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Last week I attended “Building the Bridge to Ohio Investor Education,” a community event hosted by the PBS affiliate in Dayton, OH.  The program included an opportunity to screen the documentary, When I’m 65 and discuss issues around financial planning, financial education and just how far behind so many Americans are in planning for their futures.

The program was put on by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), the Investor Protection Trust, the Investor Protection Institute and the Ohio Department of Commerce, among others.  The documentary is being rolled out all over the country using public television as the primary, trusted resource.  The goal is to get people of all ages to think about retirement, their futures and how to plan.

The video is full of heavy hitting celebrities…if you’re a financial nerd like me.  Bob Merton, Dan Ariely, Hal Hershfield, Laura Shin, Knight Kiplinger may not be Jay-Z, George Clooney or even one of the Kardashians, but trust me, they’re a big deal in the world of investing, financial planning and behavioral economics.

In short, this is easily the most comprehensive, powerful, concise presentation I’ve seen on this subject.  It is designed to educate all generations on how to think about their finances.  It covers the potential pitfalls, including the very way we’re wired to think about our futures.  It also does an excellent job of explaining the current state of our Social Security system, the difference between a product seller and a fiduciary advisor and the things we should be paying the most attention to in saving for our futures.

The most consistent message throughout the documentary and the program last week was simple.

Have a plan.

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard that in this space.  We’ve written on this subject time and again and shared articles stating the same.  In fact, a client sent an article just last week from Money magazine emphasizing that perhaps the biggest commonality among those who meet their retirement goals with sufficient resources is having a financial plan that they regularly monitor and update.

That’s where we come in.  We translate all the concepts referenced in When I’m 65, apply them to your specific resources and goals and work together to monitor and update those plans over the years.  This ongoing effort to maximize your success is the work of a financial planner at its most essential.

The organizations involved in the rollout are encouraging people to watch the program on their local PBS affiliate, host viewing parties with friends and neighbors, and basically do whatever they can to spread the word.  I thought I’d do my little part to do that today.

I’d encourage one and all to visit http://www.wi65.org/ and spend 56 minutes watching the documentary.  If you’d prefer to watch on TV, check the schedule of when it might be on a station near you here and set your DVR!  Considering the time we spend researching hotel rooms for a weekend trip or a restaurant for a night out, an hour spent educating ourselves about our futures doesn’t seem too big a sacrifice.

More importantly, don’t stop there.  Share this message with friends, family and neighbors.  The lessons are universal, whether someone is already well versed in his or her own financial plan or has never given it a thought.

There may very well be a retirement crisis in this country.  It may be harder than ever for people to determine how to properly save and manage for their futures.  But, as Nobel laureate Bob Merton states towards the end of the film, “I’m cautiously optimistic.  This is not a science problem.  We know how to solve it.  It’s an engineering problem, and that’s always good.  Knowing you can solve it.”

Scam Alert!

I would also mention that this program in Dayton was chalk full of useful information around common scams and other fraud, especially targeting elders, that the state of Ohio is keeping a close eye on.  It’s likely worth a blog of its own and is something I’ll cover soon.

In the meantime, take a few moments to check out the Ohio Department of Commerce’s site devoted to securities fraud and the Ohio Attorney General’s site about Elder Fraud.