you have set aside for the unknown, like long-term care. Or maybe that is money you have set aside to be left to your beneficiaries in the most tax-advantageous manner.
Those are the three buckets that we talk about. Then you break it down further from there into what you just talked about, Miles. In my opinion, in order to be successful in today’s economic environment, you have to have a little bit of money in all three worlds. The banking world, the Wall Street world, and the insurance world.
The problem is today though, a lot of advisers may only work in one world. They may only work in the Wall Street world. So, when you walk into their office and you are getting ready to retire, if all they work with is stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, if all they work with are the vehicles in the Wall Street world, then they are going to put your money at risk and hope they come up with a game plan where the market stays steady. You need to make sure that, hopefully, that money lasts throughout the rest of your life. We talk about that as a ‘maybe’ income plan.
You want to make sure that you have some insurance in there. Maybe you have some annuities in your portfolio that will give you that guaranteed income stream you can’t ever outlive. And if you need money to be safe and liquid, where you can get to it right now, it has to be sitting in a short-term CD or a money market account. So again, that is why we talk about the fact that you have to make sure you have a little bit of money in all three worlds, the banking world, the insurance world, and the Wall Street world.
You have to make sure you’re working with an adviser that works in all three worlds. So, that they have all the tools to do what is in your best interest, not what’s in the company’s best interest.
Miles Rote: How common is that? Are there guides like that that are really focused on all three worlds like that?
Chad Slagle: Well, I would say it is more common today than it was 10 or 15 years ago. For example, when we talk about annuities. There are good and there are bad annuities. There are annuities that go up and down with the market. There are annuities that charge high fees. But there are also annuities that are safe and that you can set up with an income, with a lifetime income benefit. It is going to give you an income stream that you can never, ever outlive.
Annuities are becoming more and more of a common thing today, where 10, 15 years ago, they were not. Because 10, 15, 20 years ago people had a pension but now when you retire you don’t have a pension. You have to go out and build your own family pension, your own private pension. The only way to do that is to give yourself an income stream you can never outlive by having some of your money sitting in a fixed annuity to give you that income.
Miles Rote: This is great. Okay, so we have talked about a plan and we’ve talked about ingredients within that plan like having the different buckets and using the different money worlds. So how do we stick to our plan? What happens when stuff hits the fan and how do we stick to that plan, what does that look like?
Chad Slagle: Well, the thing that we tell people all the time is you want to make sure that when the market has a 30, 40% drop, it doesn’t affect you. Emotionally it does affect us. We are scared we lost 30 to 40% of our portfolio, but the way that you do that is you want to be proactive with the game plan that you build, not reactive. Because when you retire, you’re going to be 25, 35 years in retirement and the market is going to go up and the market is going to go down.
We are going to have crashes where the market goes down 37%. The way you set your portfolio up so that it does not affect you is by using what we call the 100 age rule–you take 100 minus your age. So, if you’re 60 years of age, you take 100 minus 60 and you come up with 40. So, 40% of your money should be at risk or in that growth bucket that we talked about. But the other 60% should be secure and safe. As you get older, that changes a little bit.
So, if you are 70, it would be 70 in the safe bucket, 30% in the risk bucket. That’s kind of a place to start. That is kind of a 30,000-foot view but once you really get down into the weeds and really look at it is not cookie cutter. You have to think about your risk tolerance, what are your income needs, what are your lifestyle goals, what are your family dynamics, what are your liabilities? A part of that is part of your assets and you have to think about, in retirement, what does that look like to you?
Just because you’re 60 it doesn’t automatically have to be 60% in the safe side and 40% in the risk. There’s a lot of other variables you have to take into consideration. But it is a good place to start.
Miles Rote: The language that you are speaking in is so easy to grasp. I have done a lot of financial podcasts and investing podcasts and that is not often the case. You have a gift of being able to communicate these things to readers and helping them to understand these things, in a very simple graspable way. I really appreciate that and thank you for this book. Writing a book is no joke. So, first of all, congratulations. If readers could take away one or two things from your book, Chad, what would they be?
Chad Slagle: I think the first thing is a game plan. You have to have a game plan no matter what you do. You know Miles, you and I were talking before we came on here, and we both grew up playing football. Even at the earliest times, when I was eight, nine, ten years old out in the backyard, what we would do is you just didn’t line up and throw the ball. What did you do? You got the guys back in the huddle, you got the finger out, and what did you do? You drew a play in the dirt.
“You go here, and you do this,” so even back then, in the simplest terms, you had a plan before you ever threw the ball. In my opinion, it is the same way with retirement planning. You have to have a plan, but unfortunately, we talk to so many people each and every day and they are two months from retiring, or they are six months from retiring, and the whole game plan the whole time, which is good, has been all about growing the money.
Just throwing as much money as we can in–we are going to keep taking risks, and when we retire, then we are going to build a game plan. The problem is if you wait until that time–think about somebody that had a game plan to retire in March of this year. In February, the market was at an all-time high. We talk about the market and that the Dow Jones was at 30,000. They have a million dollars sitting there, and within a month the market dropped 40%.
So, their million dollars, that they thought they could retire on, now is down to $600,000. The reason that happened is that they did not build a plan. I think financial planning and retirement planning doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but you do have to build a plan, whether that is drawing one on the dirt or whether that is building a big one on your computer, and with all kinds of printouts, however you want to do it. You have to have a game plan when it comes to retirement.
Understand that you can’t take this money with you. You need to spend it, you need to enjoy it. You want to leave something for your kids, and you put that in the plan, but you can’t take this money with you and you should enjoy it. So, those would be the two or three things I think people should take away from the book.
Miles Rote: Chad, this has been such a pleasure and I am so excited for everyone to check the book out. Everyone, the book is called, Winning in Retirement: When Every Day is Saturday, and you can find it on Amazon. Chad besides checking out the book, where can people find you?
Chad Slagle: You can find us on our website, which is, Slaglefinancial.com. You can also go to chadSlagleshow.com. We have a TV show that runs throughout Illinois and Missouri every weekend called The Chad Slagle Show, coaching you to and through retirement.
Miles Rote: Thank you. Everyone, make your plan. You have inspired me, Chad to make a plan so thank you, and thanks for all that you do. Until next time.
Chad Slagle: All right Miles, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.