If there is any subject that should have a click-bait article title to trick readers into it, I can’t think of a better candidate than financing a retirement plan. Most retirement solicitations and articles should come with the same government warning as alcohol and medication — they may cause drowsiness.
Boredom aside, it’s nonetheless an important subject, especially for farriers. Take someone like me who spends most of the time behind a desk rather than under a horse. Although some unforeseen accident could befall me, it isn’t related to my job and needs to be completely devastating to end my career. Think of a piano falling from the sky.
Life is different for a farrier. You work with horses on a daily basis. Some are downright dangerous. Factor in the lack of training, lack of medication and lack of some assistance from an owner or trainer, and that’s a recipe for disaster. But a backfiring engine, barn cat running between its legs or any other accident waiting to happen, can spook even the most docile horse. No matter that the cause, the result of this accident could be the end of your career.
If you survive the accidents, the apparent cause of retirement is old age, which is accelerated by the work you do. An office worker can work well into geriatric years because finger dexterity and mental faculties are the primary keys. The circumstances are different when you get under a horse everyday.
Retirement plans often are something people don’t consider until it is too late. Earlier this year, Money magazine featured a study that one in three Americans of working age have nothing saved for retirement. As they point out, there are obstacles of priorities and debt that have prevented them from saving for the future. When you break it down by generation, it should be no surprise that 42% of millennials have saved $0. More surprisingly is that 28% of baby boomers and seniors have no retirement plan.
How do farriers stack up? A pleasant surprise of the latest American Farriers Journal Farrier Business Practices Survey is that of participating farriers, only 17% need to start saving for retirement. That number climbs to 27% for part-timers. Either way, they are beating the national average. You can see more in-depth data on this survey and the pulse of the U.S. farrier in the November 2016 edition of American Farriers Journal.
I’m drawn to what Blake Brown wrote to me. He was a farrier for more than 40 years in Loomis, Calif. After retiring from active shoeing more than a decade ago, he has consulted with problematic cases that come to a local vet hospital. He wrote to me he would see good farriers who lacked retirement plans diminish in strength and health over the years.
“These were very good farriers, well-respected and then when they should have finished their careers they could not afford to,” explains Brown. “What happened next was they lost their good barns and clientele because they could not perform the quality of work that they had been able to when they were younger.
“I’m not writing this to toot my own horn — I am writing this to hopefully get those just starting out as a farrier and those who have been at it a while and not yet made a plan for your retirement to start organizing their businesses and future. Our work is so physically demanding that if you are fortunate enough to last 40 years, I would hope that you are prepared for your retirement years.”
Maybe he’s not a financial planner, but Brown provides a sobering view of the need for a retirement plan. Maybe reading about financial planning for retirement can put you to sleep. However, the thought of having nothing saved for retirement from the profession you’re in should keep you up at night.