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Who Wants to be a Millionaire!

Nov 2, 2012, 11:49 a.m.

“Sometimes less is more,” he says. “Often you don’t need all that expensive stuff that you thought you needed, and you find life is more enjoyable with less.”

Humility helps.

“I say that, and I’m a guy who has a lot of stuff!” Schaefer adds, with a laugh. “But I don’t need that to be happy.”

Making it

“The most successful of my clients make their financial world a focus in their lives,” says Michael Black, who runs the Phoenix financial planning company Michael Phillips Black Wealth Management and frequently appears as a financial expert on local news channels.

“They adjust their lifestyles when their businesses, careers, or economy is down, naturally governing their spending. When times are good, they sock it away, knowing there will be a time of need. Their savings and investments are sacred and only accessed when they have no other choice. They study the economic and political landscapes to help guide them with their decision making.”

Unfortunately few of today’s wealthy plot their financial goals so judiciously. According to a 2012 retirement confidence survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), even millionaires worry about whether they will be able to retire as planned. The survey of households with a net worth between $1 million and $4.9 million reported that 48 percent of respondents worried they would not have enough money to last them through their retirement years.

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Bill Bonnstetter, founder of Target Training International, says people approaching traditional retirement age must at least keep their money working if they themselves plan to stop working.

“I’m still working,” says the 69-year-old Schaefer, “and I have no plans to retire soon.”

Ditto for Bill J. Bonnstetter, 74, founder of Target Training International (TTI), a leading assessment firm in Scottsdale, who says people approaching traditional retirement age must at least keep their money working if they plan to stop working themselves.

“People in their 50s and 60s—and even beyond—still need growth, but without aggressive investing,” Bonnstetter says. “For example, companies like Berkshire/Hathaway that don’t pay dividends [are good].” Locally, Bonnstetter recommends investing in Arizona real estate and PetSmart.

Of course, seniors with an already sizeable net worth have an edge over younger, less moneyed investors.

“These people have cash and can get better deals because they don’t have to wait for financing,” says Bonnstetter. “They can take advantage of opportunities that come their way because they are not living payday to payday. They can wait for opportunities, they don’t have to force them.”

Older moneybags also benefit from having an established relationship with their financial advisor. In the EBRI survey, less than half of affluent households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million said their financial advisor has given them advice on planning for retirement.

“Other clients simply take my advice; after all, I’m the expert,” says Black. “Not so with my best clients, it’s a partnership. When a client is invested in the decision-making process, we make better decisions, collectively. I always feel responsible for the guidance I provide, but in a partnership relationship both parties feel and are responsible for the final outcome. The successful understand this and this type of relationship is earned, not given.”

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