Have you ever watched the movie The Candidate? RobertRedford stars as a candidate with no chance to win. As a result, heruns an anti-establishment campaign… and wins! (Sound vaguelyfamiliar?)

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Related: A fiduciary can help retirement savers winby not losing

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Well, the best part of the movie was the closing line. Redford’scharacter, who spent the entire movie with the single focus ofwinning, pulls aside his consultant (played by Peter Boyle) andplaintively asks, “What do we do now?”

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After interviewing Wade Pfau (see “Exclusive Interview with Wade Pfau: DistributionStrategy Just as Important as Savings,”FiduciaryNews.com, January 18, 2016), I can see Redford’sline might play as well in the retirement industry as it does in politics.Pfau outlined several spending strategies which retirees mightchoose to implement. He also cited the risks of several of them,including the subject of his latest book: reverse mortgages.

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It was his line about the biggest challenge facing retirementplan fiduciaries that got me thinking of The Candidate. Wespend a lot of time and energy trying to get people to focus onsavings, and for good reasons. Article afterarticle has been written describing how little is saved in theaverage retirement account (not to mention how many people don’thave anything at all saved for retirement).

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I’ve written about how some of these statistics skew reality. Infact, it should be immediately obvious that “no income” peopledon’t need to save for retirement because they have no need toreplace income because they have no income to be replaced.

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But I’m not talking about this extreme side of the spectrum. I’mreferring to the vast middle. Well, maybe the vast slightly upperpart of the middle. These are the people well aware of retirementsavings strategies and very focused on implementing them. Theconcern may be that they’re too focused on the savings part of theequation.

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This overemphasis on one factor in the financial picture tiltsall things in a way that can warp reality.

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Perhaps a better example might be the often exaggerated focus ontax avoidance. It’s not unusual for a CPA to insist that a client,say, place money in a traditional IRA in order to reduce thecurrent year’s tax liability.

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If we do the tax math, however, in many cases it’s better forsomeone to forgo saving taxes this year in order to save more taxesin later years. In our example, that would mean placing money in aROTH IRA, not a traditional IRA.

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Is it possible some people may be pushing the envelope when itcomes to saving for retirement?

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It’s not a matter of saving too much. I’m not sure it’s possibleto save too much (within reason, I realize you can create asituation where you starve yourself today in hope of feastingtomorrow, but leave this severe condition aside for themoment).

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If all we’re concerned about is saving for retirement, is it notpossible to save in a way that constrains spending during ourretirement years?

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That’s why Pfau reviews the multiple spending strategies andsuggests the retirement savings plan must in some way integrate theeventual spending plan.

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Otherwise, when the time comes for retirement savers to collecttheir gold watches, they might look up at you and ask “What do wedo now?”

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Related: Time to rethink the retirementparadigm

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).