3 Ways Retirement Planning is Like BBQ Ribs

By Paul Manger

June 4, 2020

Retirement Planning & BBQ Ribs

You may be asking yourself right now, “What in the world could ribs have to do with retirement planning?” And I don’t blame you for wondering. It’s weird enough to see both things in the same sentence, let alone in the title of an article. Well, here’s the thing; I recently purchased myself a new charcoal grill and have been working on perfecting my ribs. I’m learning a lot about patience, balance, timing, and, most of all, the juicy, delicious reward of a carefully prepared rack of ribs. This got me thinking about the parallels of preparing the perfect BBQ ribs and planning for a successful retirement.

With that, let’s discuss things retirement planning and BBQ ribs have in common.

1. Preparation: Key in Ribs, Key in Retirement Planning

Let’s be real if you wanted to go to the grocery store, pick-up a slab of ribs, and throw them in a hot oven for a few hours and pull them out, you’d still have ribs to eat. But would they be good ribs? Would they be the ribs you really wanted?

Similarly, you can just save all of your retirement funds in one place, never give your plans to retire another thought, and when the time comes, you can try to retire. I say try, because unlike the ribs, which you’ll have regardless of the preparation, without planning for retirement you may never actually get there. Most good things take a bit of effort. So, if you want to eat flavorful and delicious ribs or achieve a successful retirement, planning and preparation are critical.

Collect the Right Tools & Start the Process

The first thing I do when I decide to make a slab of ribs is to collect the proper tools for the job. I’ve got the grill already, but I also need charcoal, wood chips, foil, a rub, an aluminum pan for water, and, most of all, the ribs themselves. Also, maybe, beer, or more like a few beers as this process takes a while.

Personally, I enjoy getting my ribs from a local butcher. My normal go-to is the Local Pig in the Kansas City River Market is a great local butcher with quality racks of ribs, dry-aged steaks, sausages, and more. Once I’ve got my ribs and the rest of my tools, I head to the grill

After igniting the charcoal on one side of the grill, I place the pan of water on the other to help smoke the ribs. Then I prepare the meat by removing the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs with the back of a butter knife.

Next, I mix my dry rub ingredients, often a mixture of salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne, and some other spices. Once the flavor is where I like it, I liberally spread the dry rub on the rack, getting into all nooks and crannies.

Retirement Planning and BBQ Ribs - Dry Rub on Rack

We’ll return to the ribs in a moment, but let’s draw some comparisons here. As an individual planning for retirement, you should be aware of the tools at your disposal and the purpose of those tools. You’ll notice that I didn’t say you’ll need to know how to use all of those tools. However, you must be aware of them, so you know who to get help from. Financial advisors, CPAs, estate planning attorneys, insurance professionals, and other professionals are in their industries to provide services to individuals.

Retirement Planning Techniques & Dry Rubs

Hiring trustworthy professionals is the best way to ensure you have the right mixture of investments, tax diversification, estate protections, retirement income, risk management, and more for your plans to retire. While making a rib rub from pantry staples can be easy for professional chefs and home grill masters alike, we can’t say the same for developing a well-designed retirement plan. It’s a beautiful metaphor, though! Say you don’t add enough salt to your rub? It can profoundly impact the flavor profile on the ribs. You could say the same if you don’t have the right mixture of financial planning techniques. What if you don’t do any tax planning for future years? You may end up paying more taxes than legally required. Who wants that?

The point is, having the proper balance of financial planning techniques in your retirement plan is crucial to its success or failure. As with any recipe, taste is subjective. So, knowing what you want to do in retirement will help your advisors curate the plan around your goals. If you don’t want salty ribs, simply use less salt. If you want to travel a lot in retirement, discuss that with your advisors. Then they can build your retirement plan accordingly. Adjust the recipe to your liking, but get there with the knowledge and help of trusted professionals. Now, back to the ribs.

2. Take Your Time: Make Slow, Steady, Deliberate Choices

Once the ribs are nice and evenly covered with the rub, I check the charcoal and the grill temperature. I’m looking for a long slow smoke on these ribs, so 250-275° F works well. If I’m nearing that, I’ll start smoking some wood chips, which I’m still experimenting with flavors on, but I prefer and applewood at the moment. Again, taste is subjective, and I chose to use applewood, maybe you like cherry. Maybe when I retire, I’d like to develop a scholarship at my alma mater. Perhaps you’ll want to give a regular donation to your favorite charity. Basically, you have choices in both retirement planning and making ribs.

When the smoke and temperature are just right, I put the slab of ribs on the grill on the side opposite the coals (above my pan of water) and close the lid. Over the next two and a half to three hours, I’ll rotate the ribs 180° and then flip them over approximately every 30 minutes, evenly smoking the ribs. If the temp drops, I’ll add coals. If the smoke dissipates, I’ll add more wood chips.

