Congrats to Felix Baumgartner for showing it is possible to fall 37 Km and live to talk about it, and while watching it, all I could think of was, “It takes a hell of a long time to get up to 37 Km in a balloon!”. It took almost 2 hours and 20 minutes for Felix to ascend to the correct height and 4 minutes to get down, the good question is, how is this not like all things in personal finance?
Nothing worthwhile happens quickly, however, some things can go way too fast, so you better have a parachute to stop things!
Falling 37 Km and hitting the speed of sound (maybe) is not the problem, the problem is stopping! Luckily Mr. B. managed to stop.
Like saving for anything the ascent of the balloon took 28 times more time than it took to come back down, but that is how your saving for your retirement works, you put in some money for a long time, and then when you finally retire, hopefully you don’t spend your money like you are falling from 37 Km up. Patience is important in that financial area, it is going to take time, just make sure your retirement planning does not entail a 5 minute free fall of spending as well. You can spend up to 45 years saving for your retirement, let’s hope your years living on your savings are a little longer than Mr. Baumgartner’s descent.
Felix’s journey is an interesting microcosm on saving for a nice vacation too, where you spend a long time-saving for it and then free fall money for a week.
The other point brought up by a lot of folks I know is that the amount of preparation and planning that was done for this journey is why the project succeeded. There was a more than 30 point check list just to jump, there were contingency plans in place, and the ascent itself was delayed so many times, because of issues with the weather. As a project manager I can assure you that for most things there is no such thing as too detailed a plan, however the best, plan for the worst, and have contingency plans for all possible issues, because the more issues you think of, the less surprised you can be.
Use this same methodology with your financial planning, and you should be just fine, and if you find yourself falling from 37 Km, make sure you have a parachute (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Wonder how much planning went into sending this train into orbit?