We hope you have recovered from the earthquake and Hurricane Irene. What a week huh? Many faired far worse than we did and our thoughts are with them.
Unlike earthquakes, hurricanes (and retirement) don't come on suddenly. We hear about them as they creep slowly towards us over a number of days (or years in the case of retirement). Generally the hurricane will die out sooner than expected; in some cases, the real impact is felt after the fact. In the case of retirement, the impact is inescapable.
In theory, the time "before the storm" should give us an opportunity to prepare. However, in retrospect, it seems that despite the mandatory evacuations and warnings, we now look back and wonder why people didn't do more.
From experience and observation, I see that many retirees look back at their working lives that way. "Hey! I'm at retirement age and I forgot to plan!" They may remember their financial advisors droning on about time value of money, starting sooner, saving more, and so on and wonder why they didn't act sooner.
It is important to remember that there is more to retirement planning than investments. The underlying framework supporting those investments (think plan design) is equally important. Consider that dream home you've always thought of building. Although there are countless exterior and finishing options without an architectural plan and sturdy support beams, that dream might not survive a storm.
Corporate downsizing aside, retirement is not an unplanned event. Most people have plenty of time to do something about it, but only if they choose to do so before their own retirement hurricane makes landfall.