I’m regularly making deliberate adjustments because I’m following my plan. However, these adjustments may affect my plan overall, as well. That’s okay though, as long as you keep your goal in sight. The goal here is to have ribs we can be proud of, if I have to change my plans slightly to make that happen, I will. Say I let the grill get too hot by adding too many coals, no big deal, I’ll pull some coals out. It wasn’t a part of the plan, but I adjusted to succeed.

Time, Patience, and Tender Meat

The process of ribs takes time and patience. You have to make sure you watch the temperature, and as mentioned, make necessary adjustments. Patience is critical here, resisting the urge to pull the ribs off the grill because they already look and smell so good. However, delayed gratification can bring wonderful results. Taking the time to wait for the ribs to slowly smoke gives you that mouth-wateringly tender meat. Cook too high too fast, and you can end up with tough, chewy ribs.

A patient, thorough approach to your goals for retirement, can help you get to your ideal retirement. Professional advisors who truly plan for retirement and aren’t just investment planners know that it takes meaningful conversation about your goals and ambitions to achieve them. They know that to help you navigate to a successful retirement, they need to understand what you want!

I know I want tender ribs because I’ve had them before, but you haven’t retired before, so it could be difficult developing these goals. Take your time and honestly think about it. You’ve had enough patience to save for retirement, now find out why you’ve been saving. Find out what you want in retirement, search for your tender rib, and convey it to your advisors.

Another note on timing: advisers know timing is essential in a lot of financial planning situations. For example, did you know you a recent study found that almost 96% of Americans aren’t claiming Social Security at the optimal time! They’re leaving upwards of $3.4 trillion unclaimed or nearly $111,000 of retirement income lost per household all because people aren’t claiming at the right times. Things like this are the reasons to have trusted advisors who understand the ins and outs of the industry and laws surrounding retirement.

Baste, Insulate, and Rest

At this point, the ribs might look just about perfect, but we’ve got a few extra moves in store for you to take things to the next level. We’ve kept the grill consistently at the right temperature, we’ve flipped and rotated, and we’ve been patient. Next, I pull out some foil and use a basting brush to brush my sauce of choice on the ribs. I like to make my own spicy yet sweet sauce, so things get nice and tacky on the ribs, but it’s up to you on the sauce! Then I wrap the ribs up and foil and put them back on the grill side opposite the coals for another 30 minutes.

After those 30 minutes, you might be tempted to tear open the foil and start cutting and eating, but not just yet! In one more feat of sheer patience and delayed gratification, I pull the ribs off the grill, unwrap them, and set them aside to rest for another 10 minutes.

You Know What You Want, How Do You Make It Reality?

Alright, let’s imagine you’re planning to retire in 10 years. You’ve worked your entire adult life, you and your spouse have saved frugally and have had a trusted investment advisor or maybe a CPA throughout this time. You have a will from a few years ago, and you’re starting to think about the things you need to do to prepare for retiring in the next decade. You want to make sure you’re covering all of your bases, and while you trust your investment advisor, they’ve not planned for your life after retirement.

Hopefully, at this point, you have some ideas of what you’d like to do in retirement. You’ve marinated on thoughts of what you want to do, whether that’s traveling or spending more time with your family. The next step is making sure you have a plan to make that retirement a reality. We’re not talking about a plan for your investments; we’re talking about a plan for your retirement. Your plan needs to consider taxes over time, Social Security, insurance, estate planning, sequence of returns, and the list goes on and on. Does your plan consider these things? If not, have you asked yourself, “Why not?” Have you asked your advisor or CPA?

Make Sure You’ve Covered Everything

You need to make sure you’ve got these bases covered, like a basting brush slathering sauce on those ribs. You want to make sure your plan isn’t missing anything to ensure you’re protected, and your goals remain within reach. What does a plan allow you to do? It allows you to feel confident and protected in your goals and future.

3. Take the Leap and Enjoy the Results

After that excruciating final 10 minutes, I get to cutting the ribs, and finally to the savoring. Hopefully, as you cut your ribs parallel to the bones, you’ll see a nice pink smoke ring on the edge of your ribs. This is a good sign of smoky flavor, a product of your preparation, patience, and labor over that last few hours. Pat yourself on the back and dive into the delicious little devils.

Retirement Planning and BBQ Ribs - Smoke Ring

Just like the ribs, if you plan, prepare, and get the help you require for a successful retirement, you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can feel confident when it’s time to take the leap into retirement. Perfecting BBQ ribs is going to take me a long time, but I’m up for the challenge. It’s not something I’m going to do alone and hasn’t been thus far either. I’ve consulted the internet and I’ve had many conversations with my father and others who like to smoke meats. I definitely don’t intend to stop seeking advice either, especially when it’s good advice.

If you’re looking for someone to help you develop a plan to achieve your goals for retirement, look no further. Modern Wealth Management is here to provide you with a full-service retirement. Our financial planners work side-by-side with CPAs, estate planning attorneys, and insurance professionals to address all of your retirement needs.

Would you like to discuss how we can help you navigate toward a successful retirement? If so, reach out to us at 913-393-1000 or schedule a complimentary consultation below.

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The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.