Retirement Planning: A Food Lovers’ Approach To Planning For The Future

Posted by s8KR2i on February 1, 2019

By Jeffrey Stoffer CFA, CFP

I am still coming to grips with it. Like many of you, I am rapidly approaching retirement. We read the statistics about how few of us are prepared. Mere mention of the words, “investments” or “retirement planning” can seem like carrying around a ball and chain. Well I want to make this journey one that is more appetizing. After all, I love those late-night conversations with my spouse about where we might be in twenty years. Should we live near the beach or in the mountains? Does planning for the years ahead have to be so complicated that we feel like avoiding it altogether? Here is a food lovers’ approach to planning for the future.

How many of you like to entertain, have guests to your house? I really enjoy having people over. My favorite part of planning an intimate evening is the food. I want to cook something special that satisfies the soul. I think many of us share this feeling of wanting to put forth the extra effort to ensure a nice setting, with good food and fun conversation. I want my guests to wake up the next morning and say, “Wow, we really had a great time last night.”

Think about all the effort that we put into planning a dinner party. We give extra consideration to the menu and our choice of ingredients. We may have a special bottle of wine. We’ll clean up the house a little more, buy flowers, and put out the nice tablecloth and napkins. Why do we do this? Because we value our friends. We want them to feel welcome in our homes. We want to give something of ourselves to them. It is a direct expression of our values.

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Our values are the starting point in thinking about retirement and investing for the future. People often think the most important thing is, “I gotta have a big pile of money to retire.” That may or may not be true and you won’t know unless you do some planning. When you are thinking about the future, think about what your daily life will look like, and about what is important to you. And here is the key, treat the future with the same care and sense of joyful anticipation you would in planning a party for your friends. How do you like to spend your days? Write these things down and start your menu for the future.

A well thought out menu is an essential ingredient for planning. As a fun little diversion here are some items from a Chez Panisse menu on a Friday night. The first course, heirloom tomatoes, you’ve seen them at market, with their gorgeous array of colors. The second course is Alaskan salmon with nasturtiums and mint. For the main course they are serving marinated and grilled squab with squab liver toast. (Squab liver is so good it makes me want to howl at the moon!) Then, for dessert, is a summer berry tartlet. The menu, as you’re beginning to sense, builds anticipation as we envision what it will be like when we get there.

Another thing to note when looking at the menu is the nice variety of ingredients going into this meal. In investment terms we would say this is a diverse, or well-diversified menu. One of the most important things to consider for your retirement investments is that they be diverse. Think about this when you read your monthly financial statements. They should look like a Chez Panisse menu, well diversified, with numerous investments and many different flavors.

When you arrive at Chez Panisse and walk into the dining room, there are usually some platters piled high with great produce. It has the feeling of seasonal bounty, like a cornucopia, a sense of plenty. Having a diversified portfolio of investments can help create this sense of anticipation and bounty that you will reap in your future.

That is how I’d like to approach planning for the future, with a sense of anticipation and bounty. Like the anticipation we feel prior to the arrival of our friends, or anticipating a meal at a great restaurant. This is our future we are talking about. Wouldn’t it be great to take the extra time and care such that when we arrive in our future, we have that same sense of delight and appreciation that our guests feel when they arrive at our homes? We can’t know the future, just as we can’t know if all our guests will get along on a particular evening. But regardless of the amount of money we have, or how nice the china is, we put our best foot forward for our guests. Let’s do the same for ourselves. The anticipation of the arrival is half the joy and the appreciation that ensues when you get there will make all your efforts worthwhile.

About the Author: Jeffrey Stoffer CFA, CFP, Principal of Stoffer Wealth Advisors. We are an investment management and financial planning firm serving individuals, families, and business owners in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit our website at


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