ARBOR WEALTH: Defined benefit plans, investing and The Rockford Files

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

“This is Jim Rockford.  At the tone leave your name and number… I’ll get back to you.” Opening line from “The Rockford Files”

Something special was taken from our generation when James Garner passed recently.  Through hard work and good luck, Garner landed parts in theatre productions and eventually in films. Garner fought the Hollywood moguls for fair pay, marched for civil rights with Brando and Newman in 1963, and also starred in “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files.”

Jim Rockford was a moderately successful private detective who lived in a trailer on a beach in Malibu, ate tacos for breakfast on the pier, and scuffled to make a living without running afoul of the crooks or the law. Garner brought every imaginable co-star onto the show, from Rita Moreno to Isaac Hayes, from Lou Gossett, Jr. to Lindsay Wagner. Rockford’s gold Pontiac Firebird was a symbol of modern mobility, and the tough-talking, wise-cracking detective gave us a glimpse of a fast-paced and rapidly changing world in L.A. 

Jim Rockford did jail time on a false charge, and his life was different because of it. James Garner’s life was even more exceptional. He suffered a difficult childhood with a family that offered little advice and no financial support. When he left home at 14, all he took with him was the dream of success.

Not all of us can live on the beach in Malibu or star in Hollywood movies. But like James Garner, we all have dreams. Many times these dreams are relatively simple financial goals: a comfortable retirement, funding a grandchild’s college tuition, or the ability to travel extensively.

One thing I have learned in 20 years of offering investment advice is that it is never too late to initiate a savings and investment plan. If you’re still working and can utilize your firm’s 401(k) opportunity, cut back on your personal spending and maximize your contributions. If you can forego one or two frivolous expenses each week, you can plow that money into a nest egg that can work for you in retirement.

Following your financial dreams is often simply a matter of executing self discipline and exercising personal will. Many of us fail to save and invest simply because we fail to start the process. The goal of a secure retirement is beyond us, we think, so we commit nothing instead.  Just get started. The more you save and invest, the more you’ll want to.

If you’re a business owner, consider starting a defined benefit plan if it’s appropriate to your enterprise and situation. Some DB plans are designed to allow business owners to put away significant “catch-up” dollars if they haven’t been able to fund a good retirement program to date. 

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, a syndicated economic columnist, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 —, a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin. This column should not be considered personalized investment advice and provides no assurance that any specific strategy or investment will be suitable or profitable for an investor.