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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Retirement Planning Gets Short Shrift

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revie

‘In my line of work, we have a saying that most people spend more time planning for a two-week vacation than they do for retirement,” laments Dan Daniels.

“Then at about age 55 or 60, it suddenly hits people that retirement is coming up pretty soon, and they start to get really worried,” he says.

“But planning and investing for retirement take time, and cannot be rushed,” counsels this expert. “So the sooner you get started the better.”

Daniels knows whereof he speaks. It’s his job. He is assistant director of the City of Spokane’s retirement department, in which capacity he is in charge of pre-retirement training for city employees.

It’s an assignment he approaches with almost religious fervor.

With but one notable exception, the city may be the only major employer in the Spokane area to offer pre-retirement planning or training. The county had tentative plans to launch a program but it didn’t come to pass.

Others, too, have expressed an interest in putting on pre-retirement training clinics for their workers from time to time, say Daniels and Leigh Hales. Hales is volunteer coordinator of retirement training for the American Association of Retired Persons.

But both say the only major firm in the Spokane area they know of who has followed through with the effort is Cowles Publishing Co.

Hales said he understands that a number of Washington coast firms offer their employees pre-retirement courses. Hereabouts, however, recruiting of company facilitators for retirement training has been going “very, very slow,” reports AARP’s area coordinator.

Indeed, in the entire Inland Northwest, the only other company that Hales or Daniels know of is an explosives firm in Lewiston, Idaho.

“We haven’t had other people like Dan Daniels of the city and Paul McNabb (human resources manager) and Judy Kruiswyk (training manager) of The Spokesman-Review step forward and make the commitment,” said Hales.

“ARRP is not very strong on this side of the state,” said the area coordinator. “People don’t get as involved with AARP as they do over on the coast, where there are some pretty high-powered people in the program.”

Observed the city’s Daniels, “It does take major support from upper management to institute a program of pre-retirement education. Often, even if someone in a company is willing to organize and coordinate the training, top management doesn’t go along.

“It requires some money, considerable time and effort, a firm commitment, and hopefully a measure of enthusiasm.”

The city has a self-funded retirement system which is managed by the city’s own retirement department. “Our retirement board is a strong supporter of pre-retirement training,” says Daniels. “The board wants employees to be knowledgable about what it takes to prepare for the future.”

Employees pay a nominal fee for the training course. Except for Daniels, the program is put on entirely by volunteers.

“I go out and find professionals - attorneys, brokers, financial planners, Social Security field representatives, medical plan experts - who believe in what they are doing, and are happy to volunteer their time,” says Daniels.

“There’s no shortage of experts to give talks,” says Daniels, “but they are not allowed to make pitches for products, sell themselves, or hand out brochures. This is not marketing.”

Daniels’ classes are for all ages. “We are getting a lot more people in their 40s and even 30s,” he says. “We don’t cover just ‘old’ subjects - Medicare and so on. We also talk about maintaining good health today, money management now, and so forth.”

In addition, Daniels counsel employees individually on retirement and writes articles for an employee newsletter that seeks to set people planning for the future.

“Young people have a lot of bills and kids and responsibilities and activities,” said Daniels, “but they must make decisions and take actions now in their 30s and 40s that will affect them in their 60s and 70s.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes on retirement issues each Sunday. He can be reached with ideas for future columns at 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes on retirement issues each Sunday. He can be reached with ideas for future columns at 459-5467 or fax 459-5482.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

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